The Giants faced a serious issue of addressing their recent struggles heading into the first series on an important August road trip at Coors Field. In the midst of a tight NL West division race with the Dodgers and Diamondbacks, the Giants had an awful home stand and needed a morale booster for the struggling ball club.
The confidence and morale of the Giants team was low after an extremely disappointing ten game home stand, where the Giants were swept by their division rival Dodgers, and lost three out of four to the struggling Mets to finish with a 3-7 record. The lack of offensive production can be attributed not only to the absence of the injured Pablo Sandoval from the lineup, but lackluster at-bats from seemingly everyone but Buster Posey and Melky Cabrera. The Giants missed many opportunities to get important hits with runners in scoring position and the pressing need to improve this facet of their lineup pressured GM Brian Sabean to pull the trigger on trades for OF Hunter Pence and INF Marco Scutaro at the trade deadline. The two recent acquisitions are just getting adjusted to the new organization and haven’t provided a huge spark to the offense quite yet despite their offensive potential. The Giants only hit two home runs in the entire ten game home stand!
The recent struggles by the normally solid bullpen, including shaky performances by Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla, have also concerned the organization. Romo, after only giving up two home runs to right-handed hitters in the last two seasons, allowed devastating two home runs in close games by Hanley Ramirez of the Dodgers and Jerry Hairston of the Mets in back-to-back outings. It is quite unusual to see a vulnerable Giants bullpen, and both manager Bruce Bochy and GM Brian Sabean are brainstorming ways to improve the consistency and performance of the bullpen.
What better solution to their recent struggles than an enormous offensive explosion against a struggling former Giant’s pitcher, Jonathan Sanchez, on the lowly Rockies team, in a 16-4 rout for the most runs scored all season by the Giants?
Bruce Bochy had a pregame team meeting before Friday’s game to challenge the hitters to “man up” and compete better with better approaches at the plate. Nobody heard the message more clearly than the frustrated Angel Pagan, who has been really struggling in the last month or so after a torrid start to the season when he hit safely in a remarkable 46 of 48 games. He injured his hand after hitting an object with a bat in frustration recently, and needed to turn things around to help the team. Pagan was placed in the lead-off spot for the first time since May 23, and responded by igniting the Giants offense with a leadoff double and reached base four times in the game, finishing a home run away from the cycle.
The Giants, all familiar with the shortcomings of the erratic and wild Jonathan Sanchez recently, jumped on Sanchez early for a two-run first inning and made him throw 36 pitches.
The Giants added a run in the fourth when first baseman Brett Pill, who started because the Giants faced a left-handed starter, belted a home run to greet the right-handed reliever Adam Ottavino.
They sustained a rally in the seventh that Ryan Vogelsong started with a double for his first extra-base hit of the season. Pagan followed with an RBI triple, marking the first time since July 5 that he reached base three times in a game.
After Theriot walked, Melky Cabrera, who was acquired for Sanchez from Kansas City, continued to confirm no doubt that the Giants pulled the trade of the offseason. He hit a two-run double for his major league-leading 146th hit of the season as the Giants gave themselves some breathing room.
They got plenty more in a six-run eighth inning, as Buster Posey fouled off a 3-0 pitch before clubbing the next one for a three-run home run to open up the game.
Ryan Volgelsong had another solid pitching performance shutting down the Rockies hitters before a four-run rally in the seventh inning caused his ERA to rise to 2.38 and his streak of quality starts ended. He is now second in the N.L. in ERA behind the Nationals’ Jordan Zimmermann. However, he got plenty of offensive support to improve to 9-5 on the season. The bullpen also had a solid confidence booster as George Kontos threw great in the seventh inning, Jeremy Affeldt threw a scoreless eighth and Santiago Casilla was able to regain some confidence in a 1-2-3 ninth.
The Giants hope to build on the offensive outpouring when they continue their series at Coors Field against the lackluster pitching staff of the N.L. West. Madison Bumgarner (11-6, 3.09) takes the mound against Rockies left-hander Jeff Francis (3-3, 5.43) at 5:10 PST.