Phillies look to end skid vs. Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — With three National League second basemen currently hitting .300 or higher and two others having hit at least 10 home runs, it’s hard to imagine the Philadelphia PhilliesCesar Hernandez or the San Francisco GiantsJoe Panik making the All-Star team this season.

But the way their managers have been gushing over them this weekend, you’d be tempted to wonder why anybody else was being considered.

Panik scored the game’s only runs Saturday night when the Giants made it two straight over the Phillies with a 2-0 win, a game that might have gone in the Phillies’ direction if not for a great catch by San Francisco right fielder Andrew McCutchen on Hernandez.

Panik and Hernandez figure to be back atop their respective lineups when the Giants go for three straight against the Phillies on Sunday, with San Francisco right-hander Dereck Rodriguez dueling Philadelphia righty Jake Arrieta.

Panik, you might recall, was the guy who scripted a historic start to the season when his home runs accounted for the only scoring in 1-0 wins over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Giants’ first two games.

But the Giants’ leadoff man sprained his thumb so badly on April 27 that it required surgery, with San Francisco slumping to 14-17 in his absence.

Panik wasted little time getting back into the swing of things, reaching base four times, scoring once and driving in a run, in San Francisco’s 4-0 win over the Phillies in the series opener Friday.

He then followed that with a double and a single, after which he scored each time, in Saturday’s 2-0 win.

No doubt, Giants manager Bruce Bochy insisted Saturday, the Giants are a different team with Panik atop the lineup.

“Great baserunning twice,” Bochy said of another of Panik’s contributions to the 2-0 win. “It’s good to have Joe back. He’s been a shot in the arm the last two games.”

Hernandez, meanwhile, might have been the offensive difference-maker Saturday if either the AT&T Park outfield were constructed more traditionally, or if McCutchen hadn’t been playing right field.

Hernandez belted a 400-foot shot to right-center field with Jorge Alfaro aboard in the third inning, a ball that would have been a home run in most ballparks.

But in what’s known as “Triples Alley” at AT&T, an area where the fence juts out to 421 feet, McCutchen prevented one of those triples — and perhaps an inside-the-park home run for the speedy Hernandez — when he made a sensational, running-away-from-the-plate catch to keep the game scoreless.

A home run would have been the eighth already this season for Hernandez, who warrants consideration for a midseason trip to Washington, D.C., according to his manager, Gabe Kapler.

“He’s leading National League second basemen in on-base percentage, in stolen bases (10) and in walk percentage,” Kapler noted. “From a profile perspective and what he does for our club, those are some pretty important characteristics.”

Rodriguez (0-0, 2.70), the son of Ivan Rodriguez, will be making his first major league start. He has never faced the Phillies.

Arrieta (5-2, 2.16) will be making his sixth career start at AT&T Park, having gone 4-1 with a 2.23 ERA there.

He’s 5-2 with a 1.96 ERA in seven career starts against the Giants.