The middle of the Giants’ order will look to stay hot Wednesday night against the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks and keep San Francisco’s slim wild-card chances alive.
Only four major league teams have scored fewer runs than San Francisco (84-73), and by totaling four runs in three straight home losses to the Chicago Cubs late last week, the Giants’ playoff hopes were essentially ruined.
Molina missed two of those losses with a finger injury, but returned Tuesday and sparked San Francisco’s offense. The veteran catcher and Sandoval combined for eight hits, three homers and six RBIs in the Giants’ 8-4 victory over Arizona, keeping them five games behind wild card-leading Colorado with five to play.
“We’re still breathing,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “There’s a little hope, not a lot.”
The Giants have 117 homers this season - second-fewest in the majors - with Sandoval and Molina accounting for 43 of them.
San Francisco’s 3-4 combination has been at its best this season against the Diamondbacks (68-89). Molina is hitting .409 with five of his 20 homers and 15 RBIs in 12 games versus Arizona, while Sandoval is batting .509 with three homers and 12 RBIs.
The Giants will seek their second win in a week over Arizona rookie Kevin Mulvey(notes) (0-2, 7.41 ERA), who will be seeking his first win in his fourth start since coming over from Minnesota in a Sept. 1 trade. Mulvey’s latest outing was his best, as he gave up three runs over six innings last Wednesday in a 5-2 home loss to San Francisco.
The right-hander allowed two hits - Juan Uribe’s(notes) two-run homer was the big blow - but walked four for the second straight game. Two of those came with Sandoval at the plate, while Molina didn’t face Mulvey.
“It was just a more confident, direct approach at the strike zone, which we hadn’t seen,” manager A.J. Hinch told the Diamondbacks’ official Web site. “So that was a good adjustment for him.”
Right-handers are hitting .424 against Mulvey.
Penny had been chased after allowing seven runs over 2 2-3 innings against Los Angeles on Sept. 19, but gave up only one run and seven hits over eight innings Thursday against the Cubs. Brian Wilson’s(notes) seventh blown save, however, cost Penny the win and dealt the Giants a critical 3-2 loss.
Even though he’d only thrown 94 pitches, Penny didn’t have a problem with Bochy’s decision to give the ball to Wilson.
“Nine times out of 10 he saves that game,” Penny told the Giants’ official Web site. “I’d give the ball to him in the ninth anytime he wanted it.
“To me, it’s a no-brainer. Every manager in the game would go to his closer right there, especially in a one-run game.”
Penny hasn’t faced the Diamondbacks since 2007 while with the Dodgers, but he’s 8-3 with a 2.13 ERA versus Arizona. Major league strikeout leader Mark Reynolds(notes) is 3 for 5 with a homer and two strikeouts against Penny.