Giants manager Bruce Bochy said there wasn’t much thought after all about moving Gregor Blanco down in the lineup for Tuesday night’s NLDS Game 4 against the Washington Nationals.
The Nationals are starting a left-hander in Gio Gonzalez, and Blanco is 1-for-14 in the leadoff spot in this series. But Bochy threw his confidence behind Blanco, pointing out the Giants won in Pittsburgh and Washington with Blanco batting first, and adding that he prefers to have Hunter Pence hitting in the middle of the order.
“It’s about staying behind the guy, too,” Bochy said. “You lose one game, it’s not time to start changing everything.”
Blanco has said that when he has filled in for regular leadoff man Angel Pagan that he put pressure on himself to replace Pagan’s production and slumped as a result. In his current skid, Blanco said, “I’m not trying to put pressure on myself, but the pressure’s always going to be there, and I just need to let it go and be calm, see the ball more and just try to have a better approach.”
Blanco said he thinks he isn’t being patient enough and that he needs to “focus on trying to hit line drives and the small game instead of trying to hit doubles.” He said that Bochy approached him during batting practice and told him simply, “You are the guy” when it comes to the leadoff spot.
“That’s awesome, man, having a manager like that who always supports you,” Blanco said. “He knows this is a team and not everybody’s going to be 4-for-4. But at the same time, my role is to get on base, and I haven’t been able to do it. So hopefully tonight that changes.”
Hunter Pence was in the interview room this afternoon and was asked about potentially giving Blanco a pep talk to snap him out of his slump. Pence said he hadn’t yet, but he recalled a time last season when Pence was slumping and Blanco did that for him.
“He said, ‘You don’t look like you’re having fun, and I know that you love this game more than anyone,’ ” Pence said. “He helped me as well, and hopefully, I’ll go say something to him today.”
Here’s the full Giants lineup against Gonzalez:
And the Nationals’ lineup against Ryan Vogelsong:
• Just a couple of tweaks in that Giants lineup. Perez gets his first start of the series against the left-hander after Travis Ishikawa had started the first three games in left field. Also, Pence moves up to the cleanup spot and Pablo Sandoval drops to fifth.
• Bochy was asked if Jake Peavy could potentially be used tonight and said of his pitchers: “They are all available.” It would probably take something wild – an 18-inning game, for example – for Peavy to get into the game, but Bochy left the possibility open.
“We’ll do all we can to try to win the game,” Bochy said. “But you have to be smart about it, to make sure you have a pitcher ready for Game 5.”
• Nationals manager Matt Williams said he’ll take a similar all-hands-on-deck approach to Tuesday night’s game, and thus has not named his Game 5 starter either. It would likely be right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, who allowed one run in 8 2/3 innings in Game 2, as Williams said it would take “an extreme emergency” for him to use Zimmermann.
• Pence used the word “ephemeral” during his media session. A reporter asked if the Giants having experience in the playoffs helps them this time around. Pence’s answer:
“Experience is kind of an ephemeral thing. I think I said that word right. I’m not sure. There’s a confidence in knowing you’ve done it before, understanding of the emotions and the adrenaline. And beyond that, it’s about getting it done on the field.
“If experience won series, then the same team would win every year because they have the experience of winning it. And that’s not the case, as history shows. But there is definitely knowledge and wisdom gained from that. We just have to get out and play the game and win.”
• Another Pence gem, when he was asked about the high number of homegrown players on the team’s current playoff roster: “Sometimes when I see (general manager Brian) Sabean, I (tell) him, ‘You’re one special guy. You’re going to have to teach me this one day.’ He’s done some amazing things.”
• If you missed it,today’s story on Ryan Vogelsong
getting another start at AT&T Park after leaving the mound with some regrets following his last start of the regular season. He’ll take the mound around 6:07 p.m. for first pitch.