Supporting cast starting to step up for the San Francisco Giants 

Freddy Sanchez. Pablo Sandoval. Mark DeRosa. Aaron Rowand.

Every season, the first few weeks are when a team begins to cement its personality. It’s becoming obvious the Giants are going to rely on the quartet mentioned above if they are going to successfully defend their world championship.

After a shaky start with the Giants, Sanchez has turned out to be a pro’s pro. He proved it in the postseason, and he’s proving it again this year. He can hit. He plays hard. If his body holds up, he’ll be a key ingredient to the Giants’ success in 2011. 

I said last week it’s looking more and more like Sandoval wouldn’t be in a Giants uniform two years from now. As if to shut me up, he’s begun raking again, and if he keeps hitting like he has been the past week, he’ll be here a lot longer than that.

When Sandoval hits, it feels as if the Giants can beat up on an opponent. When he doesn’t, it feels like they’re in for nine innings of clawing for every run.

Offensive production doesn’t always fall from Panda’s shoulders, but so far in 2011 when he’s raking, the Giants are usually rolling.

It just feels like DeRosa will be key, just the way he has been filling in so far. A little bit here, a little bit there.

I’m betting the Giants are going to find themselves depending on him in a big way at some point in 2011.

If you had told me this spring that Rowand had a place on this team, I would have told you you’re crazy. That said, he’s playing himself into a productive role: left field, center field, doesn’t matter. It feels like the Giants are going to need Rowand the rest of the way.

If these four guys produce when called upon, the Giants will be just that much less dependent on their pitching staff, which is still trying to find its 2011 groove.

Random thoughts

Freak check: Since Tim Lincecum went 0-5 with a 7.82 ERA in August — spawning all kinds of worry among Giants fans — he’s made 15 starts (including the postseason), and posted the following numbers: an 11-3 record with a 2.13 ERA, allowing just 73 hits in 105²?³ innings, averaging 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings. Everybody done worrying?

I’m beginning to like the way Jonathan Sanchez walks off the field at the end of an inning. Easiest motion in baseball.

Good news? The Giants took four straight series, beginning with the St. Louis Cardinals two weeks ago, then the Los Angeles  Dodgers, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies. Two out of three each time.

Bad news? I don’t like the way, after taking the first two games of the series, they lost the final games vs. the Diamondbacks and the Rockies.

Tim Liotta is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to The Examiner. Email him at tliotta@sfexaminer.com.

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