Before he threw his no-hitter three weeks ago, San Francisco Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez had the label of a guy who had all the tools to be great but hadn’t put it all together into one complete package.
When he kept the big ole doughnut in the hit column against the Padres for 27 outs in his return from the bullpen, he had Disney executives scrambling for his cell phone number. The story book no-no with his dad watching him start as a professional for the first time was signed, sealed, and delivered.
But then it was back to reality time for Sanchez and his quest to prove he was not a no-hit wonder and establish some sort of consistency that he hadn’t over his time in the Giants rotation.
His first start coming off of the no-no and after the All-Star Break against the Braves was a good one. Take away a couple of mistakes and it would’ve been a great one.
However, it was back to the same ole Sanchez against the Rockies Saturday night as Troy Tulowitzki made the Giants lefty his personal punching bag.
His line against the Rocks was a typical one for Sanchez before the no-hitter—five innings, five hits, five earned runs, four walks, and five strikeouts. It was the fifth time in 16 starts that Sanchez had allowed five-or-more runs.
It’s also no coincidence that in each of those five starts, he has been tagged with a loss.
He has improved since he returned to the rotation—it is obvious to see that. But the problem with Sanchez in both of his starts in the second half is not only limiting the free gifts he hands out in the form of walks, but also limiting the long ball.
You limit the mistakes and you will limit the damage. You limit the damage and you will limit the runs. You limit the runs and you will put you and your team in a better situation to win the game.
Baseball is a simple, ain’t it? Well, maybe not that simple.
For all of his struggles in the first half, Sanchez had only allowed seven home runs in 13 starts. Now in his last two starts, Sanchez has given up three, two against the Braves and Tulowitzki’s three-run bomb at Coors Saturday.
With a struggling offense, having a big inning hit you is not exactly what the doctor ordered. But that is the Sanchez Giants followers have to know and love...err...scratch their head at.
It’s been good and it’s been not so good, but there are signs that things may be better than things appear.
His command against the Braves was fantastic—just one walk in six innings. While he did give up the home runs to Chipper Jones and Garret Anderson, he gave up just two other hits to go along with the one free pass and thus limited the self-inflicted scoring opportunities.
It wasn’t so good in Colorado on Saturday. Right before Tulowitzki teed off to left-center, Sanchez walked Garrett Adkins to set things up quite nicely with nobody out. He did strike out the next hitter, but then sent a fastball right down Broadway to Tulowitzki and we already know how that turned out.
Walks come back to kill you, and that is usually the case with Sanchez and clear sign that while he’s improving, there’s still a lot to improve on out there.
But with the Giants competing for the National League Wild Card and attempting to overcome their offensive shortcomings as of late, waiting for Sanchez to come around and live up to his potential
The Giants are at the point now where they don’t need Sanchez to pitch well so he boosts his trade value, they need him to pitch well because his role on the team is a bigger one than it was before July 10.
Randy Johnson’s health status is only one that the Unit really knows. The Giants training staff isn’t talking about what is going on with the 45-year-old’s arm.
Johnson could be back in a couple weeks, he could never throw a pitch in the orange and black. At this point we just don’t know.
So now the burden is on Sanchez to prove he can hang and show that the no-hitter against one of the worst offenses in the league was no fluke.
When he’s on, he’s on and close to double-digits in strikeouts. When he’s not, he’s not and usually the Giants lose the game.
As we’ve said many times before with this talented 26-year-old lefty, it’s just wait and see what happens.
Or maybe the Giants can just put Poppa Sanchez on the payroll. His visit seemed to work wonders last time, don’t you think?
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