Be Patient with Giants' Jonathan Sanchez As He Learns to Fight Through
Sanchez left the game with the Rockies still on top 1-0, with runners on first and third, with one out in the fifth inning.
It's going to require a more patience than what fans and, perhaps, the Giants are showing in order for the hard-throwing left-hander Sanchez to truly emerge as a consistently solid starting pitcher.
It's just a hunch. No second-guessing Bruce Bochy. More of an amateur psychologist's view of not repeating the same treatment for the same guy who consistently runs into the same problem.
Just wondering if taking a sideways look at Sanchez might result in giving him credit for strides he's made and, maybe, agreeing that he's got such electric stuff that ... we can learn to stick with him just a little longer.
Sanchez got the hook down by a single run, while the Giants were being no-hit by Jhoulys Chacin...in the top of the fifth inning on Sunday. Sanchez had thrown 94 pitches.
Imagine if Bochy hooked Tim Lincecum in a similar situation — down a run in the fifth after throwing 94 pitches. Instead of walks, imagine that Lincecum had given up bouncers for basehits.
The game is certainly a great deal more relaxing when Lincecum or someone like him is pounding the strike zone and keeping the Giants in the game. However, it might be worth exercising a little more patience with Sanchez because—he isn't Lincecum, but he has all the tools to be one nasty left-hander.
Sanchez goes from unhittable to unable to find the strike zone in the blink of an eye. In 2009, he blew up and let a scoreless tie turn into a 3-0 deficit—because he got wild. He'd groove a fastball in a desperate attempt to throw a strike and, most times, 3-0 became 6-0.
In his outing before Sunday's start, he struggled through a tough fifth inning, got the hook and got a win. On Sunday, he was removed after walking two hitters in the fifth. The Rockies blew the game open against Brandon Medders and won 4-1
Instead of remembering the throbbing headache fans feel watching Sanchez feel for the strike zone, consider the lefty's downfall on Sunday.
Sanchez recorded two quick outs in the fourth on Sunday. Then, he hit Jason Giambi with a pitch.
Then, he walked the bases loaded. Fans stirred. Announcers' voices hinted at disgust.
Sanchez walked in a run with Medders up in the bullpen.
Admit it, the Giants and all their fans wanted Sanchez out of the game. Right?
By the time Chacin finally flied out to end the inning, the Rockies led...1-0.
It's gut-wrenching to watch Sanchez lose the strike zone in the middle of what seems to be a fine outing. That hasn't changed from 2009.
This season, though, Sanchez has minimized the damage and shown he's at least learning to avoid the complete meltdown that ended innings like Sunday's fourth for him in 2009.
That painful fourth that left the Giants fidgeting in the dugout and that prompted boos from corners of AT&T Park resulted in the same number of runs that Lincecum or Matt Cain would've yielded on, say, a single, a walk, a sacrifice bunt, and a sacrifice fly out.
A 1-0 lead is a 1-0 lead. It doesn't matter how the other team scores the run. So, maybe don't be so quick to call for Medders just to get Sanchez off of the field. Maybe?
Regardless of how well Sanchez had pitched Sunday, he could've done no better than enter the bottom of the fifth inning tied. The Giants didn't get him a hit, let alone a run.
Granted, Sanchez walked two more batters in a row after getting an out to start the fifth. But, he's making it clearer with every outing that he's a better bet without good location than Medders and some others are with middle-inning relief type stuff.
Medders came in and gave up back-to-back hits. The Rockies grabbed a 4-0 lead.
Sanchez has the masterful stuff that comes and goes. Someday, the Giants hope, it comes and stays for six or seven seasons. He doesn't know what happens when he goes from wildly dominant to plain old wild. So, maybe give the guy a chance to right himself when the Giants are being no-hit?
As things stand right now, the Giants and their fans are in for three pretty relaxing games in every five. Heck, they skipped the No. 5 starter's spot, so they'll get Lincecum, Cain and Barry Zito one game earlier when the road trip begins in Florida. The bullpen's underworked to the point the club sent reliever Waldis Joaquin down to make room for Aaron Rowand coming off of the disabled list.
As hard as it is to sit through an inning where Jonathan Sanchez loses the strike zone, it might be that the Giants and their fans learn to sit through them. For all his struggles on Sunday, he only trailed 1-0 through 4 1/3.
The Giants and fans must learn to let Sanchez have time, given the score and the inning, to learn to work out of the trouble he causes for himself. He certainly has the stuff to minimize the damage.
If Sanchez keeps looking over his shoulder at the bullpen with runners on in a scoreless game, in the fourth or fifth inning, he'll never develop into the pitcher that his stuff indicates he could become. The Giants have the talent at the top of the rotation to let Sanchez struggle through and, perhaps, learn to avoid those nightmare innings altogether.
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