Adrianza rewards manager's faith with key hit

Adrianza rewards manager's faith with key hit

SAN FRANCISCO -- A blend of strategy and execution led to one of the Giants' most essential hits among the 15 they collected in Friday's 8-1 victory over the New York Mets: Ehire Adrianza's pinch-hit single that broke a 1-1 tie in the seventh inning.

"It should do a lot for him," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "This kid has a lot of confidence. He wants to be up there. He has no fear."

Bochy knew he wanted Adrianza at bat but didn't send him to the plate immediately. Meanwhile, Adrianza had to focus on his task, after enduring peaks and valleys of performance Wednesday.

Activity in the seventh inning accelerated as Eduardo Nunez doubled and Joe Panik drew an intentional walk with one out. With rookie right-hander Seth Lugo still in the game for the Mets, Bochy initially sent Conor Gillaspie to the on-deck circle, but opted for Gregor Blanco instead. As left-handed batters, both faced a theoretical disadvantage against lefty Jerry Blevins, the Mets reliever poised to enter the game.

But Gillaspie had 11 hits in his last 36 at-bats (.306), while Blanco was batting .125 (6-for-48) since the All-Star break.

"The way Conor is swinging, to be honest, I didn't want to take the bat out of his hand," Bochy explained. "If they did make a change, I was covered with A.D. [Adrianza]."

After Blanco was officially announced and Mets manager Terry Collins countered by bringing Blevins in to pitch, Bochy replaced Blanco with the switch-hitting Adrianza, who would swing right-handed against Blevins. Wednesday against Pittsburgh, Adrianza batted right-handed as a late-game replacement and doubled in his first plate appearance before popping up with two men aboard in the ninth inning.

Adrianza, who has missed most of this season with a fractured left foot, was determined to atone for dousing that rally.

"Everybody knows that I had this problem last year. I wasn't able to deliver in the clutch," Adrianza said through interpreter Erwin Higueros. "But that's in the past. This year, I came to Spring Training mentally ready to be a role player to take advantage of the situations."

He took advantage of this one, grounding Blevins' 1-1 pitch through the right side to score Nunez. Denard Span followed with another RBI single before the inning ended.

Right fielder Hunter Pence, who has spent extra time alongside Adrianza while they recovered from their respective injuries, has noticed his teammate's progress.

"All year he's been locked in," Pence said. "You can see the hard work he's put in."

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.