Giants notebook: Jonathan Sanchez continues to mature

PHILADELPHIA — Jonathan Sanchez began an unusual ritual when
Giants manager Bruce Bochy asked him
to hand over the baseball in the
Giants’ NL West clinching victory on
Oct. 3.

The left-hander stayed on the mound until his replacement
arrived, then delivered some fighting words of encouragement. He
did it again in Game 3 of the NL Division Series at Atlanta.

“We got this,” Sanchez said. “Let’s go. We’ll get this

There were times Sanchez appeared to lack motivation as a young,
inconsistent pitcher. Now he’s the one firing up the staff, and the

Giants signaled their confidence in
him by moving him up to pitch Game 2 today against the Phillies’
Roy Oswalt.

“This kid’s matured and showed so much better composure and
poise on the mound,” Bochy said. “At times he’s been his own worst
enemy. It looks like he’s gotten over that, and he’s pitching with
a lot of confidence, and that’s why we have him going.”

One key for Sanchez is to contain leadoff man Shane Victorino,
who is 6 for 15 against him and a threat to run. Nobody else in
their lineup has strong numbers against Sanchez; Jimmy Rollins and
Jayson Werth are a combined 1 for 28 with 10 strikeouts.

Assuming Sanchez doesn’t pitch a complete game, he plans to
deliver another pep talk when a reliever replaces him — even if
his encouragement didn’t work out last time. He departed with a 1-0
lead at Atlanta in Game 3 of the NLDS, but Sergio Romo served up a
two-run homer to Eric Hinske.

“It was too loud there,” Sanchez said, smiling. “I don’t think
he heard me.”

Oswalt is 1-3 with a 3.33 ERA in four starts this season against
Giants, but all three losses came
when he was with the Houston Astros, and Tim Lincecum outdueled
him. The offensively challenged Astros scored just four runs in
those three games.

Former All-Star outfielder and Phillies TV analyst Gary Matthews
can’t bring himself to root for the
Giants. But he’s definitely pulling
for Buster Posey to win Rookie of the Year.

Matthews is well aware that he’s the last
Giants position player to win the
award, in 1973. He also knows it’s one of the game’s most
impressive fraternities. The others are Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda
and Willie McCovey.

“I have a lot of pride to be in that club,” said Matthews, who
plans to have Posey sign a baseball for him. “Especially back in
those days, to be a
Giants outfielder, you knew you
were part of such a great tradition.”

Matthews considers Posey very worthy of joining the club.

“I like the way he hits. I like his demeanor,” Matthews said.
“He looks mean up there, and he covers the plate. You don’t see
many rookies hit to right-center field like he can. And he hits
with two outs, too.

“I know (Atlanta outfielder Jason) Heyward had a great year, but
I’m pulling for us to take the series and him to win Rookie of the

Bochy said it was a “tough call” to start Mike Fontenot at third
base but added that there was a chance Pablo Sandoval could start
“at least one or two games in this series,” possibly as early as
today against Oswalt.

“We know he’s a dangerous hitter, and he can do some damage,”
Bochy said of Sandoval.

Bochy and his coaches discussed adding left-hander Dan Runzler
or Barry Zito, perhaps even moving to a 12-man pitching staff. But
he elected to turn in the same roster he used in the NLDS.

Bochy lauded Zito’s professionalism and said it wasn’t easy to
tell him he was off the roster.

“He’s been great about it,” Bochy said. “He’s a stand-up guy. He
was honest, saying, you know, ‘I haven’t pitched as well.’ That’s
what it came down to.”

Is disgruntled outfielder Jose Guillen still part of the

“Best I can tell you, he’s available if something happened,”
Bochy said. “If we had to make a change and we wanted him, he would
be available.”

Perhaps a good omen for the
Giants: Announcer Dave Flemming
aced a par-3 Saturday morning at nearby Merion Golf Club.

For more on the
Giants, see Andrew Baggarly’s Extra
Baggs blog at . Email .