BY RYAN LEONG
For the last week and a half, the Giants have both looked and played like a winning team. Perhaps their rivalry with the A’s in the annual Bay Bridge series has given the orange and black a bit of a spark as they won six of the nine games on their just completed home stand. This includes series wins against both the contending Diamondbacks and the defending World Series Champion Chicago Cubs.
On Wednesday afternoon it was as if the Giants turned back the clock to 2014 because they got contributions from their World Series triumvirate of Madison Bumgarner, Hunter Pence, and…Pablo Sandoval ?
Everyone in baseball was scratching their heads at picking up the roly poly Venezuelan off the scrap heap when he was released by the Red Sox. But he’s been more than a panda hat sales gimmick, providing both a solid bat and a steady glove at third base. Sandoval has gotten the fans back to cheering for him after another single to left field Wednesday, along with scoring a run, and he also made a diving stop and throw to first base.
“He first told me he really missed this place and how happy he is to be back and it shows,” Pence said about Sandoval. “It’s a lot of fun having him back. It’s cool seeing the panda hats in the seats again. His playful spirit and the city are cohesive. They work together well.”
Bumgarner is also rounding into form after missing three months following his dirt bike accident where he injured his left shoulder. He’s now pitched three straight starts with 21 strikeouts where he’s gone seven innings giving up two runs or fewer in each outing.
“I’ll say it was simple as it is, we’ve got to go out and try to win the game we have that day,” said Bumgarner who won his second game of the season. “There’s no other way around it, there’s no way to make it sound sexy or anything like that. That’s it. We’ve got to win that game, it don’t matter if it’s against the Dodgers, Astros, Cubs…whoever. We’ve got to try to win that day.”
Jarrett Parker and Joe Panik each had RBI singles and the insurance run was a rare opposite field homer to the arcade by Pence in the 8th inning.
“It was nice to have two good series like that and really a pretty good homestand,” Manager Bruce Bochy said. “We played the type of ball that we need to play…we pitch well. Our starters gave us a chance even in the first game (loss) of the series that could have gone either way.
“Both teams pitched well and we scrapped. It’s good to get some wins against two very good ballclubs: Arizona and Chicago. Sure it’s a great feeling, makes for a good flight to head to Washington.”
The Giants head east on their next road trip to the Nation’s capital for a weekend series starting on Friday against Bryce Harper and former skipper Dusty Baker. Chris Stratton (0-2, 6.63 ERA) faces the Nats Edwin Jackson (2-2, 4.34 ERA) in the opener.
Ryan Leong is a San Francisco native and covers all Bay Area sports teams as a correspondent for ESPN radio and wire services. He is a former sports anchor for KCBS and has reported on over 3,600 live games since 1998.