Bochy, Sabean expect lineup consistency with Sandoval back

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Bochy, Sabean expect lineup consistency with Sandoval back

SAN FRANCISCO Pablo Sandoval left the Giants game againstthe San Diego Padres on July 24 with a strained left hamstring, but watched histeammates pull off a win for a 2.5-game lead in the National League West. Aftermissing 18 games, Sandoval returns to a club now tied for the division leadwith the Los Angeles Dodgers.
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Its good to have him back, Giants manager Bruce Bochysaid. When you lose your big guy, I guess you hope you hold ground until hegets back and I think weve done a pretty good job of that and now we have himback in the lineup with Hunter Pence. It just makes us that much betteroffensively.Sandoval saw his first action in Mondays ugly 14-2 loss toopen a three-game series with the MLB-leading Washington Nationals. After anunsuccessful pinch-hit appearance late in Mondays game, Sandoval gets hisfirst chance to impact a new-look starting lineup that includes Pence.Before his brief appearance Monday, Sandoval played in three rehab games withthe Single-A San Jose Giants. He went 3-for-10 with a double, but wasnt runningat 100 effort. As far as his timing, thats why we wanted him to go downand get a few at-bats, Bochy said. Thats what youre trying to do when theygo to rehab and play two or three games, so you dont have the break-in periodor that three-to-four game period where theyre trying to get their timing. Heshould be fine.Bochy is confident that Sandovals hamstring will hold up to the pressure of aMajor League Baseball game, but he still isnt ready to declare his youngslugger 100 healthy.Id say 90-95, Bochy said. It takes a little while toget this thing completely gone. At the same time, hes playable. Players playlike this.Giants general manager Brian Sabean told Comcast SportsNets Jim Kozimor onChronicle Live Tuesday that he expects Sandoval to be his old self after theteams next road trip."Currently the plan isto play him the next two days, Sabean said. We get the off day on Thursdayand evaluate how we'll be able to play him on the road trip. He should be 100percent by that time. WithSandoval now back to being a staple in the middle of the Giants lineup, itleaves Bochy with a daily debate about who to start at second base. Tuesday,Marco Scutaro got the call, but Bochy said he will start Ryan Theriot at secondWednesday and leave Scutaro on the bench. Ileave that up to Boch, as we always do, Sabean said. Scutaro has done a nicejob and so has Theriot so that's a nice problem. Scutaro can also playshortstop. So we have a lot more depth and versatility, which you need.Otherthan the flexibility at second base, Bochy said he expects to use a similarlineup to the one he penciled in Tuesday moving forward. That lineup includesSandoval batting ahead of Pence and behind Melky Cabrera and Buster Posey.Id say this is probably pretty close to what well haveout there for the most part, Bochy said.Sabean is in agreement:Ithink it'll go down, pretty much from here on in, the way Bochy set it up(Tuesday), Sabean said.Bochy has said previously that he would not push Sandoval to play first base inthe near future, but wanted to leave that option open eventually. On ChronicleLive Tuesday, Sabean implied that eventually may mean next season.He willplay third base primarily, Sabean said. I think you'll probably see him therethe rest of the year. Hit fifth, at least in tonight's lineup, that's the waywe'll go.

Headed for 100 losses, Giants quietly give up on "Don't Stop Believin'" tradition

Headed for 100 losses, Giants quietly give up on "Don't Stop Believin'" tradition

SAN FRANCISCO — At some point over the last month, the Giants quietly stopped playing “Don’t Stop Believin’” in the late innings of games they trail. 

It’s unclear exactly when it started, or who made the decision. A number of team employees, surveyed over the past week, had noticed. But nobody knew the exact details. Perhaps the longtime staple of AT&T Park was shelved on July 9, when FanGraphs dropped the playoff odds to 0.00 percent for the first time in a lost season. Maybe it was during a bad loss before that or a bad loss after that. You can take your pick. This season has been filled with so many of them it’s hard to keep track. 

Friday’s stood out, in part because this was the kind of night where Journey briefly made sense. The Giants gave Jeff Samardzija a 4-0 lead in the first inning against a Padres team that spent the early innings kicking and throwing the ball all over the field and making mistakes on the bases. It was 5-1 after three innings. By the sixth, the Padres had tied it. By the seventh, they had the lead. By the eighth, it was a three-run lead. 

Before the bottom of the eighth, the in-stadium crew played Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” for a crowd of a few thousand. Last weekend, Huey Lewis was the fill-in for Journey. On Wednesday, a game the Giants actually came back to win, the scoreboard played a singalong game to “Happy Together” by The Turtles. 

On this night, the Giants actually would come back. Conor Gillaspie hit a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth, tying the game and sending it into extras. The Giants had trailed by three with one out remaining, but the momentum provided by Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford and Gillaspie was just a blip. The Padres scored three in the 11th off George Kontos, who has pitched five times over the last eight days and was supposed to get a night to rest. 

Kontos was the last to give up runs in a 12-9 loss, but hardly the only one. Samardzija took blame after failing to get through five with a big early cushion. That put pressure on the tired bullpen, and the relievers blew it over and over again. The Padres scored runs in six consecutive innings at one point and had 20 hits. 

“We couldn’t stop them,” Bruce Bochy said, shaking his head. 

Nothing can apparently stop this skid. The Giants are 37-61 and six games behind the Padres. They are much closer to the No. 1 draft pick than they are to fourth place in their division. 

“Don’t Stop Believin’” survived the 2013 season. It survived 2015 and the second half of last year. Nothing can survive this season.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as Giants lose marathon in extras to Padres

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as Giants lose marathon in extras to Padres

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — A few hundred, maybe a few thousand, stayed to watch the Giants late Friday night. The Giants did not make it worth the effort. 

Conor Gillaspie’s two-out homer in the ninth sent the game to extras, but the Giants lost 12-9 in a game that lasted nearly five hours. The Giants had trailed by three with two outs and nobody on in the ninth. They tied it. Instead of carrying that momentum over, they suffered yet another demoralizing loss. 

They have dropped both games of this series and they trail the Padres -- who had 20 hits -- by six games in the race for fourth place. Those are facts. Here are five more, mostly from earlier, when a young man harbored dreams of leaving a ballpark before 1 a.m. … 

—- Hector Sanchez took Jeff Samardzija deep to lead off the fourth, and at this point it’s flat-out hilarious. Sanchez has seven homers this season and three have come against his former team. He hit two homers at AT&T Park in 296 plate appearances as a Giant, and the fourth-inning blast gave him three in 11 plate appearances as a Padre. He also doubled in a run and singled. It’s an all-time revenge tour. Just go along for the ride. 

—- There were a ton of scouts on hand to watch two starting pitchers who could move in the next 10 days, and they left disappointed. Trevor Cahill gave up six earned on seven hits and four walks and lasted just 3 2/3 innings. Jeff Samardzija gave up eight hits and five earned in 4 1/3 innings. 

—- I dunno man, it’s really hard getting to five of these every night. Sam Dyson was good again. 

—- Gillaspie's pinch-hit homer was the sixth of his career. He's a hero around these parts, but perhaps Bobby Evans should see if a team out there was watching Friday and remembers his October run. Gillaspie could help a contender. 

—- When MLB inevitably introduces a pitch clock and pitchers start complaining, this will be the game I tell them to sit down and try to watch start to finish.