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.
DENVER — Bruce Bochy watched the first two games of this road trip from his home in San Diego and the final three from the top step of the dugout at Coors Field. He did not like what he saw, but at the moment he’s more concerned with what he might hear.
“What you have to careful of — you can’t let any kind of complacency set in and say, ‘It’s early, we’ll be ok.’ I don’t want to hear that either,” Bochy said. “It’s the old adage that you come out with some sense of urgency. All these games are important. You’ve got to stay away from that attitude, too: ‘We’re not through April yet and have 140-something games left.’ That doesn’t work out.”
Three weeks into the season, nothing is working. The rotation has a 5.02 ERA, the worst in the Majors. The lineup scored 10 runs over a five-game road trip and got shut out twice. The bullpen hasn’t been given many leads with which to make up for the first-week trouble. The defense has been uncharacteristically sloppy.
It has added up to a 6-13 start, tied for the worst in club history. The Giants have lost six of seven and they’ll head home seven games out of first place.
“Right now there’s nothing clicking,” Bochy said. “Let’s be honest, this has been a rough start and we’re not very good right now. I’m not saying we’re not very good. We are good, but we’ve got to find a way to come out of this. This was a tough way to end this series. We’ve been through it. I’ve got men out there and that’s when you find a way to get through this. They will.”
Perhaps Monday will bring some fresh blood for the roster. Drew Stubbs appears poised to give the Giants another veteran option should they cut bait with a struggling outfielder. Michael Morse could be an option in left field soon, and if he’s mostly relegated to first, the Giants can put Brandon Belt in the outfield. He looked fine there Sunday while playing both corner spots.
Those are moves made around the edges of the roster, though. There is no magic bullet coming from the outside, not even Christian Arroyo, who continues to mash at Triple-A. This is a $200 million roster and much of that has been spent on the rotation. Through 13 games, it is the worst in the National League, and the ace was lost to an off-field accident. Sure, the starters have pitched at Chase Field and Coors Field, but on back-to-back days they were dominated by Rockies rookies who make a living here.
Samardzija could not keep pace with left-hander Kyle Freeland, who sawed off a handful of bats while cruising through seven. Samardzjiza gave up a run early, two more in the fourth on a hanging splitter that was blasted to right, and five in the sixth.
Bochy challenged his starting staff to improve after Saturday’s game. He has not publicly done the same with the lineup, but subtle changes have been made here and there. It is a group that, outside of a couple of players, has lacked energy. Because they don’t hit for power, the Giants are reliant on stringing together rallies. For the fourth time in seven games, the lineup failed to put a runner on base the first time through the order.
“Even in spring training we had our games where we had trouble getting something going early,” Bochy said. “It’s the fourth or fifth before a hit. Somehow, we’ve got to change that.”
The Giants played Sunday without Jarrett Parker (clavicle) and Denard Span (right shoulder sprain), but for the most part the lineup is healthy. Bochy said he has talked to hitting coach Hensley Meulens about possibly altering pre-game routines, but that seems a cosmetic fix.
“We’ve talked and we’ve shaken up the lineup, but as you saw today, there’s only so much you can do,” he said.
Bochy knows there is outside noise regarding the roster. His eyes bulged the other day when asked if Arroyo would get a call-up next week. The Giants do not feel he is quite ready, or that there is a spot for him on the infield. For all the potential bench options waiting at Triple-A, this team's core is set, and it’s not outrageously banged-up compared to the rest of the division.
The Dodgers, who come into town Monday, have 10 players on the disabled list, including No. 2 starter Rich Hill, second baseman Logan Forsythe, and left fielder Andre Ethier. The Rockies, the best team in the NL West thus far, are off to this start without big offseason acquisition Ian Desmond and young slugger David Dahl. Jon Gray, their opening day starter, went on the DL after facing the Giants in San Francisco. Chad Bettis, a rotation member, is getting treatment for testicular cancer.
This division is better than expected, and as the end of April approaches, the Giants are bringing up the rear. Bochy’s plea for urgency was one that would have fit right in with last season’s second half. Back then, the Giants could at least lean on a huge start that got them into the postseason. As they flew home Sunday, there was nothing to fall back on but a simple truth.
This is the team. It must play better.
“We have everything we need in this room,” Samardzija said. “Sometimes you need to go out on the field and prove it.”
DENVER — Bruce Bochy spent about 10 minutes before Sunday’s game talking about potential options in left field and center. The problems for this lineup, however, currently go much deeper than the outfield.
A day after the Giants managed just four hits off Antonio Senzatela, the bats went completely limp against fellow Rockies rookie Kyle Freeland. The Giants were shut out 8-0, a rarity at Coors Field. They were blanked twice on the road trip and scored just 10 runs during a five-game swing through Kansas City and Denver.
The sweep at Coors Field was the Giants' first since 2002. At 6-13, they have the worst record in the National League.
For the fourth time in seven games, and third time on this five-game road trip, the Giants went one time through the order without a baserunner. That puts added pressure on your starter, and Jeff Samardzija couldn’t keep it close. Charlie Blackmon hit a leadoff liner to right that was misplayed into a triple and he scored on a sacrifice fly. Gerardo Parra got a spinner down in the zone in the fourth and blasted a two-run shot to right.
As they did Saturday night, the Rockies pulled away with a huge rally. Nolan Arenado’s infield single and a walk of Carlos Gonzalez set the table in the sixth. Gerardo Parra lined a single to center and all runners advanced when Gorkys Hernandez kicked it. Trevor Story’s single to right was bobbled by Hunter Pence and two more scored. Blackmon’s double made it 8-0.
Starting pitching report: Samardzija was charged with seven earned in 5 1/3 innings. He has a 7.40 ERA through four starts. The starting staff has a 5.02 ERA, the worst in the majors. That won’t play, not when you’ve spent most of your resources the last two years on starters.
Bullpen report: Hunter Strickland's Mullet had a scoreless debut.
At the plate: Nope.
In the field: Brandon Belt’s first start in left this season was rather uneventful. He caught a liner right at him in the first and came up inches short on a diving attempt in foul territory. Belt moved to right in the seventh inning. He had one previous inning there in the big leagues but he actually prefers right because it’s the same angle as his normal position. Belt gloved a liner right at him in the eighth.
Attendance: The Rockies announced a crowd of 42,011 human beings and one donkey, who was a menace.
Up next: The first look at the Dodgers. The Giants will see Hyun-Jin Ryu, Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood and likely Julio Urias in the four-game series.