SAN FRANCISCO -- This postseason has been an unqualified success for Pablo Sandoval, which represents a welcome change from his previous October experience.
Sandoval entered Monday's Game 7 of the National League Championship Series against St. Louis with a .382 batting average (13-for-34) with three home runs and eight RBIs in his previous eight games. His overall postseason average of .326 was the best among Giants with double-digit at-bat totals.Two years ago, an overweight Sandoval appeared in only six of the Giants' 15 postseason games and hit .176 (3-for-17).
"His confidence was down," manager Bruce Bochy said. "I think he was lost at the plate."As the Giants marched to their World Series conquest, Mike Fontenot and Juan Uribe siphoned playing time from Sandoval. Now, Bochy wouldn't think of benching him. "We had a little more coverage in 2010 with the offense. This year he's needed," Bochy said. "He's really delivered for us, too, and played great. His confidence is so much higher at this point than what it was in 2010." Bochy also noted that Sandoval, 26, appears to have matured.
"He still has a lot of fun, but I think he's more serious than he was before," Bochy said. "I think he's grown as a person and as a player."
The Giants' historical inability, in a 128-year stretch, to yet win a postseason series-ending Game 7 heading into Monday night's NLCS decider received considerable attention. But that did not make them unique among the Majors' 16 charter franchises. Also yet to win a series-ending Game 7 in any postseason series: the Phillies, the Cubs, the Browns-Orioles, the White Sox and the Indians. Through six games, the Cardinals (three) and the Giants (one) had combined for four stolen bases. The record low for a seven-game NLCS is five, by the Marlins (4) and the Cubs (1) in 2003 and by the Braves (4) and Cardinals (1) in 1996.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.