First, the bad news: Pablo Sandoval is out with a fractured hamate bone (the left one, not the right--which he fractured last year). The Giants are hacking away with runners in scoring position. And the team seems to have inculcated a culture of free swinging, which might sound like fun, but really means that they are swinging at junk outside of the strike zone. Oh, and they were swept by the Marlins.
We'll get over the Marlins in time, and the might even pretend that the RISP problems are a fluke. But Sandoval is going to be out for four to six weeks--which means there's going to be plenty of time for the blogosphere to second guess Bruce Bochy's choices for the starting lineups.
I'm just going to do it in advance: play Gregor Blanco and Brandon Belt. We know that Bochy likes Schierholtz, and that he seems to think that Belt is always batting .225. But winning games with Sandoval is going to require not giving up outs, sometimes in ways that aren't as aesthetically pleasing as a three run home run. And Aubrey Huff hit a few of those over the last few years, and that's what will get him back in the line up, and then everybody starts getting shuffled around, and next thing you know...#FreeBelt.
So don't forget that:
El Tiburon Blanco is currently posting a GIF-worthy lead-off slash-line of .300/.405/.433.
And Brandon Belt has, despite the "hole in his swing," a .292/.370/.396 line. We all know Team Pill is questioning that slugging percentage (since Pill's is .481), but, without psychologizing this too much, Belt's probably hitting for average at the moment, since that seems to be the way that a player gets out of the on-the-bench/off-the-bench roller coaster. Here's Bochy's take, which does psychologize the issue:
“(Batting average) is still a big number and it’s how a lot of hitters evaluate themselves,” Bochy said. “It comes down to scoring runs and knocking in runs, but that is how a lot of hitters get their confidence.”
Finally, the good news: Buster Posey is here, and he's hitting .325/.381/.545. The case of Freddy Sanchez should remind us that a healthy and hard-hitting Posey was not a given going into the season.
We'll conclude with that promised preview of the Brewers. In the post-Fielder age, they've started the season 11-14. The pitching--Zack Greinke, Randy Wolf, and Shawn Marcum--should be tough for a team that made the Marlins' rotation look like a pack (a school?) of Cy Young award winners. The Giants will need to take advantage of Ryan Braun's day-to-day status, and we should be glad that Mat Gamel (out for the season due to a torn ACL) won't be available to blow up catchers on close plays at the plate.
In the best case scenario, the Giants will end this series over/at .500, right before taking on the Diamondbacks and knocking a few games off the Dodgers' division lead.