SAN FRANCISCO -- Second only to performing, Bay Area athletes place great importance on looking good, no matter the consequences.
Brian Wilson wore his All-Star Game cleats in 2010 and was fined because they weren't fifty-fifty black and orange. He was infamous for taking a sharpie to them to get them in compliance with the uniform regulations.
Michael Crabtree and the entire 49ers receiving corps welcomed fines when they wore all white socks in their memorable 2011 season.
Pablo Sandoval, you're up.
Sandoval took a page from Wilson's book and donned his flashy All-Star Game cleats during the Giants' 5-1 win on Orange Friday. The cleats are roughly fifty-fifty orange and gold -- not even close to the league stipulation that cleats must match the team jerseys -- and are likely going to cost Sandoval.
"It's like 1,000 for the fine," Sandoval estimated. Or maybe he didn't. Sandoval said he's received a similar fine before. Last season he wore his all white All-Star Game cleats and was docked pay.
He's anticipating a repeat offense, but it didn't seem to bother him, saying he felt good in them, it was Orange Friday, and they brought him good luck.
Sandoval finished the game 1-for-4 with a triple and a run scored.
Bochy shied from a concrete answer about how he plans to treat the ninth inning going forward, but when prodded, he acknowledged that we "are seeing a little change."
"With Sergio (Romo) throwing the ball so well, if he has an easy eighth like he did, there's a good chance he will start the ninth."
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It's a bit of a departure from the stereotypical role of the closer, but then again, when have these Giants been stereotypical about anything?
Bigger, badder curveball
If Madison Bumgarner's curveball looked a bit different Friday night, you are very observant.
"I've been talking with (Jeremy) Affeldt," Bumgarner said. "He's got a really good curveball. We've been working on some stuff.
"We made a little adjustment, and it made it a whole lot better."
Bumgarner's tighter slider is still in his repertoire, but the addition of a larger breaking pitch could take the young lefty to the next level -- especially if he keeps it down like he did Friday.
Gregor Blanco didn't play Friday night, but with right-handed pitcher Lucas Harrell going for the Astros Saturday and Justin Christian going 0-for-4 in the leadoff spot Friday, Blanco is likely to start Game 2 against Houston.
The backs of Blanco's cleats are embroidered, the left reading "Greg," the right reading "White."