POSTGAME NOTES: Giants Play Smart To Win, Schierholtz Shows Macho Brazo, Another NL Ace Looms Sunday, Sandoval Sent Back To Minors

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To take a series from a team like the Phillies, you need to execute pitches and get timely hits. But you also need to do something a little less quantifiable.

You’ve got to play smart.

Example A: Edgar Renteria.

Now, don’t get me wrong. First and foremost, it always takes talent. That’s what it took for the Giants to throw out Ryan Howard trying to stretch a single into a double in the second inning. Namely, it took Nate Scierholtz’s athleticism and plus arm in right field. (A job he’s pretty much grabbed back, it would appear.)

But Howard might have been safe if he slid. And he didn’t slide because Renteria, sly dog that he is, stood flat-footed as if a throw weren’t coming.

The deke was as effective as anything you’ll see on a frozen pond.

Howard pulled up, Renteria applied the quick tag, and Howard wore a look as if he were in one of those “Wanna Get Away” commercials. (Although personally, I like this Southwest Airlines ad campaign better.)

Renteria’s skills aren’t what they once were. He is no longer an elite-level talent. But he has been in many, many high-profile games. He’s a smart baseball player. He’s an asset in games like these against quality opponents. He showed it Tuesday night.

Schierholtz seemed a bit flummoxed to see a cocoon of reporters waiting for him at his locker. He’s contributed to many victories, but seldom has he worn the hero crown.

He didn’t revel in the moment after hosing two runners from right field.

“It all depends in the carom off the wall,” Schierholtz said. “I just happened to get good hops out there. It’s not going to happen every time, but it worked out that way.”

His second victim was the most impressive of all. That’s because it came in the ninth inning, with the Phillies down four runs and Chase Utley on the basepaths. Utley is one of the most astute players in the game. If he thought there was any chance of getting thrown out trying for two in that situation, he wouldn’t have gone.

But he went. And Nate made him regret it.

Amazing throw. Amazing play.

Schierholtz’s great game might be more writing on the wall for John Bowker, whom I wrote about in the notebook.

Here’s a link to the game story.

The Giants already beat Roy Halladay and Adam Wainwright on this homestand. Looks like they’ll have to take down Ubaldo Jimenez, too.

A few days ago, it was thought the Giants would miss Jimenez in this weekend’s series against the Colorado Rockies. The only way he’d pitch Sunday would be if the Rockies used their day off Thursday to skip their No.5 starter.

Well, it looks like the Rockies won’t have a choice. Jorge De La Rosa is hurt. So is Jason Hammel. Unless they’re content to go with a few warm bodies, they’ll probably be forced to come back to Jimenez Sunday on his regular complement of rest. Probably isn’t a bad idea to have him face your hottest division rival, too.

So the drumbeat of premier pitching goes on. At least the Giants won’t have to face Tim Lincecum.

Prior to the game, Manager Bruce Bochy said he was pleased with the Giants’ overall defensive effort and execution. But if there’s one area they need to tighten up, it’s the running game.

Jayson Werth helped the Phillies steal the game’s first run in the second inning. He caught everyone napping on a delayed steal of third base, then scored on Raul Ibanez’s sacrifice fly.

Giants opponents entered the game with 17 stolen bases in 21 attempts; the plodding Giants had just five steals in eight attempts. They also had grounded into a major league leading 25 double plays.

Pablo Sandoval added to that total in the third inning, but put an asterisk next to it. For one, Phillies shortstop Juan Castro, the most underrated great defensive player in major league history, made an unbelievable flip to second baseman Chase Utley. For another, replays showed Sandoval clearly beat the relay throw.

Angel Villalona’s preliminary hearing in the Dominican Republic was scheduled for today, but I haven’t been able to get any information about it or even verify that the hearing took place.

Giants chief legal counsel Jack Bair declined to be interviewed and I was told the club won’t release any information or make any comment. You’d better believe they are keeping tabs on this situation, though. Villalona represents a $2.1 million investment.

Yes, it will be interesting to see what the Giants do if Villalona is cleared of murder charges and reestablishes his U.S. visa. But let’s wait for more details to emerge first. I’ll do what I can to provide you with them.

The Giants are sending Pablo Sandoval back to the minors.

After playing at AT&T Park Wednesday afternoon, he’ll take part in the inaugural San Jose Giants homecoming day that evening. Dan Runzler, Waldis Joaquin and Sergio Romo and Matt Downs will appear, too.

Festivities will include a Meet and Greet with season ticket holders, a homecoming parade around the warning track, participation in between-inning promotional activities, a first pitch ceremony and the crowning of a Homecoming Queen.

Just kidding about that last one.

It starts at 5:30 p.m. at Municipal Stadium. First pitch for the SJ Giants game is at 7.

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POSTGAME NOTES: Giants play smart to win, Schierholtz shows macho brazo, another NL ace looms Sunday, Sandoval sent back to minors
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