It was a surprise to Pablo Sandoval that he had splashed a solo home run into McCovey Cove on the 50th anniversary of Hall of Famer Willie McCovey’s debut with the Giants.
That made his drive in San Francisco’s 7-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday night even more special. McCovey is a regular visitor in the Giants‘ clubhouse and he and Sandoval often speak.
“It’s special right now. I hit McCovey Cove and McCovey’s here,” Sandoval said, noting he had seen the former first baseman earlier. “He talks to me every time he’s in the clubhouse.”
Jonathan Sanchez (4-9) struck out seven in 5 2-3 innings in the left-hander’s first home start since throwing the team’s first no-hitter in 33 years on July 10 against San Diego. Sandoval also hit a two-run double and Eugenio Velez had a career-high three hits and drove in three runs in San Francisco’s fourth straight win.
Next up Friday is the highly anticipated Phillies debut of reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee, acquired along with outfielder Ben Francisco from Cleveland on Wednesday.
New Giants first baseman Ryan Garko was a teammate of Lee’s until being traded to the Giants on Monday. San Francisco sought his insight during a meeting Thursday.
“He won the Cy Young for a reason,” Garko said. “I didn’t really want to tell them what I’ve been seeing. He’s been tough. He’s going to be one of the best you face.”
Francisco started in center field as All-Star Shane Victorino rested his bruised left knee that forced him to leave Wednesday’s 4-0 loss at Arizona in the seventh inning.
Ryan Howard doubled in a run in the first that put the Phillies ahead, but they did little else against Sanchez until Chase Utley‘s leadoff homer in the sixth.
Both benches were warned after former Giants pitcher Tyler Walker hit Garko in the left shoulder in the seventh. That came after Sanchez sailed a pitch over Utley’s head in the sixth before his homer.
“I didn’t try to hit him,” Sanchez said. “I have nothing against him. It was supposed to be away and got out of my hand.”
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel didn’t think Sanchez tried to get Utley.
“The score was 7-1. I don’t know why he would be trying to hit him,” Manuel said. “I give him the benefit of the doubt.”
Garko said he didn’t think Walker threw at him intentionally either. While he was a little bit sore, Garko wasn’t concerned.
All four Giants‘ runs in the fourth were unearned after third baseman and former Giant Pedro Feliz made a wild throw to second for an error on Juan Uribe‘s grounder.
Sanchez left to a roaring standing ovation when replaced by Justin Miller following a two-out walk to Raul Ibanez in the sixth. Francisco followed with his first hit with the Phillies, a double. It was the first decision for Sanchez in six career appearances against Philadelphia.
Phillies starter Rodrigo Lopez (3-1) was tagged for eight hits in four innings but only three of his seven runs were earned. Philadelphia had won all four of his previous outings this year.
Sandoval’s home run to the water marked the 49th time it’s been done by the Giants and the second this year. Home run king and ex-San Francisco slugger Barry Bonds hit 35 splash-hit homers here. Andres Torres had the other one this season, on June 15 against the Los Angeles Angels.
Torres left this game after the second with a strained left hamstring. He was to be re-evaluated Friday and have an MRI.
Newly acquired All-Star second baseman Freddy Sanchez, who came over from Pittsburgh on Wednesday when they were in town, could make his Giants debut sometime this weekend after his inflamed left knee calms down. He’s not officially on the roster as the Giants had 72 hours to add him.
Garko is 1-for-10 since joining his new team. … Phillies RHP Pedro Martinez, on the DL with a shoulder strain, will make a rehab start for Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Friday night. He will be on a pitch count of about 70-80. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said there’s no plan to bring Martinez back as a reliever. “That’s not something we’ve discussed with him,” he said. … Phillies reliever J.C. Romero (forearm) is scheduled to throw off a mound Sunday. Clay Condrey, another injured reliever on the DL, won’t begin long toss for another five or six days as he recovers from a strained side muscle. “We’re going to be real cautious with him,” Amaro said. … Giants OF Randy Winn was a late arrival at the ballpark following the death of his father-in-law. He replaced Torres in CF in the top of the third. … San Francisco CF Aaron Rowand, nursing a forearm injury, played catch from 120 feet and “felt much better,” according to manager Bruce Bochy. … Walker, the former Cal guy, plunked Garko, the former Stanford guy.