EXTRAS: Sandoval does not fear contact, etc.

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EXTRAS: Sandoval does not fear contact, etc.

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO Pablo Sandoval took exception to John McDonald's non-slide into third base in the eighth inning of Wednesday's loss to Arizona, offering words and a threatening physical approach after his hard tag sent McDonald sprawling -- and out -- to the ground.The benches quickly cleared, although nothing more than words were exchanged, and if it sounds familiar, it's because this isn't the first time Sandoval has raised the emotional investment in a game started by Madison Bumgarner.Just as he said when he bowled over Houston Astros catcher Chris Snyder to score in a 5-1 Giants win back on July 13, "It's part of the game," Sandoval said Tuesday. But the July collision at home plate is part of the game. A benches-clearing scrum after a forceout at third base is not."Pablo felt like he elbowed him in the chest," Bochy clarified. "Tempers flare." Bochy seemed to hit it on the head with that second comment. Sandoval, who was retired on a 1-6-3 putout off the pitcher's glove in the Giants' seventh-inning rally, saw a chance to make his presence felt by the D'backs in another way, and he took it.Sandoval finished the game 0-for-4 after going 7-for-15 with four RBIs in his previous four games, but his strong emotions didn't carry over into the clubhouse, where he met the media unflustered."Moments like this happen," Sandoval said. "You don't think about it. It's part of the game"Although Sandoval claims he was under control at the time, it took his childhood friend from Venezuela Gerardo Parra, who was the most vocal in his attempt to quell Sandoval's emotions, to ease the big third baseman. The bear-hug from third base umpire Greg Gibson didn't hurt either."I was calm," Sandoval said. "I'm not that kind of guy. I don't like fights."Like them or not, it's clear the 240-pound Sandoval won't shy away from contact, and it's clear his team has his back."I was in the clubhouse," Bumgarner said. "Or I would have been out there. I don't know what his intentions were, but yeah."And by the way he said it, you knew he would have been the first one on the field barking.--Madison Bumgarner allowed four earned runs over six and one-third innings and lowered the ERA of the starting rotation since Aug. 28 from 7.88 to 7.51."As a group," Bochy said. "We're not throwing as well."And while he felt Bumgarner's outing was The Giants have been fortunate that their lapse in pitching has coincided with a torrent of offense. But it will be difficult, as Tuesday's starter Trevor Cahill showed, to maintain an offensive output that is nearly two whole runs higher than their 4.39 average runs per game.The Giants starting pitchers, who owned the fifth-best staff ERA in the majors at 3.60 just a week ago, feed off each other. What the Giants need more than anything is a deep and dominant outing -- a vintage outing -- from Tim Lincecum against the Dodgers on Friday.--While the players downplayed the importance of the upcoming three-game home series with Los Angeles, they know it's pivotal. Twenty six games remain for the Giants, and six of those games are against the Dodgers. If the Giants let the Dodgers hang around, it could all come down to the final series of the year -- a three-game set between the Giants and Dodgers in Chavez Ravine.The Dodgers, who lost 4-3 to the Padres and Carlos Quentin's sacrifice fly, remain four and one-half games behind the Giants in the NL West. RELATED: MLB standings"It's a big series," Bochy acknowledged. "Every game is important. It's going to be intense out there. That's why you play the game. That's what you look forward to."
--The Giants didn't do the things a baseball team needs to do to win Tuesday; they were hurt offensively by double plays, and defensively by two-out hits. Five of the Diamondbacks' six runs were knocked in with two outs."Two out hits killed us," Bochy acknowledged.It started with Miguel Montero's two-out single in the first inning that plated the first run of the game. It continued in the fourth when John McDonald's single scored Chris Johnson for the second run of the game. And it didn't stop in the seventh, when Paul Goldschmidt, Montero and Chris Johnson strung three hits together to score another three, all with two outs.On the other side of the ball, the Giants grounded into double plays to end their only run-scoring rally in the seventh, and a potential rally in the eighth.It was a late-inning trend in the losing series to Arizona. In Tuesday's extra-innings loss, the Giants grounded into another two double plays, including Hector Sanchez's 4-6-3, that abruptly ended the eighth inning while the bases were loaded.--The Giants called on their bullpen 21 times over the three-game series with the Diamondbacks. Their day off Thursday will be well-used."Hopefully we get a little bit deeper in the game with our starters," Bochy said. "Get back to getting these quality starts and make it easier on the bullpen.
"We did use a lot of them. There's some tired guys down there.
"I guess you have to look at the silver lining. Some of them are getting some experience out there, getting in a groove. It's not that you want to see 'em out there as much as we've been using them, but they'll benefit from this down the stretch."
As long as the starting rotation recaptures some semblance of its dominant form and keeps the bullpen from burning out, Bochy's silver lining could be dead on.

Giants spring training Day 42: Blach still in the fifth starter mix

Giants spring training Day 42: Blach still in the fifth starter mix

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Ty Blach is the young one in the race to be the fifth starter, but on Sunday he sounded like a veteran. Asked if he has gotten a hint one way or the other about his opening day role, Blach smiled.

“I’m just taking it day-by-day and trying to get better,” Blach said. “I’m enjoying the process and having fun.”

Smooth. 

Those days are adding up to a nice spring for Blach, the left-hander trying to unseat Matt Cain. While Bruce Bochy didn’t shed any additional light on the current lean, team officials hinted Sunday that this is not as open-and-shut as it seems. Matt Cain, who will start Tuesday, looked like a lock to be the fifth starter a week ago, but the Giants are considering all options because they have an off day during the first week and two more shortly thereafter. 

“We’ve had discussions every day,” Bochy said. “We’ve got some tough calls.”

The Giants are expected to announce their official rotation when they return home for the Bay Bridge Series. Whether he’s starting, long-relieving, or pitching in a completely new role, Blach has certainly done all he can to make sure he’s in the big leagues on April 2. He gave up two runs over six innings Sunday, walking one and striking out one while giving up seven hits. Blach has allowed 10 runs in 20 1/3 innings this spring, but four of those came when he was ambushed coming out of the bullpen one day.

“Wherever I’ll be, I know I’ll be in a good spot,” Blach said. “I’m just looking forward to getting the season rolling.

After pitching out of the bullpen most of the spring, Blach got his pitch count up to 85 on Sunday. 

“We’ve gotten him stretched out,” Bochy said. “That’s a solid, solid job. We’ve got guys stretched out where you want them. We’ve got some flexibility. We’ll see as we get close here which way we’ll go.”

POSITION BATTLES: The Giants will carry a backup for Denard Span, and for about a month it looked like Gorkys Hernandez would be that guy. But Hernandez has slumped so badly this spring that he went over the minor league facility Sunday to get a ton of extra at-bats, and Justin Ruggiano has emerged, reaching base in nine of his last 16 plate appearances. The plan a few days back was for Ruggiano to go to Sacramento and get 50 or so at-bats to see where he’s at, but this is another race that could change in the coming week. 

Cory Gearrin has done his part to hold off any charging relievers, throwing two sharp innings while going back-to-back for the first time this spring. 

FAMILIAR FACES: A rough day for a couple of longtime Giants. Ehire Adrianza and Gregor Blanco both have oblique injuries, hurting their odds of breaking with the Twins and Diamondbacks, respectively. Elsewhere, David Hernandez showed that he made a smart decision asking for his release. He was signed by the Braves. 

AROUND CAMP: Hunter Pence really does do all he can to make every single teammate feel welcome in the clubhouse. He spent some time with young right-hander Roberto Gomez on Sunday morning, learning a few Spanish phrases. When the players went out to warm up, Pence threw with Jae-Gyun Hwang. These are small gestures, but for the new guys, they matter. 

BARRY’S BACK: We all knew Barry Bonds would step into the cage at some point, and on a quiet Sunday morning, there he was. Bonds, 52, took about five or six easy hacks before crushing one out to deep right. He’s still got it. The other day, reporters asked Bonds if he could suit up in the WBC if asked. He said he can absolutely still hit, but he would need to DH and he would need a day or two off before games. Being a big league hitter is not easy, even if he always made it look that way.

 

Bonds dusts off swing, cracks home run during BP in Giants' camp

Bonds dusts off swing, cracks home run during BP in Giants' camp

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants knew Barry Bonds would step back into the box at some point. It happened Sunday, with Bonds taking a few cracks at BP pitches from Gary Davenport.

Bonds warmed up with a couple of lighter swings and then blasted a homer to deep right. That was enough, as the 52-year-old walked away with a big smile on his face. 

Bonds is in camp as a special instructor, and he still picks his spots to show off his legendary swing. When he was the Marlins' hitting coach last season, he beat slugger Giancarlo Stanton in an impromptu home run derby.