Sandoval afforded no time for reflection

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Sandoval afforded no time for reflection

SAN FRANCISCO -- Babe Ruth. Reggie Jackson. Albert Pujols. Pablo Sandoval. It's one of baseball's most elite groups -- the offensive juggernauts who flexed their muscles under the brightest spotlight.

Sandoval's three home runs in Game 1 of the 2012 World Series etched his name in stone, but the big third baseman barely had time to read the 300-some text messages he received, let alone process the magnitude of his accomplishment. After all, he had homework to prepare for Doug Fister and Game 2, less than 24 hours later.

"You have to realize what's going on right now in your life," Sandoval said hours before Game 2. "So you have to keep your head up and keep focused."

The performance that earned him a tweet from Hugo Chvez, the President of his native Venezuela, will go down as one of the single greatest offensive games in World Series history.

The first player ever to hit three home runs in Game 1 of any postseason series. The first player to homer in his first three at-bats of a World Series Game. The second most total bases recorded in a World Series game. The list goes on, but so does the series, and Sandoval and his teammates have to be ready for Game 2.

RELATED: Sandoval writes name among World Series legends

Having a player of Sandoval's caliber dialed in at the plate in late October is an asset that can't be understated.

"Occasionally you get great athletes who get in a zone, and it really slows the game down," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "I'm sure last night Pablo just saw the ball so well and it really slowed down for him. It's a credit to his talent. It's fun to watch great athletes when they get in the zone, especially when they're playing for you."

Tigers manager Jim Leyland didn't have that luxury, but he appreciated what he witnessed nonetheless.

"You can't sit up here and say what he did tonight was a fluke," Leyland said. "I mean, it was unbelievable. The guy had one of those unbelievable World Series nights that they'll be talking about for years.So I tip my hat to him."

Plenty of others tipped their virtual hats to Sandoval. The face of the division-rival Dodgers, Matt Kemp, joined Chavez on Twitter to express his wonder.

Wow! That's all I can say. panda Matt Kemp (@TheRealMattKemp) October 25, 2012
All va el tercero, pues! Pablo pa' la Historia! Viva Venezuela!! Hugo Chvez Fras (@chavezcandanga) October 25, 2012
Sandoval is doing his best to take it all in.

"For me," the five-year veteran said, "it was exciting to see Matt Kemp -- he played with LA -- he sent me a tweet saying that. That means a lot me.

"There's a lot of things you have to realize in your career, you have to pay attention to all that. When your friends do good things, you want to support them."

Sandoval's immediate focus, though, is supporting his teammates in the World Series.

He already has half as many home runs this postseason (six) as he did during the regular season (12). And Sandoval just set the Giants franchise record with a six-game postseason RBI streak -- a record previously held by Barry Bonds. Over those six games, Sandoval is 12-for-25 (.480) with two doubles and five home runs and 10 total RBIs.

The Giants have scored 61 runs in 13 games these playoffs, and they've done in just about every way possible. But the key behind their 4.69 runs-per-playoff-game average (up from their 4.43 regular season average) has been striking first. The Giants are 7-1 when they score first this postseason, and a locked-in Sandoval would aid the early production quite a bit.

With success comes heightened levels of celebrity. But don't expect Sandoval to disguise himself, especially when he returns to Venezuela.

"I'm the kind of guy that spends time with fans out there, spend time with kids," Sandoval said. "That's what makes me happy out there."

What makes him happy right here in San Francisco, though, is playing baseball, and playing baseball well. Whether or not he's processed what he achieved, he'll be back in the batter's box at AT&T Park in Game 2.

Amidst a brighter media spotlight than he's ever been exposed to, Sandoval is doing his best to keep his mind in the right place.

"You have to keep focused and keep playing and keep working hard," Sandoval said.

There will be plenty of time in November for reflection -- and responding to text messages.

Giants lineup: Panik leading off in series opener vs Cubs

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AP

Giants lineup: Panik leading off in series opener vs Cubs

Bruce Bochy and Joe Maddon issued their lineups for today's series opener in Chicago:

Giants (19-26)
1. Joe Panik (L) 2B
2. Christian Arroyo (R) 3B
3. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
6. Eduardo Nunez (R) LF
7. Justin Ruggiano (R) RF
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) CF
9. Ty Blach (R) P (1-2, 4.15 ERA)

Cubs (22-20) 
1. Ben Zobrist (S) LF
2. Albert Almora Jr. (R) CF
3. Kris Bryant (R) 3B
4. Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B
5. Willson Contreras (R) C
6. Addison Russell (R) SS
7. Jason Heyward (L) RF
8. Javier Baez (R) 2B
9. John Lackey (R) P (4-3, 4.37 ERA)

Former Giants top prospect earns first career MLB win with Twins

Former Giants top prospect earns first career MLB win with Twins

BOX SCORE

MINNEAPOLIS -- Adalberto Mejia made the most of his brief stint back in the majors with the Minnesota Twins by getting his first big-league win.

Robbie Grossman, Max Kepler and Chris Gimenez all homered to help Mejia and the Twins beat the Kansas City Royals 8-4 in the second game Sunday to salvage a split of a doubleheader.

Mejia (1-1) was the Twins' 26th active player for the second game and allowed three runs in seven innings, on two home runs by Salvador Perez - who also went deep in the first game.

Mejia's reward for his first win? A trip back to Triple-A Rochester.

"I'm going to go down there and work on the things they told me work on," Mejia said through interpreter Carlos Font. "Then it will be up to them to see when I get back."

Grossman and Kepler each hit two-run homers in the first inning, and Brian Dozier had an RBI double in the second off Ian Kennedy (0-4) in his first game back from the disabled list.

Brandon Moss hit two of Kansas City's four home runs in the opener of the doubleheader, and Perez and Jorge Bonifacio each hit two-run homers to lead the Royals to a 6-4 win earlier in the day.

With the split, the Twins are now 7-1 on the year against the Royals. Kansas City's win in the first game snapped a seven-game losing streak against Minnesota.

Kennedy, who returned after missing time with a hamstring strain, said he felt fine physically. He walked three batters and gave up a pair of two-run homers in just two innings Sunday.

"He was way out of whack," manager Ned Yost said. "His leg was fine. He felt normal, felt good. Just timing was off, rhythm was off."

MINOR'S WIN

Mike Minor's road back to the majors was not an easy one. Shoulder surgery kept him out of the majors for two years and resulted in a move to the bullpen.

Minor got his first victory since 2014 with 1 1/3 scoreless innings of relief in the first game Sunday. He relieved Jake Junis with a 5-2 lead in the fifth, two outs and two on. The 29-year-old left-hander walked Max Kepler, then retired Kennys Vargas on a popup. Minor retired the side in order in the sixth.

Minor had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his pitching shoulder in May 13, 2015, and did not appear in the major leagues in 2015 and 2016. Minor, who signed a $7.25 million, two-year contract with the Royals in February 2016, got his first major league victory since Aug. 28, 2014, for Atlanta.

JUNIS' FIRST START

Kansas City's Jake Junis, a 24-year-old right-hander, was recalled from Triple-A Omaha and made his first big league start after a pair of relief appearances. He allowed two runs, five hits and four walks in 4 2/3 innings, leaving after RBI singles from Brian Dozier and Miguel Sano.

Junis found out Saturday that he would be making his first career start. He didn't pitch deep enough to get the win, but impressed manager Ned Yost before the Royals optioned Junis back to Omaha after the game.

"I thought he did a nice job," Yost said. "We tried to get him through that fifth inning, but we needed to win this game."

ROYALS MOVES

Kansas City left fielder Alex Gordon missed the second game to join his wife, who is due to give birth on Monday. Infielder Raul Mondesi replacing Gordon on the roster but was optioned to Triple-A Omaha after the game. That means LHP Miguel Almonte, initially the Royals' 26th active player Sunday, remains on the 25-man roster. ... RHP Al Alburquerque was designated for assignment to make room on the roster for Junis.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Royals: RHP Nate Karns had his pitching arm evaluated after Friday's start against Minnesota. Manager Ned Yost said fluid was found in the elbow area but Karns does not have a strain. Karns exited his start Friday after five innings and threw just 72 pitches due to stiffness in his arm.

Twins: RHP Phil Hughes was placed on the 10-day disabled list Sunday with shoulder discomfort. Hughes took the loss in the first game of Sunday's doubleheader. Right-hander Kyle Gibson will take Hughes' place on the roster.

UP NEXT

Royals: LHP Jason Vargas (5-2, 2.03 ERA) starts Monday's series opener at the New York Yankees.

Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson (0-4, 8.20 ERA) will be recalled from Triple-A Rochester to start Monday against Baltimore.