Giants & A’s

Matt Kawahara, Bay Area baseball beat writer

Sanchez suffers concussion in Giants’ 8-1 loss to Dodgers

07/26/2014 12:17 AM

07/26/2014 12:18 AM

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants are already playing without their starting center fielder, first baseman, workhorse starting pitcher in Matt Cain and on Friday added two infielders to their ever-expanding disabled list in Marco Scutaro and Ehire Adrianza.

Now it looks like they’ll also be without catcher Hector Sanchez for the near future, after Sanchez left Friday night’s 8-1 loss to the Dodgers after taking a foul tip to the mask in the third inning and was diagnosed with a mild concussion.

"He’s going to miss some time," manager Bruce Bochy said. "I’ll get with (general manager Brian Sabean) once I’m done here, talk about what we’re going to do. But it’s been confirmed and how long I can’t say, but he’s got a mild concussion."

Sanchez, who has been a virtual magnet for foul balls during his career and earlier this season admitted his concern over the number he has taken to the head, was struck on the mask by an Adrian Gonzalez foul in the third. He staggered backward and received a lengthy visit from a team trainer and Bochy before initially remaining in the game.

Sanchez batted in the bottom of the inning but struck out and clearly didn’t look right. TV cameras showed him talking with a trainer in the dugout and ultimately heading into the clubhouse, with Buster Posey replacing him behind the plate in the top of the fourth.

After a particularly bad foul tip to the mask in May, Sanchez said he had been diagnosed with two concussions previously in his career and wears a hockey-style mask for added protection. He said he has worked on being "smaller" behind the plate, but for whatever reason has been a constant target for foul balls. "Almost all my hits are in the head," he added. "I have to try to do something."

Bochy did not elaborate on potential moves, but certainly made it sound like Sanchez is headed for the disabled list. The Giants have three catchers currently at Triple-A Fresno, including Guillermo Quiroz, who was with them much of last season and has familiarity with most of the pitching staff. But highly regarded prospect Andrew Susac is also there, batting .264 with 10 home runs in 62 games.

With Sanchez exiting early Friday, it led to Posey catching Lincecum for the first time since April 26 against Cleveland. Lincecum wound up having his worst outing in nearly two months -- 4 1/3 innings, nine hits, six runs -- with much of the damage coming in a five-run fifth, but he said the catcher switch wasn’t a factor.

Still, Lincecum said the main issue in the fifth was that he "went away from my pitch plan a little bit, started trying to overpower guys with fastballs and left some up in the zone." He said he threw fewer breaking balls and sliders, which "have been kind of the equalizer for me in keeping guys honest as hitters, making that 89 mph fastball look a little bit faster."

"We went over (the pitch plan) in between innings to make sure we were on the same page," Lincecum said of Posey taking over at catcher. "So that was my fault. I should’ve shook more."

* The Dodgers hit three triples in the fifth inning -- one each from Dee Gordon, Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp -- en route to tying their franchise record with five in the game. Puig accounted for three, becoming the first player to hit three triples in a game since Denard Span in 2010, the first N.L. player to do it since Rafael Furcal in 2002, and the first Dodger since Jimmy Sheckard -- in 1901.

It was quite a night for Puig, who also doubled off Lincecum, flew out to the warning track in the eighth to finish 4-for-5 and made a running catch in deep center to take away extra bases from Posey in the ninth. Puig scored the Dodgers’ first run in the first inning after hitting a one-out triple to center, which he paused to admire before sprinting out of the box and making it into third standing up.

"He had a good night," Bochy said. "We made some mistakes, and good hitters take advantage of them."

Puig scored in the first inning on Adrian Gonzalez’s line-drive single to right -- but it was debatable whether Puig should have been on third base in the first place. It appeared that a fan reached over the center-field wall on his triple and touched the ball, which bounced back into the field of play, and Dodgers manager Don Mattingly actually challenged that the call should have been a home run.

After review, umpires ruled the call stood and ordered Puig to stay at third. But Bochy then came out to argue that if the fan had interfered, and Puig was not awarded a home run, he should be at second base with a ground-rule double. Bochy said he was trying to have the play reviewed again, but was rebuffed.

"If it hits a fan, the ball gets redirected, I don’t know how the guy gets a triple," Bochy said. "It’s not like shot out of the box, either.

"They said from New York the play stands, the runner stays at third, there’s not much you can do. Now I’m arguing with the wrong crew. But I don’t agree with it. I think it’s the wrong call."

Puig may still have scored from second on Gonzalez’s single, but there would have been at least the likelihood of a play at the plate. As it stands, Puig set career highs Friday with four extra-base hits (he also doubled off Lincecum in the third) and 11 total bases, and is the first Dodger with that many total bases against the Giants since Kevin Elster had 12 while hitting three home runs on April 11, 2000 -- the first game at AT&T Park.

* Dodgers starter Zack Greinke started the five-run fifth with a broken-bat single off of Lincecum. Greinke had a good night on the mound, too, throwing seven scoreless innings and striking out 10, reaching double digits for the fourth time this season.

Four of Greinke’s strikeouts came in the third inning. With two outs, Hunter Pence struck out swinging at a pitch in the dirt, but the ball got past catcher A.J. Ellis to the backstop and Pence ran to first base without a throw. Greinke then got Gregor Blanco swinging on another pitch in the dirt to end the inning.

According to the Giants’ post-game notes, Greinke is the first Dodgers pitcher with four strikeouts in an inning since Brad Penny on Sept. 23, 2006, and the first major-leaguer to do it this season. It’s also the fourth time in Giants franchise history that they struck out four times in one inning.

In all, the Giants scratched just four singles against Greinke and put multiple runners on base in one inning. "I think we’ve gotten one run off the last three starters, so that’s got to pick up," Bochy said. "You’re just hoping your guy’s on, and Timmy was until that fifth inning. The big inning killed us."

* Bochy said he didn’t think Lincecum altering his between-starts routine by pitching in relief in Philadelphia had any effect on his outing tonight. The relief outing -- in which Lincecum earned his first career save -- came on the day he’d normally throw a bullpen session, and he threw a similar number of pitches, albeit in a more intense setting.

"I don’t think so. I mean, the first four innings he was really good," Bochy said. "He was hitting his spots really well there (after the first inning).

"You never know. Unfortunately in our game occasionally you have to throw a pitcher out of his routine, whether move him up a start, skip him a start, things like that. But I liked the way he was throwing the ball ‘til the fifth. He just started getting the ball up."

* The Giants spared themselves a shutout in the ninth, loading the bases against reliever Paul Maholm and scoring on Tyler Colvin’s two-out single. It doesn’t get any easier for the lineup from here, with left-handers Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu pitching the second and third games of the series, respectively.

* Dan Uggla, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Fresno on Friday, was 0-for-2 in his Giants debut at second base before being replaced by Tony Abreu in a double-switch in the fifth. Bochy said before the game that Uggla will be the everyday second baseman for now, with Abreu hopefully providing offense off the bench, particularly as a left-handed hitter.

* Don Mattingly reportedly lined up his rotation out of the All-Star Break with this series in mind, while Bochy and the Giants chose to take a bigger-picture view. So the matchup in game two is Kershaw (11-2, 1.92) against Ryan Vogelsong (5-7, 3.99). First pitch is at 6:05 p.m.

About This Blog

Matt Kawahara has covered baseball for The Sacramento Bee for three years. Kawahara, a McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley graduate, joined The Bee in 2010. Before joining Sports, he was a general assignment news reporter. Reach Kawahara at mkawahara@sacbee.com. Twitter: @matthewkawahara.

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