Rejuvenated Giants split set with Mets
Right-hander Martinez earns victory before hometown crowd
NEW YORK -- A little group therapy apparently helped the Giants a lot on Monday night, as they recorded a season-high 18 hits in a 10-1 victory over the Mets.Sensing that his players were mentally burdened by their season-long struggles on the road, manager Bruce Bochy called a pregame meeting to urge them to adjust their attitudes. He reminded them that they were fully capable of reversing the trends that had led to their 24-34 mark away from home, which contrasted with their 39-20 record at AT&T Park. "I don't think it's a stigma," Bochy said before the game, summarizing his message. "You can believe it or you can shed it. It's your choice." Bochy implored the Giants to play to win instead of not to lose. They responded with an unusually relentless offense, scoring in six innings, with each starting position player collecting at least one hit. "We needed to loosen up, and we did it tonight," Bochy said after the Giants emerged with a split of the four-game series against the Mets and trimmed their deficit in the National League Wild Card race to one game behind the Rockies. "Hopefully this gives momentum to the offense, and we carry this on the rest of the road trip." Consider the Giants good listeners.
"I think everybody went out a little bit more relaxed tonight," center fielder Aaron Rowand said. "It was a great message, and a great time for that message.""I think 'Boch' hit the nail on the head," outfielder Randy Winn said. "You have to throw [the road record] out the window and play good baseball." This game was a keeper for several Giants. Rowand lashed a season-high four hits, including his first home run since July 2, ending a long ball drought of 98 at-bats. Striving to reassert himself as an everyday player, Winn went 3-for-5 and scored twice. Nate Schierholtz rapped the evening's biggest hit, a bases-loaded, two-run, pinch-hit double off Livan Hernandez (7-8) in a three-run sixth inning that widened San Francisco's lead to five runs. All of this benefited Joe Martinez (3-1), the native of nearby South Orange, N.J., who thrilled dozens of friends and relatives watching him pitch at Citi Field.
"More than 10, less than 100," Martinez said.
Because Schierholtz pinch-hit for Martinez, the right-hander worked only five innings, but that was long enough to earn him the decision.Martinez yielded New York's lone run, and it could have been more had it not been for Rowand. Free from the pain that had lingered in his right arm since he was hit by a pitch earlier this month, Rowand notched two assists, throwing out Cory Sullivan at home plate in the first inning, then catching up with Daniel Murphy's warning-track drive in the fifth and starting an inning-ending double play that trapped Gary Sheffield off first base. "About four or five days ago was the first time my arm felt 100 percent," Rowand said. Rowand's bat has regained its health, too. Mired in a slump that had grown to 0-for-14, Rowand discovered a hitch in his swing and, while resting on Sunday, took extra rounds of batting practice to resuscitate his stroke. "I found out why I was fouling off fastballs as opposed to getting to them," he said. The most prodigious hit belonged to Schierholtz, who ricocheted Hernandez's 2-1 pitch off the right-field wall. The line drive struck a recessed portion of the wall and would have been a grand slam in many other ballparks.
"It's kind of a funky field," Schierholtz said.Though Bochy knew that pinch-hitting for Martinez would force him to activate his bullpen in the sixth inning, he didn't hesitate to make the move. Even Martinez called it a "no-brainer."
Said Bochy: "We were going for it at that point. Joe was throwing the ball well, but we wanted to try to open it up there, and the 'pen was fresh."As Winn pointed out, time will tell whether the Giants' outlook also is refreshed. "But, for one day," Winn added, "it feels great."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.