Sandoval: 'It's fun to see a lot of hits, a lot of runs'
Pablo Sandoval reached base six times, including four hits, on Friday against the Marlins. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
Hunter Pence (left) and Brandon Belt return to the dugout after scoring on Pablo Sandoval's first inning double. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
MIAMI – Pablo Sandoval often stays late for some extra postgame conditioning work. He didn’t need it Friday night.
Sandoval was on base six times in the Giants’ 14-10 victory at Marlins Park. Even Jane Fonda would agree that’s enough cardio for anybody.
“I don’t think I’ve been on base six times in the last three weeks,” said Sandoval, who could smile about it after he knocked in three runs for the first time since May 14.
Brandon Belt scored four runs and finished a homer short of the cycle. Hunter Pence drove in five, with two doubles and a triple. His three extra-base hits matched his career high, last done in 2010 with the Houston Astros.
The Giants had their own pitching troubles -- Chad Gaudin had the equivalent of an empty-netter and fanned on it when he couldn’t record an out in the fifth inning – and so their victory felt more like they survived a skirmish than enjoyed a romp.
Still, for an offense that had scored the second fewest runs (2.71) since the All-Star break, behind the Marlins, of all teams, their night of excess in South Florida was one to be enjoyed.
What was the reaction in the dugout to the 19 hits, eight of them for extra bases, and the 14 runs?
“It’s everything,” Belt said. “It’s`What is going on right now?’ It was a lot of fun. It was one of those things we knew we had in us, and it came out today.
“And I’ve got to say, there are a lot of hitters on this team working really hard to work the kinks out and it’s showing.”
Pence is one of those hitters. He was hitting .351 since the break, but 27 of his 34 hits were singles and he didn’t have any triples or home runs. He’s gone deep just once since June 30.
Asked if he’s made any changes at the plate, he pursed his lips. He didn’t want to talk about swing mechanics, but clearly he’s been working to make some changes.
“I’m not going to lie, not hitting a home run in so long is frustrating,” Pence said. “But those are going to happen. I’ve hit some balls good and not in the right place.
“But it’s not about finding a way to hit home runs. It’s about finding ways to win games. It’s having better at-bats with runners on, things of that nature.”
That goes for Sandoval, too. It’s hard to believe that he’d gone three months without driving at least three runs in a game. But his two-run double was a key hit in the first inning, and he added an RBI single in the second. Then came two more singles, an intentional walk and one more walk in the ninth.
He’s the first Giant to reach base six times via hit, walk or hit batter since Nate Schierholtz was 5 for 5 with a walk in April, 2010. Not that anyone wanted this game to go longer, but if it had, Sandoval might have had a shot to match the all-time Giants record for seven times on base – held by three Hall of Famers, Willie Mays, Bill Terry and Mel Ott.
“I just try to trust my hands and put the ball in play, swing the bat,” said Sandoval, who entered with a .688 OPS that ranked as the lowest of his career – even worse than 2010, when he lost his job down the stretch.
“I know everything’s going to getting better every day because I’m working hard. But I need to be consistent now. I can’t be one day on, one day off.”
Hector Sanchez was more than consistent. He was uncanny while hitting a three-run home run for the second consecutive day.
But after catching all 190 pitches over nine innings and three hours, 43 minutes, Bochy’s going to have to turn to his other catcher Saturday. Yep. Buster Posey picked a great game to take a night off.
“Hector’s gassed,” Bochy said. “He’ll need a break tomorrow.”