Invigorated Giants surge to scoring record at Petco

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Invigorated Giants surge to scoring record at Petco

SAN DIEGO Now that Melky Cabrera is but shadow and specter,who is under the most pressure to step up in the Giants lineup?

Is it Pablo Sandoval, the jubilant switch-hitting Panda,whose return overlapped just one day with Cabrera before the 50-game suspension camedown?

Is it Hunter Pence, the big piece acquired at the tradedeadline? Is it Brandon Belt, who has shown so much life of late amid so manywasted stretches this season? Or Angel Pagan remaining a spark in the leadoffspot? Or Marco Scutaro continuing to make a surprising contribution?

Or does Buster Posey simply have to keep hitting .430 with aslugging percentage near .800 for the remainder of the second half?

Maybe its all of them. They showed what a collection ofsmart, tenacious at-bats can accomplish Friday night, and the result was a 10-1victory and the most potent inning by an opposing team in nine seasons at PetcoPark.
RECAP: Giants 10, Padres 1

The Giants became the first opponent to score an eight-runinning in the ample ballpark wedged next to the Western Metal Supply Co.building. And they did it without a grand slam or even a solo home run. They racked up those eight runs by working counts, spoiling pitchers strikes andmaking hard contact on mistakes.

Belt fouled off seven pitches while drawing a 12-pitch walk,and even he was surprised to learn it lasted so long.

Sandoval fouled off one pitch with Scutaro on the move, thensmartly took another with a 2-2 count that allowed Scutaro to steal (and takethird on a throwing error). Sandoval wasted no time cashing in the chance,punching a hard RBI single through the right side.

Pence, who was 1-for-26 against the Padres this season,contributed a well-struck double that drove in another run.

And Pagan provided the flash by hitting his third triple ofthe month (while getting within four of matching Willie Mays single-seasonfranchise record of 12.)

And we havent even mentioned Brandon Crawford, who startedthe rally with a double and ended up scoring twice in the inning. (Yes, aGiants player scored twice in the same inning at Petco Park. Im not sure ifthats ever happened, either.)

So who is the key, again?

I think its more of a group thing, Belt said. Everybodyhas to pick up the slack, especially for a guy like Melky. I dont have anydoubt we can do that.

A game like this and in a place that has shown the Giants hittersplenty of frustration over the years can only reinforce that belief.

I think it gives us confidence and momentum going into thenext few games, knowing without one of our best players, we can score runs,Belt said.

It was a sight to behold for Matt Cain, too. The Giantsremain a pitching-oriented team, and theres no way they can win the N.L. Westwithout maintaining the base of the pyramid. So every game that they can playwithout putting their pitchers in a vise grip, the better itll be for everyoneshealth and sanity.
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We have a great team and a great group of guys, Cain said.They all know what they can do. What happened on Wednesday was tough for allof us, a shock for all of us. But youve got to turn the page real fast, andthe guys did a good job with that.

Manager Bruce Bochys chuck wagon helped with that. TheGiants had played 20 consecutive games before Thursdays day off, and severalplayers along with the coaching staff took advantage of the down time to attacka menu that included chicken, tri-tip and ribs along with baked beans and therequisite potato salad.

There was nothing left, Bochy said. They did a good jobon it.

Bochy noted that more than anything, the day off freshenedup a team that needed a physical and mental break. He was glad that Cain lastedeight innings, allowing him to give the bullpen an even longer charging period.(And it should be noted that the Giants dont have any more long stretcheswithout a day off; they have four breaks in the schedule and wont play morethan 10 in a row the rest of the way.)

The Giants even started Sandoval on a 3-2 pitch with oneout, signaling that his strained hamstring continues to get better.

With where he is now, when its time to put him in motion, were going to doit, Bochy said.

The Giants hope theyll put much more in motion over thesenext six weeks. It takes light, after all, to create shadows.

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

SAN FRANCISCO -- At some point over the next four days, Madison Bumgarner will pick up a baseball, stand a few feet across from a member of the training staff, and simply play catch. It'll be a huge step in Bumgarner's rehab, and should it go well, a boost to the psyche of a struggling team.

In the meantime, another lefty is making sure the Giants don't suffer too much without their ace, as improbable as that first seemed.

Ty Blach took a shutout into the eighth Saturday night and in true Bumgarner fashion, he added a pair of hits and an RBI. The Giants beat the Braves 6-3. They've won Blach's past three starts, and even with a 10-run outing in Cincinnati mixed in, he has a 3.71 ERA since taking the spot left open by a dirt bike accident.

"Because of what happened he's in the rotation," manager Bruce Bochy said, "And he's taking full advantage."

Blach has shown that long term, he might be a big part of this rotation. It's been years since the Giants locked a young, cost-controlled starter in, and Blach has backed up his big cameo last year. It's possible -- likely even -- that at some point the Giants will need to trade a veteran, perhaps Johnny Cueto, for young bats. Blach provides needed insurance. 

Short term, he's providing a huge boost to a team that doesn't have much going right. Blach has thrown at least seven innings in his past four starts. He has allowed just eight earned runs in four starts since the one in Cincinnati, throwing 28 2/3 innings. 

"I feel good," Blach said. "I've always been a starter, so it's been a pretty easy transition to make. I feel comfortable."

The Giants are comfortable behind him, as evidenced by a half-dozen strong defensive plays Saturday. 

"He's been consistent and he works quickly," first baseman Brandon Belt said. "He's just a great guy to play behind."

Blach even joined in at the plate. He had an RBI single in his first at-bat -- his first big league hit off Not Clayton Kershaw -- and later roped another single. Blach even showed off his wheels, busting it from first to third on Denard Span's ball to the corner before Phil Nevin held him up. 

"I worked into some good counts and I was able to get fastballs," Blach said of his night at the plate. "It's definitely a big confidence booster when your spot comes up and you're able to drive in runs."

The night was straight out of Bumgarner's playbook, and it was needed. The Giants had dropped five of six, but Blach was backed by homers from Nick Hundley and Brandon Belt. It got a little hairy late, but the bullpen held on, clinching Blach's third win of the season. He looks poised for many more, and Bochy is happy to keep running him out there.

"I'm not surprised by what he's doing," the manager said.

 

Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid

Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — This spot in the rotation is the one reserved for the stopper, the pitcher who takes a game by the throat when his team really needs it. 

Ty Blach took the mound Saturday for a team that had lost five of six, and just as Madison Bumgarner often has, Blach ended the skid. The young lefty was dominant into the eighth and the bats finally provided enough support. The Giants won 6-3, tying this weekend series with the Braves.

Here are five things to know from a night we were reminded that Emilio Bonifacio is in the big leagues … 

--- Blach pitched 7 2/3 innings. He has thrown at least seven innings in his last four starts, and five of seven starts overall. Jeff Samardzija (6) is the only Giants starter who has gone that deep more often. Blach is tied with Johnny Cueto for second-most seven-inning starts on staff, and Cueto has made three additional starts. 

--- Blach’s RBI single in the fourth was -- at the time -- the fourth hit of his career, and the first against a pitcher not named Clayton Kershaw. The ball had an exit velocity of 101 mph. Blach tried to score from first on Denard Span’s double, but Phil Nevin held him. Still, the way he was moving, it makes you wonder if Samardzija really is Bruce Bochy’s best pitcher-pinch-running option. In the seventh, Blach picked up a second single. 

--- Blach’s only bad start has been the one he made in Cincinnati, where the Giants played like a Double-A team. If you take that one out, Blach has a 2.21 ERA since taking over Bumgarner’s rotation spot. 

--- Even though he gave up just two earned in 7 2/3, Blach’s home ERA actually went up. It’s 1.75, which ranks seventh in the National League. The sellout crowd gave Blach a standing ovation when he was pulled in the eighth. 

--- Blach had a season-high five strikeouts. When he got Nick Markakis to end the first, Blach ended a streak of 37 left-handers faced without a strikeout. He later struck out another lefty, Matt Adams. The new Braves first baseman came up as the tying run in the eighth but Derek Law got him to ground out to first. 

--- Bonus sixth “thing to know” ... on Blach of course: His first name is Tyson, not Tyler. It’s Tyson Michael Blach.