Sandoval hits 3-run homer, Giants rout King Felix, Mariners
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Pablo Sandoval’s role with the Giants is much different now.
“A guy who’s going to be an important pinch hitter for us,” manager Bruce Bochy said, praising the Panda’s efforts to stay ready at all times.
That didn’t keep Sandoval from calling his shot during a pregame chat with teammate Andrew McCutchen.
Sandoval splashed a three-run homer into McCovey Cove while making a rare start, Johnny Cueto earned his first win of the season and San Francisco jumped all over Seattle ace Felix Hernandez in a 10-1 rout of the Mariners on Wednesday.
“It’s one of those days you came to the park and felt great,” Sandoval said. “One of those days you feel something is going to happen.”
Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford and Gorkys Hernandez also homered as the Giants got their bats going at last to back Cueto (1-0).
San Francisco rebounded quickly after losing its home opener a day earlier. Sandoval drew a bases-loaded walk to put the Giants ahead against Hernandez (1-1) in the first, when they also scored runs on a wild pitch and Crawford’s sacrifice fly.
Gorkys Hernandez connected leading off the second. He was a last-minute lineup replacement for injured Hunter Pence, with Hernandez playing center field and Gregor Blanco shifting from center to Pence’s spot in left. Hernandez had a career-high 310 at-bats last season but failed to clear the fences.
“Last year I had nothing,” he said. “So now I have one.”
Belt started the fifth with a drive to left. Sandoval’s drive into the water three batters later chased Felix Hernandez, and Crawford followed with his first homer.
Sandoval, the 2012 World Series MVP, got a start at third base in place of Evan Longoria to get some at-bats. His eight career splash-hit homers are second-most in ballpark history behind 35 by home run king Barry Bonds.
It was the first time the Giants hit three homers in one inning since June 2, 2016, at Atlanta — also in the fifth. They last did it at home on May 7, 2007, in the fifth inning as well, against the Mets.
Belt added an RBI single in the seventh.
Ichiro Suzuki started in left field for Seattle and went 0 for 3 with a strikeout. It marked Suzuki’s first appearance playing in San Francisco while with the Mariners since he hit an inside-the-park homer in the 2007 All-Star Game. He didn’t appear in the series opener Tuesday.
“A lot of things Ichiro does is cool,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said before the game. “He’s an unbelievably great player. We all have different Ichiro memories. I’m looking forward to making some new ones.”
Cueto pumped his fist walking off the mound after getting Suzuki to line out to left, ending the sixth with runners on second and third. The right-hander allowed eight hits and one run in six innings. He struck out one and walked two.
TOUGH TO BE KING
King Felix walked five or more batters for the 15th time in his career. He was tagged for eight runs and six hits in four-plus innings. He gave up three homers for the first time since Aug. 15, 2015, in a 22-10 loss at Boston. Also, his eight earned runs allowed to the Giants were the right-hander’s most since giving up 10 that same day versus the Red Sox.
“Zero command of my fastball,” Hernandez said. “I fell behind most of the time. When you’re behind and have to come down the middle, it hurts. That’s what happened.”
Mariners: C Mike Zunino (strained left oblique) went through a workout Tuesday and will likely have a strenuous session Thursday with the hopes he could join the team during its weekend series at Minnesota. ... RHP Erasmo Ramirez (strained right lat muscle) pitched a simulated game for Triple-A Tacoma on Tuesday and “he continues to move in the right direction,” Servais said. ... Nelson Cruz is feeling better nursing his sprained right ankle.
Giants: Pence was a late scratch after he sprained his right thumb diving for Robinson Cano’s RBI double in the fifth inning Tuesday. He could be ready to start again Friday after a day off. ... RHP Jeff Samardzija, on the disabled list with a right pectoral strain, will throw another bullpen session Friday before likely beginning a rehab assignment.
Mariners: Seattle sent Thursday starter James Paxton (0-1, 11.57 ERA) on a flight ahead of the team to get settled given the cold forecast in Minnesota.
Giants: Open a home series against the rival Dodgers on Friday, with Derek Holland (0-1) starting opposite Kenta Maeda (1-0).
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