Kruk and Kuip: It will be a happy flight back to San Francisco
SAN DIEGO – After each of his three home runs Wednesday afternoon, Pablo Sandoval trotted back to the dugout and scanned the faces.
He was looking for one guy: Brandon Crawford.
And Crawford admits he deserved to be singled out.
“I … may have said something,” said the Giants’ sheepish shortstop.
Crawford’s comment came after his home run in the second inning – the first of six hit by the Giants, their largest total in almost two years, in a 13-5 rout of the San Diego Padres at Petco Park.
Crawford had just hit his ninth home run. Sandoval was stuck on 10.
“In April, when I had more home runs than he did, he said, `Talk to me in September,’” Crawford said. “So I said, `Pablo, how many home runs’ve you got? Ten? Well, it’s September and I’m only one behind you.
“He said, `Just wait.’ And he hit three home runs. I didn’t know it was that easy.”
Sandoval hit a two-run shot in the fifth inning, a solo shot in the eighth and then a three-run shot to the opposite field in the ninth – repeating his historic performance from Game 1 of the World Series off Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers.
He entered that at-bat in the fifth with three home runs over his previous 303 plate appearances, dating back to late July. Then, boom-boom-boom.
“He fired me up a little bit,” Sandoval said of Crawford. “He asked me how many home runs and I said, `OK, we’ll see what’s going on right now.’”
Sandoval made a similar prediction even before the game started. He was going over video earlier in the day with hitting coach Hensley “Bam Bam” Meulens and they looked at footage of his hot streak toward the end of last season.
“See it and enjoy the moment,” Sandoval said he told Meulens in the cage. “Just sit down and enjoy the party.”
The party included a career-high six RBIs. It also included two-run shots from Hunter Pence and Hector Sanchez that gave the Giants a 5-2 lead in the fourth inning. Their six homers was their most since they opened up a six-pack at Coors Field on Sept. 19, 2011.
And it was the most a team ever hit in a game in 10 seasons at Petco Park. The Seattle Mariners, Atlanta Braves and Padres (twice) had hit five in a game here.
“That’s what power will do for you,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who stayed late after Tuesday night’s loss in which the club went 3 for 15 with runners in scoring position, hoping to find a way to improve the team’s situational hitting. “You don’t have to hit with runners in scoring position when you hit it out of the ballpark.”
The Giants hadn’t hit six home runs over their previous 15 games. They hit nine in all of July. They entered Wednesday on pace for 92 – 10 fewer than last year, when they hit the fewest in the majors.
It put team-wide pressure on them to cash in every situation, since they’ve been a singles-hitting club all year.
“Guys just woke up with the bats,” Bochy said. “I wish I had a reason why they broke out the way they did. But it’s nice. It’s been awhile.”
Sandoval’s home runs came off three different Padres right-handed relievers: Brad Brach, Brad Boxberger and Anthony Bass. The final two were hit to the opposite field. It was his sixth multi-homer game in the regular season, and other than his World Series MVP performance, it was first time he clubbed three in a game.
Did it look to Bochy like Sandoval was gunning for it in that last at-bat?
“Well, it always looks like he’s gunning for it, to be honest,” the manager said.
Sandoval hit the mark. And then he set his sights on Crawford.
“Home run, home run, home run,” said a laughing Panda. “And he’s back there, hiding.”