Facing Chapman was 'fun' for Panda

Facing Chapman was 'fun' for Panda

Facing Chapman was 'fun' for Panda
SAN FRANCISCO -- Pablo Sandoval offered a one-word answer Sunday when he was asked what it was like to face Reds closer Aroldis Chapman in the ninth inning of Game 1 of the National League Division Series in Saturday's 5-2 loss.

Surprisingly, the Giants third baseman didn't opt for "frightening" or "daunting."

"Fun," Sandoval said, smiling like only he can.

With his team trailing the Reds, 5-1, Sandoval came to the plate with the bases loaded. He fouled off a 99-mph fastball, did the same with a 100-mph offering and then popped up a 99-mph fastball to short right field on the third pitch he saw that was caught by Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips for the second out of the inning.

Even though he didn't get the result he wanted, Sandoval relished the situation, even while facing the Reds closer, who was taxed in the ninth and had to throw 28 pitches to get three outs.

"I just try to put the barrel on the ball," Sandoval said. "It's a good matchup to face guys like that and you fight for that at-bat. It was exciting for me to be in that situation."

Exciting in the sense because two years ago, Sandoval was essentially a role player during the playoffs, having lost his starting spot. Sandoval had five plate appearances during three rounds of the playoffs.

"Tell you the truth, the night before I don't sleep," Sandoval said. "It's exciting to be in postseason."