Sure, the Giants bats came to life Thursday night in Miami, as bats are prone to do in a 14-7 win.
And so, a great pitching duel between Ryan Vogelsong and Anibal Sanchez gets lost in the shuffle of 28 total hits – an outcome that’s somewhat unconscionable considering the Giants and Marlins had four hits apiece after five innings.
But, the Giants certainly have seen enough pitchers’ duels in recent memory to let one go by the wayside for a two-touchdown night.
What’s absolutely unconscionable is Sanchez was on the hook for five earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. Giants hitters only really put one good lick on him, when Angel Pagan dug out a filthy cutter to single with the bases loaded and break a 1-1 tie.
Otherwise, San Francisco’s four-run outburst in the sixth was courtesy of a defensive meltdown by the Marlins. Greg Dobbs literally kicked a ball in left field to start the rally. Brett Hayes and Hanley Ramirez went Bad News Bears in failing to record a gimmie out on a rundown between third and home. And, the hit that knocked Sanchez out of the game was a broken-bat Texas Leaguer with some championship hang-time.
So, make no mistake, Sanchez was absolutely dealing. Nearly two months into the season, numbers don’t lie. It’s fitting the 28-year-old fireballer is currently tied with Matt Cain for fourth in the NL with 62 strikeouts, as Sanchez is threatening to dethrone Cain as the most prolific hard-luck pitcher in baseball. Despite Sanchez’s outstanding 2.87 ERA and .229 opponents’ batting average, he has a mere 2-3 record to show for it, picking up right where he left off last season when his 202 strikeouts culminated in an 8-9 record.
In this the inaugural season of the spacious new digs of Marlins Park, Miami is on the verge of finding itself in a precarious position. The Fish are soon to discover what West Coast baseball fans know all too well, that stud pitchers require stud defense, especially stud outfielders who can go get it.
Don’t get me wrong. On a night where Blanco, Pagan, and Melky Cabrera each had a multi-hit game, the Giants demonstrated a virtue of winning baseball in fielding outfielders who can swing it. But, just as crucial is the fact that this dynamo trio currently taking the Bay Area by storm consists of three stud defenders with game-changing, center-field range.
Had Anibal Sanchez been backed with that kind of defense Thursday night, he would have been virtually unhittable.