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8:22PM

Pence on winning hit: ‘Like a kid on Christmas morning’

By Art Spander

SAN FRANCISCO — He’s 35, and from some of his swings of late, hopeless rips at balls around his shoulders, and that sub-.200 batting average, Hunter Pence looked like a man whose career was coming to an end.

Which his critics, pounding on him via social media, said would be a good idea.

Sure, he had some great times with the Giants, but you have to deal with the present, don’t you? And Pence is of the past, right? Why send down Mac Williamson and keep Pence and his big contract?

Because he’s a leader. And it you listen to his teammates in the clubhouse — or watched them bounce from the dugout to swarm around Pence in the bottom of the 11th on Sunday at AT&T Park — he’s also a winner.

There were the Giants, down a run with one out and nobody on. As Pence said, “It happens real quick in baseball. You’ve got to be ready for anything.” Especially an unsuspected Giants comeback for a 3-2 win over the San Diego Padres that could be called the biggest of this season.

Andrew McCutchen doubled. Buster Posey, naturally, was walked intentionally — he’d already had a single and double — and, whoa, Brandon Crawford was hit by a pitch. Bases loaded, yes, but Pence, with a groundout and two strikeouts coming to the plate against Brad Hand, one of the game’s better closers.

“Getting an opportunity like that, bases loaded, one out, down a run,” Pence would say afterward, “it’s being a kid on Christmas morning for me. There’s a lot of responsibility, but that’s what you dream of.”

He bounced one just inside the first base line, McCutchen and Posey scored, Pence would get a double and the Giants would get the series win, three games to one.

First we learn Johnny Cueto is progressing in rehab, then we watch the Pence and the Giants perform a mini-miracle.

Ballplayers with the experience and residual success of Hunter Pence view things differently than most of us. They don’t think so much about what they haven’t done, the .193 batting average after coming back from the disabled list, but what can be done.

“I don’t really harp on that,” he said about statistics that have to be called negative. “I play to go win the game. Since I came back (he was out with a sprained thumb, then had to rehab), I got a chance to start. I’ve had better days. My pinch hitting is not as good as I want it to be. But I just want to be as prepared as I can.

“By the end of the year, the numbers will be what they will be.”

The numbers Sunday for Giants starter Dereck Rodriguez were interesting. He gave up a homer on a 3-2 pitch to the first man to step into the batter’s box at AT&T, Manuel Margot. Yikes, 1-0 instantly.

But that was it for a long while. Rodriguez — yes, son of Hall of Fame catcher Pudge Rodriguez — went six innings.

“That was a lot of fun,” said Dereck. “My curve ball was the best it’s been. I’d rather have the leadoff guy hit a home run and shut them down the rest of the way than have a guy hit one in the sixth inning.”

The win kept the Giants above .500 in the standings, and while that’s not quite what will win a title, it’s a psychological barrier they must surpass. It makes them winners, in fact as well as in mind, and with a ton of home games coming up they might become a presence.

“We had to find a way to win that game,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. “You want to stay away from the strikeout. When you put a ball in play, good things happen.”

The Giants have a rare and necessary day off on Monday. Bochy probably will go fishing. 

Pence may just reflect.

“I’m not going to get super-down on myself,” said Pence. “It’s a team game. You want to do your best for the team and the city. I focus on being a good person, and the rest will take care of itself.”

It definitely did on Sunday.

9:22AM

S.F. Examiner: Giants find positives in gloomy result

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

Looking for positives? Well, Wednesday was the 84th birthday of Willie Mays. He didn’t appear at AT&T Park, however. Neither did the Giants’ fine pitching.

“It was an off day for us,” manager Bruce Bochy said.

Read the full story here.

© 2015 The San Francisco Examiner

9:24AM

S.F. Examiner: Vogelsong the latest zero hero

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

He was the question mark, the pitcher who had everyone wondering or even doubting. Ryan Vogelsong hadn’t won a game this year, hadn’t looked very good. But on a chilly night at AT&T Park, it all changed.

Vogelsong, who gave up six runs a week ago to the Los Angeles Dodgers, didn’t give up a single run to the San Diego Padres in this one.

Read the full story here.

© 2015 The San Francisco Examiner

8:18AM

SF Examiner: Giants thriving in September baseball

By Art Spander
Special to The Examiner


Is this splendid torture or what? Three and a half weeks to go, and Tim Lincecum has found it once more. Three and a half weeks to go, and the San Diego Padres no longer seem invincible. Three and half weeks to go, and the Giants are very much in the race.


Read the full story here.

Copyright 2010 SF Newspaper Company