Giants ready to make another playoff push
SAN FRANCISCO – Aubrey Huff is ready for the San Francisco Giants to start hitting consistently. If not, he realizes they could play themselves right out of the playoff race.
San Francisco sure showed signs of getting back on track during its recent 7-3 road trip to finish up a 47-41 first half. The Giants sit four games back of the NL West-leading San Diego Padres at the midpoint.
They scored 36 runs in sweeping a four-game series at Milwaukee last week, then took two of three from Washington. Right away they’ll get four games with the New York Mets, beginning Thursday night at AT&T Park.
“It’s that time of the year we need to hit,” Huff said. “The pieces are here. If we can figure out where they all fit we’ll start to roll. We’re starting to find the slots now and where everybody fits.”
San Francisco needs to play better in the season’s second half to keep up with San Diego and surging Colorado to stay in contention for the club’s first postseason berth since 2003. The Giants were in the NL wild card race until mid-September last year and everybody involved has high hopes for finally getting over the hump in 2010.
It would be a major disappointment for this club not to do so.
Manager Bruce Bochy and GM Brian Sabean had to exercise some patience early, waiting for key players like second baseman Freddy Sanchez, shortstop Edgar Renteria and center fielder Aaron Rowand to recover from injuries that required disabled list stints – and in Renteria’s case, two trips to the DL.
“Getting Freddy and Edgar back, they’re good players,” Bochy said. “It’s nice to have them back to add to the offense and give the offense a sense of confidence, too.”
Then there were the additions of 23-year-old catcher Buster Posey, the highly touted rookie called up in late May, and veteran Pat Burrell. Posey, the Giants’ No. 5 pick in the 2008 draft, is batting .350 with seven homer and 25 RBIs in his 38 games so far.
“I’m pretty pleased now,” Sabean said. “We have some semblance of a lineup. We have experience in the lineup and depth coming off the bench. You have to let it sort itself out and exercise some patience. We all did. Boch was good about knowing that.”
Free-swinging slugger Pablo Sandoval, among the last players left off the 2009 All-Star team, has struggled to a disappointing .263 batting average with only six homers and 34 RBIs. Not the kind of start the Kung Fu Panda was counting on last winter during his well-publicized offseason shapeup.
The Giants need more from their big guy in the second half.
“It’s surprising,” Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. “We know he doesn’t necessarily have a strike zone but that doesn’t keep him from being a menacing guy up there. It’s early.”
Perhaps it is, but players know that when they turn the corner into the second half the pressure is on.
Bochy stresses to his club the importance of winning series.
“That’s what it’s all about,” he said. “We’ve got to pick it up. San Diego’s playing well. The last thing you want to do is get too far behind.”
After the four games against the Mets, the Giants play 12 of their next 16 against the division with only one off day during that stretch.
“You don’t want to get seven or eight games out,” Huff said. “You want to stay afloat.”
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