Giants fans couldn’t have asked for a better start.
The remaining members of the San Francisco-based Grateful Dead belted out the National Anthem in style, starter Tim Lincecum retired the Phillies in order in the first inning and the rain that settled over AT&T Park during pregame festivities was light and nonthreatening.
Then Andres Torres drew a walk against Phillies ace Roy Halladay in the bottom of the first inning, Freddy Sanchez followed with a single and Torres scored moments later when rookie catcher Buster Posey grounded into a fielder’s choice.
Lincecum came out in the top of the second and again established his dominance, striking out both Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth before inducing a groundout from Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins. “The Freak” has held opposing hitters to a .228/.301/.326 batting line in 123 career games at home and is looking awfully comfortable out there tonight.
Halladay, meanwhile, has already reached 43 pitches in two innings of work.
In a game that features two of baseball’s top pitchers, a 1-0 lead might mean big things. That’s exactly what the Giants have as this NLCS Game 5 moves to the third.
Pablo Sandoval could be tabbed to play second base in the near future, per a report from John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. According to Shea, Sandoval has been spotted taking grounders at second during pre-game warm-ups and may be considering switching to the keystone on a part-time basis.
It wouldn’t be the weirdest thing the 31-year-old corner infielder has done this year — that distinction goes to the flawless inning of relief he pitched in a blowout loss against the Dodgers last month. But it would represent a pretty notable departure from his comfort zone even so; Sandoval has primarily manned first and third base throughout his 11-year career in the majors and has also taken a few reps at DH during his resurgence with the Giants in 2018.
Of course, this wouldn’t necessarily be a permanent switch for Sandoval. As Shea points out, the Giants are thin on middle infielders after losing Joe Panik to a torn UCL in his left thumb and backup Alen Hanson to a left hamstring strain. Provided he can get up to speed quickly (no easy feat, according to infield coach Ron Wotus), he’d give the club some added depth behind Kelby Tomlinson and Miguel Gomez until Panik is ready to take the field again. Sandoval has impressed at the plate this spring, batting a healthy .270/.329/.429 with six extra-base hits and a .757 through 70 plate appearances.