Sanchez redeems self with game-winning hit


Sanchez redeems self with game-winning hit


SAN FRANCISCO -- As he strode to the plate with runners at first and second and none out in the 12th inning, Hector Sanchez stared at Giants third-base coach Tim Flannery, fulling expecting to get the sign to bunt.Instead, Sanchez was given the green light to hit away."I was like, 'Wow,'" Sanchez said in Spanish. "That gave me confidence, you know?"If you didn't know, now you do. As do the Houston Astros. Sanchez's single off second baseman Jose Altuve allowed Pablo Sandoval to score from second base and give the Giants not only a 3-2 victory, but reclaim first place in the National League West by 12 a game over the Los Angeles Dodgers.Of course, Sanchez and his career-high fourth hit of the night -- he said he last had four hits in a game in 2010 for Class A Augusta -- had a back story. One of redemption.It was his throwing error on a potential game-ending strikeout with two out in the ninth inning that allowed the Astros to tie the score at 2-2 when the ball scooted away from Sanchez toward the third-base dugout and deny Tim Lincecum just his second win since April 28."That's a tough play to make anyways," said Lincecum, who had a season-high 11 strikeouts in a season best-tying eight innings. He also lowered his career ERA against the Astros to 0.99 and has received two runs or fewer of support in 12 of his 19 starts this season."It was good to see him come up big there."In fact, Sanchez, who was four-for-six with a run-scoring double in the sixth inning, said he was trying to make that last play to clinch the victory for Lincecum, who he caught for the fifth consecutive start."I was too quick on that play," Sanchez said. "The catcher was running. I went too fast."The play also gave closer Santiago Casilla a blown save -- his fourth blown save in his last six opportunities -- as it was his third strike to Chris Snyder that got away from Sanchez, who slid to retrieve the ball and fired to first, wide and late. An alert Justin Maxwell, meanwhile, kept on running from second to score the tying run."That's a tough way to get a blown save," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy."(But) it is rewarding to see a guy who felt so awful a few innings earlier come through."It was the rookie Sanchez's second walk-off hit of the season, along with the game-ending base hit he had on May 6 in the 11th inning against Milwaukee."It's what we want to do," Sanchez said, "keep winning, keep playing."And, it turns out, keep getting the green light.

Giants hire David Bell to fill key front office role


Giants hire David Bell to fill key front office role

SAN FRANCISCO -- A familiar face is returning to the Giants organization to serve a key front office role.

The Giants announced Friday that David Bell, their former third baseman, has been hired as Vice President of Player Development. General manager Bobby Evans said Bell will oversee all aspects of player development, including hitting, pitching, strength and conditioning and the operations of the minor league affiliates. 

"He was the perfect fit," Evans said. "His experience is so strong and encompasses so many aspects of the game. He’s got a really strong base of experience and background and understanding of the game, and he has a passion for the game and working with young players. He really showed a desire to pursue this opportunity." 

Bell, 45, played 12 major league seasons and spent 2002 with the Giants. He hit 20 homers that year as the starting third baseman and scored the winning run in the final game of the NLCS. Since retiring, Bell has served as a minor league manager for the Reds and a big league coach for the Cubs and Cardinals. He spent last season as the bench coach in St. Louis. 

Shane Turner had previously served as farm director, but at the end of the minor league season he was asked to take a role as a special assistant in baseball operations. While Evans did not announce any other changes Friday, there are expected to be other moves within the organization's depth chart. At least one member of the coaching staff is still in the running for a managerial opening. 

Dusty Baker won't be remembered the way he should be remembered


Dusty Baker won't be remembered the way he should be remembered

Firing a manager is easy, and there are lots of ways to do it.

Dusty Baker, for example. He worked this year on the last year of a contract, which usually means there won’t be another one, and he relied on his players to deliver the goods.

Which, as we remember from our reading, they didn’t do. Again.

But Baker was marked for the chop unless those players did deliver, and when they didn’t, general manager Mike Rizzo did the expedient thing.

He fired one person rather than several. And changed exactly nothing.

Baker’s managerial career is probably over now, as most teams don’t look at 68-year-olds to fix their teams. He will never manage a  World Series champion, something he ached for, and he was always be caricatured in part as the guy who didn’t speak metric, and who believed in players as men whenever in doubt.

And the Nats didn’t betray him, either. They were always not as good in the big moments because someone else was, and they became part of Washington’s new fetish – Why Can’t We Win One? It’s as if having a cringeworthy President isn’t good enough for them.

So the time came, and he will be replaced by someone who will either win and get credit for work that was largely his, or he won’t win and the town can continue to wallow in its tedious We’re-The-New-Cubs pity. It is the circle of life.

At least it is for groups of people. For individuals, the circle of life is actually nothing more than a straight line that ends abruptly. For Dusty Baker, as it did for Tony La Russa in Phoenix two days earlier, that day came today. He deserves to be remembered as a very good manager who won a lot more than he lost, made more friends than enemies, and was honest from Day One until the end.

Which, as we also know, doesn’t matter a whole lot on days like this.