San Francisco Giants get best of Royals as Crawford and Panik shine
During Monday’s San Francisco Giants win over the Kansas City Royals, Alex Pavlovic posted an article on CSNBA, “Brandon Crawford breaks down biggest homer of career,” which effectively injected some of that electricity from the Wild Card game last October directly into current picture.
In the piece the predominant memory of the moment, as shared by both Brandon Belt, who was on first base when the blast left the yard, and B-Craw himself, was how eerily quiet everything got. One second the boisterous Pittsburgh crowd was rocking the stadium with two strikes on Crawford, the bases loaded, and nothing but goose eggs to be seen on the scoreboard.
The next instant it was as though the plug got pulled as the goose eggs were replaced simply by egg, all over the Pirates’ hopes of advancing past the treacherous Wild Card showdown. The Orange and Black went on to an 8-0 victory in the first of Madison Bumgarner’s epic 2015 postseason performances.
Oct 1, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner (40) throws a pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the ninth inning of the 2014 National League Wild Card playoff baseball game at PNC Park. The Giants won 8-0. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
As Pavlovic pointed out, Crawford batted out of the eighth spot in the lineup much of the season and yet accumulated 69 RBIs, fourth-most on the team. He knocked in 32 of those runs while batting directly in front of the pitcher, third highest total in the National League. On top of that, he was second in the league with ten sacrifice flies.
On Monday when Crawford stepped to the plate with the bases again loaded against Edinson Volquez, the same pitcher he faced back in that epic game, now wearing a Royals uniform, he popped up. However, after getting a pair of hits in Monday’s game, including a double, Crawford is batting .211 with the rest of his line looking like this: .268/.316/.584. Timing is everything, you know, as his failure to produce another key hit, did not detract from the 8-3 win over last season’s World Series opponent.
Joe Panik also added a double on Monday, to go with a single and an RBI to raise his spring average to .190, though the rest of his numbers look a little better because he has hit a pair of big flies: .261/.405/.666. Again, there is no pressure on Panik to do anything more than prepare for the season. The two home runs were more likely a product of the desert air than a realistic look at what kind of power he will produce this season, and that’s OK too.
The Giants batted around in the second inning off of Volquez, scoring four runs on five hits, which made Bruce Bochy relax just a bit. Crawford, Adam Duvall (triple), Juan Perez, Gregor Blanco (double) and Panik all had hits during the uprising. Along with the offensive firepower, though, was Jake Peavy’s five innings of three-run ball, during which he allowed seven hits. He walked one and struck out three and his ERA is at 6.75.
Aug 24, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; San Francisco Giants center fielder Gregor Blanco (7) is congratulated by Giants third base coach Tim Flannery (1) while rounding third base after hitting a home run against the Washington Nationals in the first inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Coming into the game, Peavy had flu-like symptoms, but still managed to capitalize on a suggestion by Buster Posey that he try a four-seam changeup, which seemed to have the desired effect, judging from the way Lorenzo Cain went after the last offering of the five-inning outing.
Old pitchers can’t get faster so they have to get smarter.
Peavy already had a two-seam changeup, but would like to expand what he is able to offer as he gets older. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?
Ryan Vogelsong will go for the Giants against the Cleveland Indians Tuesday night, at 7:05, as the schedule slowly starts to adjust to night play for when the regular season opens up in thirteen days. This veteran pitcher has the opportunity to play a key role this season, because of his willingness to either start, which does not seem likely at this point, or come out of the bullpen, a completely different role from that of his past experience with the Giants.
Vogelsong is trying to muffle concerns that he has lost that elusive knack of painting the corners with his pitches, instead, allowing the ball to frequently drift out over the plate with the resulting crack of the bat being deafening. His spring ERA is 5.84 but his WHIP is 1.22 and he has only walked four in twelve innings. Vogelsong is insurance for the long haul and like all insurance policies, is never more valued than when it is needed.
So the rotation has come around this past week and now the offense is perking up, as players get their work in and it all starts to come together for the opener in the desert. I like the pace and I like the attitude of the current team especially in light of Hunter Pence’s absence from the lineup.
After all, if they can play well enough without One Hunter Percent for a couple of weeks, his return will ratchet matters up a bit.
Would that work out OK for all of you?