SAN DIEGO Now that Melky Cabrera is but shadow and specter,who is under the most pressure to step up in the Giants lineup?
Is it Pablo Sandoval, the jubilant switch-hitting Panda,whose return overlapped just one day with Cabrera before the 50-game suspension camedown?
Is it Hunter Pence, the big piece acquired at the tradedeadline? Is it Brandon Belt, who has shown so much life of late amid so manywasted stretches this season? Or Angel Pagan remaining a spark in the leadoffspot? Or Marco Scutaro continuing to make a surprising contribution?
Or does Buster Posey simply have to keep hitting .430 with aslugging percentage near .800 for the remainder of the second half?
Maybe its all of them. They showed what a collection ofsmart, tenacious at-bats can accomplish Friday night, and the result was a 10-1victory and the most potent inning by an opposing team in nine seasons at PetcoPark.
RECAP: Giants 10, Padres 1
The Giants became the first opponent to score an eight-runinning in the ample ballpark wedged next to the Western Metal Supply Co.building. And they did it without a grand slam or even a solo home run. They racked up those eight runs by working counts, spoiling pitchers strikes andmaking hard contact on mistakes.
Belt fouled off seven pitches while drawing a 12-pitch walk,and even he was surprised to learn it lasted so long.
Sandoval fouled off one pitch with Scutaro on the move, thensmartly took another with a 2-2 count that allowed Scutaro to steal (and takethird on a throwing error). Sandoval wasted no time cashing in the chance,punching a hard RBI single through the right side.
Pence, who was 1-for-26 against the Padres this season,contributed a well-struck double that drove in another run.
And Pagan provided the flash by hitting his third triple ofthe month (while getting within four of matching Willie Mays single-seasonfranchise record of 12.)
And we havent even mentioned Brandon Crawford, who startedthe rally with a double and ended up scoring twice in the inning. (Yes, aGiants player scored twice in the same inning at Petco Park. Im not sure ifthats ever happened, either.)
So who is the key, again?
I think its more of a group thing, Belt said. Everybodyhas to pick up the slack, especially for a guy like Melky. I dont have anydoubt we can do that.
A game like this and in a place that has shown the Giants hittersplenty of frustration over the years can only reinforce that belief.
I think it gives us confidence and momentum going into thenext few games, knowing without one of our best players, we can score runs,Belt said.
It was a sight to behold for Matt Cain, too. The Giantsremain a pitching-oriented team, and theres no way they can win the N.L. Westwithout maintaining the base of the pyramid. So every game that they can playwithout putting their pitchers in a vise grip, the better itll be for everyoneshealth and sanity.
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We have a great team and a great group of guys, Cain said.They all know what they can do. What happened on Wednesday was tough for allof us, a shock for all of us. But youve got to turn the page real fast, andthe guys did a good job with that.
Manager Bruce Bochys chuck wagon helped with that. TheGiants had played 20 consecutive games before Thursdays day off, and severalplayers along with the coaching staff took advantage of the down time to attacka menu that included chicken, tri-tip and ribs along with baked beans and therequisite potato salad.
There was nothing left, Bochy said. They did a good jobon it.
Bochy noted that more than anything, the day off freshenedup a team that needed a physical and mental break. He was glad that Cain lastedeight innings, allowing him to give the bullpen an even longer charging period.(And it should be noted that the Giants dont have any more long stretcheswithout a day off; they have four breaks in the schedule and wont play morethan 10 in a row the rest of the way.)
The Giants even started Sandoval on a 3-2 pitch with oneout, signaling that his strained hamstring continues to get better.
With where he is now, when its time to put him in motion, were going to doit, Bochy said.
The Giants hope theyll put much more in motion over thesenext six weeks. It takes light, after all, to create shadows.