San Francisco Giants' Nate Schierholtz, bottom center, is congratulated after singling to score Andres Torres in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds in San Francisco, Friday, June 10, 2011. The Giants won 3-2. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
A fighter, even a great one, can take only so many punches. The question before the Giants is, how many can they absorb before they hit the canvas?
They have survived glancing blows, the Andres Torres Achilles tendon strain and the Cody Ross calf injury. Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Belt fractured their wrists. Buster Posey's ankle? A direct hit to the solar plexus.
Now, just as Sandoval prepares to return after six weeks on the disabled list, Freddy Sanchez is gone. The second baseman dislocated his right shoulder while diving for a Brandon Phillips groundball in the fifth inning of Friday night's 3-2 victory over the Reds.
The Giants picked up a walkoff win for the ninth time this season, on pinch-hitter Nate Schierholtz's two-out, bases-loaded single to left against righty Logan Ondrusek.
Manager Bruce Bochy had no immediate prognosis for Sanchez but knows he will not have his most consistent hitter for a long time.
"Obviously, this is not good news," Bochy said.
Sergio Romo, who struck out the side on 11 pitches in the eighth inning, put it this way:
"It's never good news to lose a player the caliber of Freddy, which adds up what kind of year it's been for us DL-wise. You can't replace a guy like Freddy. He's been the most consistent guy on the team on both sides. To see him go down putting in a total effort, like he does every night, is tough to swallow."
Bochy planned to meet with general manager Brian Sabean to discuss an immediate replacement for Sanchez. It will not be Mike Fontenot, who left his rehab start for Triple-A Fresno on Friday night with tightness in his groin. Bochy said he doubted Sandoval would be activated earlier than expected either.
The Giants are fortunate they have not lost too many key players at once. That and their superb pitching have helped them stay in first place in the National League West.
They are 9-7 since Posey was hurt. They are 5-3 on this homestand despite scoring a total of 18 runs.
"I'll say this," Bochy said. "It's a lot - what we've been taking. We're talking about guys hitting in the heart of our order. Freddy is our No. 3 hitter. But this is a different group, a special group. They don't make excuses. They've been grinding, moving forward. That's all you can do."
Ryan Vogelsong and Travis Wood were locked in a 1-1 game when Phillips opened the fifth inning with a grounder up the middle. Sanchez made a diving stop but stayed on the ground, face down, immobile.
Shortstop Emmanuel Burriss knew immediately that his keystone mate was hurt seriously. Sanchez could not even breathe enough to scream for help. Moments later, Sanchez walked off the field with assistant trainer Mark Gruesbeck holding his right arm level.
Sanchez has had two left-shoulder operations since he joined the Giants. This, though, is his throwing arm.
The Giants overcame the injury with a big night from Miguel Tejada, who hit his third and fourth doubles of the series. He scored the first run on a Ross single and drove in the second.
After more excellence from Vogelsong and the bullpen, pinch-hitter Andres Torres drew a leadoff walk in the ninth. A Burriss sacrifice, an intentional walk to Tejada and Ross' two-out walk loaded the bases for Schierholtz, who won the game with the inning's only hit.
Schierholtz became the eighth different Giant to get the RBI in a walkoff win. The one player who has two: Freddy Sanchez.