If the San Francisco Giants want to sweep the Washington Nationals Wednesday afternoon they will have to do it without slugger Pablo Sandoval. The third baseman is unable to suit up for the series finale due to an illness that he suffered earlier in the week.
Sandoval fought off the flu as best he could Tuesday night to help the Giants defeat the Nationals in extra innings. It was his second walk-off home run of his career that gave reliever Jeremy Affeldt his first win of the 2013 Major League Baseball season and San Francisco their 26th. More importantly, Sandoval’s two-run blast helped keep the Giants tied with the Arizona Diamondbacks for first place in the National League West.
“We love pressure, man,” Sandoval said, according to SFGiants.com. “I think it’s our favorite part.”
If any team in the big leagues knows pressure, it is San Francisco. The Giants have recorded six walk-off victories and 13 come-from-behind wins this season. That means half of their victories in 2013 have occurred when the chips were down. If San Francisco makes another magical postseason run, and people wonder how the team got there, all they have to do is look at the come-from-behind statistic.
Fans should not count on Sandoval making an appearance on Wednesday, even if the game goes into extra innings. The 26-year-old needs his rest so that he can overcome the flu before the weekend series against the competitive Colorado Rockies.
Joaquin Arias will take Sandoval’s spot at third base against the Nationals. The 28-year-old is batting .229 with three RBI in 35 at-bats. It is certainly incomparable to Sandoval’s .308 batting average, eight home runs, 34 RBI and seven doubles in 182 at-bats this season. However, it will have to do for what will most likely be just one game.