Sandoval's cycle carries Giants to win over Rox

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Sandoval's cycle carries Giants to win over Rox

Sept. 15, 2011BOX SCORE GIANTS VIDEOMLB PAGE MLB SCOREBOARDDENVER (AP) -- When Pablo Sandoval saw Carlos Gonzalez crash into the wall he knew he had a chance at history, so he turned on his afterburners."When I saw him fall down, that's when I started running hard," Sandoval said. "Halfway between first and second that's when I thought I had a chance to make it."Sandoval slid headfirst into third base with a triple to complete the first cycle of his career and the San Francisco Giants beat the Colorado Rockies 8-5 on Thursday night to keep their slim postseason hopes alive.The Giants have won five straight and prevented Arizona from moving closer to clinching the NL West. The Diamondbacks lead the Giants by seven games with 12 to play."We've got a chance," Sandoval said. "You never know what's going to happen."Sandoval did his part to keep the Giants alive with his career night. He homered in the first, doubled in the second and singled in the fifth. He said he wasn't thinking about the cycle when San Francisco came to bat in the sixth.The rest of the team knew what he needed."I was rubbing his legs saying, 'Hey, I've got to get these things loose for a triple,'" manager Bruce Bochy said. "He said, 'Nah, I'm not even thinking about it.' Sure enough he hit the perfect ball. It's a great game for Pablo. It's quite a feat."Sandoval is the 25th Giant to hit for the cycle and the first since Fred Lewis accomplished the feat May 13, 2007, also at Coors Field. It is the 10th cycle recorded at Coors Field.The four hits all came against starter Jhoulys Chacin (11-12)."He hit everything I threw," Chacin said. "He hit a homer with a fastball, the base hit was a changeup. (The double) was off the plate and down and he just put the bat on it and he hit it to the other side. It was his night."It was all starter Ryan Vogelsong needed to end a personal five-game losing streak. Vogelsong pitched effectively into the sixth inning and had two hits."I wouldn't get too excited about those two hits, but I'll take them," he said.The Giants gave him an early lead to work with thanks to Sandoval's bat and poor fielding by the Rockies.San Francisco went ahead 2-0 in the first when Carlos Beltran singled with two outs and Sandoval homered into the second deck in right, his 20th.The Giants used two Colorado errors to extend the lead in the second. Brandon Crawford scored on a throwing error by shortstop Tommy Field. Jeff Keppinger hit a sacrifice fly and Jordan Pacheco misplayed Beltran's grounder at first, allowing Cody Ross to score from second to make it 5-0.The Rockies got one back in the third when Chacin scored from third on Mark Ellis' single. Pacheco made it 5-2 when he led off the fourth with his second home run.San Francisco made it 7-2 in the sixth on an RBI double by Ross, who scored on a double play grounder by Beltran."It was great to jump on top like that," Vogelsong said. "Definitely takes some of the pressure off."Vogelsong (11-7) allowed two runs and four hits, walked four and struck out eight in 5 2-3 innings.Santiago Casilla pitched the ninth for his fourth save.Colorado scored three runs in the seventh on Chris Iannetta's 13th homer and RBI doubles by Chris Nelson and Eric Young Jr.Brandon Belt led off the ninth with his sixth homer to make it 8-5.Chacin gave up seven runs - four earned - and nine hits, walked four and struck out one in 5 2-3 innings.Notes: Sandoval is the second player to hit for the cycle this season. Milwaukee catcher George Kottaras did it against Houston on Sept. 3. ... Gonzalez left the game in the seventh after aggravating his right wrist on Sandoval's triple. ... Rockies SS Troy Tulowitzki (hip) and 1B Todd Helton (back tightness) missed their second straight game. ... Giants closer Brian Wilson (right elbow strain) threw a side session Thursday. ... Left-hander Madison Bumgarner will face Colorado rookie right-hander Alex White on Friday in the second game of the four-game series. Bumgarner is 0-3 in five starts against the Rockies while White has never faced the Giants.

Giants spring training day 8: Melancon, Hundley go way back

Giants spring training day 8: Melancon, Hundley go way back

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — A couple of days before he signed a four-year deal, Mark Melancon fired off a midnight text to Nick Hundley. 

“Call me,” Melancon wrote.

When Hundley called, he found out his college teammate had chosen the Giants, ending a free agency process the two spoke about often. Two months later, it was Hundley’s turn to reach out. 

“I asked him if he wanted to play together again,” Hundley said. “He said, ‘You better not be messing with me.’”

The Giants signed just two free agents who are guaranteed of being on the opening day roster. In an odd twist, the new closer and new backup catcher have known each other for over a decade. Hundley was a second-round pick in 2005 out of the University of Arizona. A year later, his college teammate Melancon was a ninth-round pick. The two have stayed close throughout the pro ball journey. They were groomsmen in each other’s weddings and their wives and children hang out together. 

“We always talked about playing together,” Hundley said, adding that the odds were long in a 30-team sport.

The friends have crossed off a good chunk of them. Melancon has played for the Yankees, Astros, Red Sox, Pirates and Nationals. Hundley has played for the Padres, Orioles and Rockies. Finally, the two have hooked on to the same team, and the Giants are excited to have them both. Hundley will be the veteran catcher the team has missed in recent years, and the Giants are hopeful that he’s a pinch-hit threat, too. Melancon, of course, was brought in to fix the glaring problem in the ninth. Hundley is confident he’ll do it.

“I’ve caught him since 2005,” he said smiling, “And he’s always been nasty.”

NEW FACE: It’s hard to take much away from drills, but Orlando Calixte certainly impressed. As the Giants worked out on the field for the first time in three days, I asked GM Bobby Evans what Calixte showed the team’s scouts. “Just his athleticism, his tools, they stand out,” Evans said. They certainly do. Calixte is smooth out there, and he showed quickness at short that might differentiate him from the pack of infield options. 

Calixte has also played second, third and the outfield in the minors, and while the Giants intend on keeping five outfielders, that versatility could come into play. The Giants plucked Calixte from Kansas City’s system and put him on the 40-man roster when it became apparent that other offers were out there. They thought he could provide more versatility than Ehire Adrianza, and it helps that he has an option remaining. Calixte has to beat out a bunch of guys to win a roster spot, but given his glove and his status on the 40-man, it would be a surprise if we don’t see him at some point this season. 

ICYMI: Bruce Bochy said he’ll call Johnny Cueto to talk about his preparation for the World Baseball Classic. 

POSITION BATTLE: Matt Cain, the clear frontrunner for the No. 5 spot, faced hitters on the main field. Bochy liked what he saw. “He’s gotten more time away from that surgery and he’s throwing the ball well,” Bochy said. “Buster said the same thing. It’s coming out good.”

NOTEWORTHY: The Giants are serious about making Trevor Brown a more versatile option. He fielded grounders at short today and also spent plenty of time at second. 

QUOTABLE: “Just a good day. We (the coaches) were talking about how it’s changed a little bit. We’re not even in March yet and guys are letting it go.” — Bochy on the first day of live BP sessions. The pitchers were certainly well ahead of the hitters today. 

Will Cueto be ready for the WBC? 'That’s the question we have to answer'

Will Cueto be ready for the WBC? 'That’s the question we have to answer'

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Jeff Samardzija whirled and fired a strike to Eduardo Nuñez shortly after 11:30 a.m. on Monday. With that, the Giants took another step back toward actual baseball.

Monday was the first day of live batting practice sessions, but the most important one took place thousands of miles east of Scottsdale Stadium. Johnny Cueto faced teenage prospects at the club’s facility in Santo Domingo, and Bruce Bochy said he would call Cueto to check in on his progress. 

The Giants are not concerned that Cueto — who is tending to his ill father — is missing so much of spring training. They know him well enough by now to know that Cueto paces himself and takes care of his body. They are, however, starting to get a little concerned about Cueto missing so much camp and then going straight to the World Baseball Classic. 

“The spring started early so he’s got plenty of time to get ready for (opening day),” manager Bruce Bochy said. “The question will be will he be ready for the WBC. That’s the question we have to answer.”

Bochy said he would like to see Cueto in the 50-60 pitch range before he goes off to compete for the Dominican Republic. The Dominican team opens play March 9 at Marlins Park. 

“We’re going to talk about a lot of things,” Bochy said. “We’ll see where he’s at, see where he’s at mentally, and see how his father is doing.”

Bochy noted that Nolan Ryan used to show up to camp on March 1 and throw 80 mph, working his way up from there. The Giants view Cueto the same way, but at some point there will be a breaking point where the WBC participation becomes a real concern. At the very least, Bochy said, Cueto might be asked to join the DR team later in the tournament.