Posted August 13, 2012 on
AP on Fox
Striving to hold their respective division leads, the San Francisco Giants and Washington Nationals can both use any wins they can get.
The Giants might get a boost Monday with All-Star third baseman Pablo Sandoval set to come off the disabled list before the opener of a three-game set against the visiting Nationals.
San Francisco (63-52) heads into this series holding a one-game lead over Los Angeles in the NL West, while Washington (71-44) has a bigger cushion of 4 1/2 games over Atlanta atop the East.
The Giants maintained their slim advantage over the weekend with consecutive wins thanks to strong performances at the plate. After recording 13 hits in a 9-3 win over Colorado on Saturday, the Giants had 14 while rallying for a 9-6 victory in the series finale.
Hunter Pence hit a go-ahead three-run homer - his first long ball in 12 games with San Francisco - in Sunday's eighth inning, and Melky Cabrera also drove in three runs. Pence had gone 7 for 47 (.149) in his first 11 games for the Giants.
"He's been working hard and it was nice to see him come through," catcher Buster Posey said.
San Francisco is hoping Sandoval can provide some heroics after his return from a strained left hamstring. He also missed more than a month earlier this season after breaking a bone in his left wrist.
Manager Bruce Bochy is looking forward to having Sandoval back in the fold.
"It's nice to have the versatility where you can move guys around," Bochy told the Giants' official website. "I think that'll play a major role down the stretch here. If somebody gets a little nicked up or is not seeing the ball well, it's nice to have this depth."
Sandoval and the Giants will have a difficult matchup against the Nationals, who swept a three-game home series versus San Francisco from July 3-5. The Giants will face Washington's wins leader Gio Gonzalez (14-6, 3.32 ERA) on Monday.
Gonzalez is coming off a complete-game win at Houston on Wednesday in which he gave up three runs and struck out seven.
That victory was part of an eight-game Nationals winning streak that ended with a 7-4 loss at Arizona on Sunday.
"We are going to lose just like everyone else loses," third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "We won the series and go to San Francisco and try to win that series, then enjoy a day off finally after a month of playing baseball. If we finish this road trip up strong, it will be a great road trip."
The Nationals, who have lost nine of 12 in San Francisco, will face Ryan Vogelsong (10-5, 2.27), who has given up more than three runs only once in his last 18 starts.
He managed to win that outing - a 16-4 rout of Colorado on Aug. 3 - and returned to top form Wednesday by allowing three hits over seven innings of a 15-0 drubbing of St. Louis.
While Vogelsong will make his first start against the Nationals, Gonzalez is set to renew a former rivalry. The left-hander faced the Giants annually in interleague play for Oakland before signing with Washington in January.
Gonzalez is 1-2 with a 3.42 ERA in four career starts against San Francisco.
BEST OF MAXIM
Fast-forward to the eighth inning. Buster Posey is up. The bases are loaded, with one out. The Giants are down by one run. The game is essentially in Posey’s hands. The leverage index (LI) of the situation is 7.59, the second-highest it’s been for any Giants batter at any point this season. And Rafael Betancourt, who has held right-handed hitters to a .196 wOBA this season, is...
MASN's F.P. Santangelo sat down with Strasburg, Gio, and Zimmermann in a segment that aired before last night's Nats-Giants game. All smiles. Video here. Go ahead, watch this thing; we dare you to try watch this without smiling. Here's the part about approaching Stras on the day he's pitching:
Zimmermann: When Stras is pitching, like to stay away...Gio: Bring...
The race for the Most Valuable Player is a lot like a singing contest. It doesn't really matter much how the song starts, but how it finishes. And while most agree that if the season were to end right now, a certain Mr. McCutchen of the Pirates would probably get the nod. The season is not over yet. With a little more than a month and a half to go, Buster Posey has more than...
During Friday's Rockies/Giants game in San Francisco, a rather memorable visitor appeared in McCovey Cove:
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That's right. A Delorean hovercraft was out making waves during Tim Lincecum's start Friday night. Let's just say fans at the game that night aren't going to forget it anytime soon.
Monday afternoon, these tweets showed...
Either James Bond or Marty McFly was navigating through McCovey Cove outside at AT&T Park in San Francisco on Friday.
Various scenarios have been mentioned regarding the Washington Nationals' plan to limit Stephen Strasburg's work load this season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in September 2010. It appears that now, according to MLB.com, that Strasburg will miss two or three starts at the end of the season based on the team's plan. Strasburg has thrown 133 1/3 innings this...
Hunter Pence hit a three-run homer during a five-run rally in the eighth inning that lifted the San Francisco Giants over the Colorado Rockies 9-6 on Sunday.
Buster Posey's sacrifice fly in the eighth tied it. Melky Cabrera, who had an RBI single in the comeback, drove in three runs.
Brandon Belt doubled twice and went 4 for 4 for the Giants.
Matt Belisle (3-4) took the loss...
(Up above: Nats dugout salutes Kurt Suzuki after his 3rd inning double made it an 8-0 game. Screencap via MASN/MLB.com)
"It’s going to be hard to turn that music down. The boys are in a good mood tonight. Just like the skipper." (Davey Johnson, via Washington Post, 8/14/2012)
Nationals 14, Giants 2: Two touchdowns, 20 hits, and Gio earns his 15th win the...
Nats players understand Strasburg’s shutdown, aren’t happy about it. [WaPo]
Nats fans don’t seem the least upset about Stras’ innings limit. [Nats Blog]
But what do Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless think about it?!?1?! [Bog]
The Nats pounded the Giants, Vogelsong 14-2 in San Francisco. [WaPo]
Jayson Werth is getting an MRI on his ankle today. [Nats Journal]
Many thanks to workhorse Nats beat writer Adam Kilgore for most of these, and Mark Zuckerman for the rest:
1. The Nats tied their largest margin of victory “since baseball returned to Washington” (12).
2. The Nats now have MLB’s best run differential (108) to go along with MLB’s best record (72-44).
3. The Nats doubled the most runs allowed by Ryan Vogelson this season (eight...
BASEBALL HEADLINES FROM NEWSPAPERS ACROSS THE NATIONWASHINGTON NATIONALS OWNERSHIP DECIDES TO SHUT DOWN GM MIKE RIZZO FOR THE YEAR“We Feel Mike Has Pitched a Large Number of Deals for the Nationals in 2012 and We Need to Insure He Will be Rested and Ready for the 2013 Season,” Stated Nats Chief Operating Officer Andrew Feffer.SF GIANTS NOW CLAIM TERRITORIAL RIGHTS EXTEND INTO...
As of this writing, the Washington Nationals have the best record in baseball, and are the only team in the Major Leagues to reach the 70-win plateau. The squad is 4.5 games up on the Atlanta Braves, and Baseball Prospectus is predicting that there is over a 97% chance that the Nats will make the playoffs for the very first time in their history. Baseball fans in Washington D.C...