Panda's 100th homer fulfills birthday request
Sandoval promises to try to go yard in Giants' Facebook chat
SAN FRANCISCO -- Two Tim Lincecum starts, two celebratory champagne toasts in the Giants clubhouse.
This time, the postgame cheers were for Pablo Sandoval, who hit his 100th career home run Tuesday night. The two-run blast in the fourth inning helped catapult the Giants to their 5-0 win against the Cardinals inside AT&T Park.
"It's hard to get one," Sandoval said, "so to get 100 means a lot for me."
The blast that barely reached the left-field bleachers wasn't covered with wrapping paper and a nice, shiny bow. But it might as well have been.
The dinger undoubtedly thrilled the son of Angie Lopez, who issued a request of the third baseman during a team-sponsored Facebook chat earlier Tuesday.
"Today is my son's birthday and he is heading your way to watch the game. Hit one for him, please," Lopez wrote. The third baseman vowed "I will try!" in response.
Sandoval said after the game he thought of the birthday boy after crossing home plate. A happy birthday, indeed.
Inches away, tucked into Sandoval's locker stall, sat his cowboy boots, which frequently appeared in the clubhouse and dugout earlier in the season. After a brief hiatus (during which the Giants' 9 1/2-game lead in the National League West disappeared), Sandoval decided to bring them back to the park Tuesday. The good results for the home team returned, too.
"They weren't out here in June and we had a tough June, so I thought try it again," Sandoval said.
After snapping the team's four-game losing skid, it appears Sandoval's superstition has again worked. Entering Tuesday, the Giants had homered just twice in their last 11 games and had hit just seven over the fence in their last 19 games at AT&T Park.
"That's something we've been missing, the home run, so that was nice to get tonight," manager Bruce Bochy said. "It had been awhile for Pablo."
Sandoval, who had gone 12 consecutive games without a home run, sheepishly answered when asked if he had been aware he was stuck on 99.
"Yes, I did," a smiling Sandoval said after a pause. "I was excited to get it at this moment when we needed it."
With the home run, Sandoval became the 19th player to hit at least 100 home runs with the Giants in the San Francisco era.
"Nice milestone. One hundred home runs and we've gotten to see them all; I know I did," Bochy said. "I don't know what's going to happen, but it'd be nice to see him hit another 100."
For Angie Lopez's son, there will be none bigger than Tuesday night's.
Ryan Hood is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ryanhood19. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.