Giants' Sanchez homers three times

San Jose cleanup hitter continues power surge with six RBIs

Hector Sanchez has 31 RBIs in 20 games this month for San Jose. (Barry Colla)

By Danny Wild / MLB.com | May 23, 2011 2:59 PM

Hector Sanchez failed to drive in a run for the first time in 15 games Sunday afternoon. He made up for it Monday and then some.

Sanchez homered three times and plated six runs a day after snapping his mighty production streak as Class A Advanced San Jose outlasted Stockton, 12-9.

The Venezuelan native, who has 31 RBIs in 20 games this month, looked a bit lost to start the game, striking out swinging in the first and fourth innings. What happened next, though, was Reggie Jackson-esque.

"It was a great day. I struggled a bit in my first two at-bats, but I never gave up," Sanchez said. "I kept working."

Sanchez clubbed a two-run shot to right field off Chris Mederos in the fifth, led off the seventh with a home run to right off Connor Hoehn and connected again an inning later with two outs, hitting a three-run drive to right off Hoehn.

"I waited for a good pitch," Sanchez said of his first homer. "He threw a fastball I could hit, and I hit it well."

Sanchez said he was sitting on fastballs all three at-bats, getting the heater on the first two before reacting to a changeup on the third.

"He's been hot for a week-and-a-half now, really hot," said Giants hitting coach Gary Davenport. "We moved him into the fourth hole and he's been real productive. You've got guys him ahead of him that can get on base, guys behind him with power, so you can't really pitch around him."

Sanchez has taken advantage -- he's batting .313 with eight homers and 38 RBIs in 34 games this year. He has as many RBIs this month as he posted in all of 2010, when he hit .274 with five homers and 31 RBIs in 89 games at Class A Augusta after hitting .299 in 33 games in the Arizona League in '09.

"The difference is because I'm hitting in the fourth spot," Sanchez said. "It's been different from last year."

The switch-hitting catcher had driven home a run in 15 straight games from May 4-21, a streak that included a five-RBI effort on May 8. The Giants' cleanup hitter went 1-for-4 with a run scored Sunday -- not the end of the world for most batters.

"His first two at-bats, he was pulling his head off a lot, and we told him to keep his head down and follow through all the way to contact," Davenport said. "We got into a situation where he needed a fly ball, and he hit it out of the park. And right field, it's a short park here in Stockton.

It's 326 feet down the line in right at Banner Island Ballpark, which was no match for Sanchez on this day.

"There's a beer garden or something in right," Davenport said, "but you still have to hit it to get it out."

"I've never hit three home runs in a game, but it was the same plan, I wanted the fastball," Sanchez said of his third longball. "And I hit the changeup."

The 21-year-old signed with San Francisco as a non-drafted free agent prior to the 2007 season and has worked his way up from the club's Rookie-level affiliates since.

Sanchez said he's been focusing on his defense behind the plate this season, although with three catchers on the roster, San Jose is trying to rotate the youngsters without losing their bats. Davenport said Sanchez will likely see time as a designated hitter this season.

"We knew he could hit," Davenport said. "It was exciting. You don't expect [three home runs], and I think one of them he was trying to hit a sac fly. His third, he was definitely swinging hard. It was exciting, it was my first time being involved in something like that. He had a real big game, a game to remember."

Stockton's Anthony Aliotti, also batting cleanup, followed suit with a grand slam in the fifth.

Danny Wild is an editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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