MLB

Two much: Sanchez sets Series record

Ken Rosenthal chats with Freddy Sanchez after the Giants' 11-7 win over the Rangers in Game 1 of the World Series.
Ken Rosenthal chats with Freddy Sanchez after the Giants' 11-7 win over the Rangers in Game 1...
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Ken Rosenthal

Ken Rosenthal has been the FOXSports.com's Senior MLB Writer since August 2005. He appears weekly on MLB on FOX, FOX Sports Radio and MLB Network. He's a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter.

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SAN FRANCISCO

Now I've seen it all, but I shouldn't say that, because in this upside-down postseason, surely something even more bizarre awaits.

The Giants not only scored 11 runs during a game started by Cliff Lee in the World Series opener, but – I kid you not – they also rolled out a startling new wrinkle.

A legitimate top of the order.

Freddy Sanchez, the team's No. 2 hitter, felt terrible in his first round of batting practice, according to hitting coach Hensley Meulens.

By the end of the Giants' 11-7 victory, Sanchez had become the first player to hit doubles in each of his first three Series at-bats, and the first Giant to collect four hits in a Series game since – ahem – Monte Irvin in 1951.

Sanchez, you may recall, was 2 for 16 in the division series. So was the Giants' leadoff hitter, Andres Torres. Since then, the twin terrors are a combined 21 for 54, which equates to a tidy .389 batting average.

"Freddy was unconscious," said Giants outfielder Cody Ross, who, of course, was Freddy Sanchez before Freddy Sanchez. "But that's how he is. When he gets hot, he gets hot. He can carry a team."

Sanchez? Really?

Well, yes.

People forget, he won the NL batting title by hitting .344 for the Pirates in 2006, and also led the league that year with 53 doubles. But since joining the Giants in a trade on July 29, 2009, he has faced one injury after another.

A right shoulder strain that sent him to the DL a month after the trade. Surgery on his left knee at the end of the '09 season. And then, surgery on his left shoulder a few months later.

"Anybody who knows me, that is close to me, knows it's been a long road from the day I got traded over here until now," Sanchez said.

"I'm still not where I need to be obviously strength-wise and physically, but I'm good enough, and I can't thank the man upstairs enough for at least helping me in this situation and keeping me going."

Sanchez, 32, is a frenetic worker, constantly approaching Meulens during batting practice, talking, gesturing and pantomiming the start of his swing. His pre-game preparation, Meulens said, is more obsessive than most.

In addition to taking BP, Sanchez will work off a tee in an indoor cage, hit balls tossed to him by Meulens and focus on keeping his body upright without leaning over.

"Freddy has a routine that he likes to go through," Meulens said. "He makes sure he checks off all of the variables in his mechanics. It takes a little while to get him through all that.

"Pre-BP, it takes him about 15 minutes to go through it. Pre-game, it takes him about 5 to 7 minutes to get ready. He's very driven. He knows what he wants to do on a daily basis."

At the start of BP on Wednesday, Meulens said, Sanchez simply did not feel right. But he started to click the last couple of rounds, and by the start of the game, he was riding an adrenaline rush.

All three of his doubles were off Lee. The first was down the right-field line. The second, a liner over the glove of Rangers third baseman Michael Young, pulled the Giants to within 2-1. The third, a bullet to left-center, gave the Giants the lead.

Sanchez then lined out to right before hitting a single to right for his fourth hit. Afterward, the Giants’ Mark DeRosa noted that the hitters who succeed against Lee are those who stay inside the ball and go to the opposite field, specifically mentioning Sanchez and Buster Posey. But in Game 1, Sanchez was spraying balls all over the park, prompting Rangers manager Ron Washington to say, “That guy can hit, man.”

For one night at least, the Giants could hit, too.

"Once every two or three weeks, we actually score more than five or six runs," first baseman Aubrey Huff cracked.

These Giants, though, are quite proficient at producing unlikely heroes.

Ross? He's yesterday's news.

Freddy is the new Cody.

"No," Ross said, smiling. "He's better."

Tagged: Rangers, Giants, Freddy Sanchez, Cliff Lee, Cody Ross

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