The Panda finally broke free Friday night.
That would be Pablo Sandoval, known in San Francisco as the "Kung Fu Panda," who clobbered a three-run homer in the fourth inning of the Giants' 9-2 win over the White Sox in the Interleague series opener at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Sandoval's clout off White Sox starter Lucas Giolito ended an 0-for-39 skid, the longest hitless streak by a Giants position player in the modern era. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it also was the longest hitless stretch endured by any position player since Coco Crisp also recorded 39 straight hitless at-bats with Oakland spanning the 2014 and '15 seasons. Additionally, it was Sandoval's first hit since he delivered a fifth-inning single Aug. 25 at Arizona.
This was an especially productive evening for Sandoval, who's batting .201 with two home runs 30 games for the Giants. Batting right-handed, his weaker side, the switch-hitter drove Aaron Bummer's 92-mph sinker to deep left field for a sixth-inning sacrifice fly that increased his RBI total for the game to a season-high four, doubling his output for the Giants since he rejoined them in early August.
Sandoval insisted that he didn't dwell on the lengthening number of outs he tallied before his 413-foot home run.
"That's the one thing -- you have to learn to come here every day to the field with great attitude and great positivity to do everything you can to get out of those things," Sandoval said. "I don't even think about it. I just go to home plate, take care of my things out there and put a good swing to the ball."
Thus, Sandoval claimed that he avoided the trap of feeling undue pressure.
"It's a game. You have to have fun," Sandoval said. "If you don't have fun, that's when you've got pressure on. It's one of those things where we've had fun these last couple days and don't stress too much in the game."
Sandoval's teammates, he said, "helped me a lot" in maintaining a positive outlook. "They give me confidence at home plate and to come to the field to have fun."
As the beneficiary of Sandoval's homer, Giants starter Matt Moore appreciated the feat for putting him and the club ahead. But Moore also cited the big hit's bigger meaning.
"There are a lot of ways to break out of it, but that's probably the best one right there," Moore said. "A no-doubter like that is something where you could take a breath for himself. When you go through tough times, everybody wants to help, and there's a lot of stuff going on, but for him to pop out and hit a homer like that, it should go a long way."
Giants manager Bruce Bochy held himself partly accountable for Sandoval's tailspin.
"I'll take the blame a little bit. I probably should have rested him a little bit more," Bochy said. "We went through a tough part of the schedule, the doubleheader, playing in Florida and getting in late -- he's the one guy that didn't get a break or miss an inning. It might have caught up with him."
That's why Bochy belileved that Sandoval's' two-day rest entering Friday made a difference.
"I thought that, tonight, the bat was quicker," Bochy said. "... He just kept talking me into playing. He played about 18 or 19 in a row, and I'm sure it caught up with him."