Baseball gods, Longoria team to get Giants a win

By Art Spander

SAN FRANCISCO — This one goes to the baseball gods. And to Evan Longoria, who wouldn’t have been in the game if Pablo Sandoval, a switch hitter, hadn’t hurt his leg the day before and felt he couldn’t swing righthanded.

“Sometimes it works out,” Bruce Bochy, the Giants' manager agreed, “sometimes it doesn’t.”

In a convoluted sort of way it worked Monday night against the Dodgers, and for the Giants, who had lost three in a row, there could be nobody better against whom something would work.

It was Longoria, “Longo” as everyone calls him, who delivered what arguably was the biggest hit of the year and a month he’s been with the Giants, a bases-loaded double in the bottom of the seventh that scored all three runners and beat the Dodgers, 3-2.

“He needed that hit,” said Bochy. “We needed it.”

Let’s back up to the sixth inning, where the Dodgers scored their two runs in the top half — Cody Bellinger, naturally, drove in one, and his 37 RBI are the most before May in major league history.

In the bottom of the inning, Buster Posey doubled, and with Sandoval coming to the plate, the Dodgers brought in a new pitcher, Scott Alexander, a lefty, which wouldn’t have mattered it Pablo could swing righthanded comfortably.

But he couldn't, so Bochy pinch hit another righthanded batter, Longoria, who plays third base, as Sandoval has been doing in the game.

Longoria, struggling — he’s hitless in his previous 10 at bats — flied out to no one else but Bellinger, a.k.a. Superman. But at least Longo was in the game, and when he came up in the seventh he doubled off Dylan Florio.

Like that, the chants of “Dodgers, Dodgers,”  from what liberally might be called a crowd — only 32,212 fans at the place now called Oracle Park — were replaced by shouts of “Beat L.A.”

“I’ve been waiting for that hit in a Giants uniform,” said Longoria. “It’s been a year. It’s not for a lack of opportunity. I’ve been in situations. I was feeling good. I just haven’t been able to come through.”

Although he grew up in Southern California, Longoria had spent nine years with the Tampa Rays.

“Dodgers-Giants is a huge rivalry,” said Longoria, “but it’s new to me. It gives me chills when you’re out there and hear that kind of enthusiasm from the home crowd.”

Well, the temperature was in the high 50s and a Candlestick-type wind was blowing, but Longoria said that had nothing to do with the chills.

“I know my average is not good, but that doesn’t take away from my mentality in those situations. A bases-loaded double is cool.”

So, he said, is Sandoval starting at third, which is where Longoria normally is positioned.

“Pablo’s been swinging the bat good. I’m here to win. I’m ready off the bench. I’m happy to wait. I’m hitting .200 (actually .210). I can’t go into the office and ask why I’m not starting.”

What some of the media asked was why Bochy took out Giants starter Jeff Samardzija for a pinch hitter in the fifth inning of a 0-0 game. The manager had a quick response.

“We needed to score runs,” said Bochy.

They didn’t immediately, but Samardzija said he had no problem being pulled.

“After losing three in a row (to the Yankees) we needed to do anything to score runs. Another time I’ll go seven, eight innings. Anytime you win a close game, it’s awesome. It builds confidence.”

The Giants still are last in the National League West, hitting is poor and the pitching not what was expected — and now Derek Holland is on the injured list, Ty Blach having been called up from Sacramento.

“This is a game of momentum,” Samardzija said of baseball in general.

Whether the Giants have it is unclear, but they do have a victory over the Dodgers.

Something finally went right.


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