AT&T Park — Moments after Kelby Tomlinson spun to his knees, punctuating his bases-loaded strikeout, Pablo Sandoval emerged from the dugout and stretched his bat high over his head as the crowd roared.
San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy was treating a Tuesday night in May like Game 4 of the World Series. With the Giants trailing the Cincinnati Reds 3-1 in the fourth inning and Ty Blach’s spot in the batting order due up, Bochy summoned his most trustworthy reserve.
Sandoval responded by slapping a shin-high offering for a two-run double into the left-field corner, leveling the score.
Two batters later, Andrew McCutchen pushed the Giants ahead, beating a relay throw to first to leg out a fielder’s choice. The four-run rally, sparked by a Brandon Belt splash hit home run, provided the Giants with all the offense the team would need for a 5-3 win — their third in a row.
“When Tommy struck out there I just felt like my hand was forced,” Bochy said after the 5-3 win. “And I felt like we had enough pitching to get us through it … You don’t know when those chances come up like that, so, you go for it and that’s what we did there and Pablo made it look good by getting a huge hit there.”
Midway through May, the Giants scored the most runs in the National League West. The team sits in third in the division, four games back of the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks.
Brandon Crawford, who hit .189 heading into May, singled amid the fourth-inning siege, continued his May revival, going went 4-for-4. The San Francisco shortstop is now hitting .455 this month, and over the Giants’ three-game winning streak, is 9-for-12 with four doubles. He’s hit safely in in 12 of 14 games, pulling his average up to .290.
“He’s on one these runs that doesn’t happen very often,” Bochy said. “He’s just seeing the ball well and using the whole field.”
Bochy has been meaning to find a day off for Crawford, who’s dealing with back tightness, but his locked-in stretch has complicated matters. Bochy will talk to him before Wednesday’s matinee.
“When a hitter gets on a roll like this, he wants to play,” Bochy said. “But tomorrow, I’ll wait and see before I do the lineup.”
While Crawford trends upward, the rotation continues to teeter. With Blach’s abbreviated outing, Giants starters have failed to make it past the fifth in seven of the last nine games. Thanks to Bochy’s aggressive managing, Blach didn’t even see the fifth.
The left-hander needed 24 pitches to escape the first and ended up surrendering three runs (one earned) on five hits. A Tomlinson error stung Blach in the third. After the second baseman misplayed a Jesse Winkler ground ball, Eugenio Suarez boomed a towering, 400-foot home run into the left-field bleachers.
Afterward, Blach, who threw just 62 pitches, was 100-percent on board with the early hook.
“It was a big situation,” Blach said. “Obviously, we’re down by a couple of runs and need a big hit right there and he pulled the right strings. That was awesome. Pablo comes in and gets a big knock for us, gets the rally kind of rolling there. We’re able to take the lead then the bullpen did a tremendous job shutting it down.”