Sandoval finished a close second to Philadelphia's Shane Victorino in the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Final Vote but had a chance to claim a vacancy created by Carlos Beltran's injury. That's when Manuel, the NL All-Star manager, chose his right fielder, Jayson Werth, instead of Sandoval.
By the All-Star break, Werth had outscored and outhomered Sandoval, 60-41 and 20-15, respectively. But Sandoval owned clear advantages in batting average (.333-263) and OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage, .964-.884).
Yet Sandoval sounded sincere in denying that he sought to prove a point to Manuel.
"That was past, in the first half. I don't care about the past," Sandoval said. "Now I care about the second half."
Manuel insisted that he nearly chose Sandoval for the Midsummer Classic.
"It was very hard," Manuel said. "This is the first time I got to see him play. He's aggressive. He swings. He's a good hitter. He's kind of fun to watch. I've heard a lot about him."
When a reporter suggested that Sandoval might have been striving to grab Manuel's attention, the skipper responded with a laugh, "Then maybe our pitchers are going to have to get his attention and get him out some. How about that?"
Phillies starter Rodrigo Lopez (3-1) also struggled to retire Eugenio Velez, whose three hits matched a personal best. Velez twice performed in tandem with Sandoval. He lined a first-inning RBI double before scoring on Sandoval's sacrifice fly, then hit a bases-loaded, two-run single in the fourth inning that preceded the Panda's two-run double.
Sandoval sandwiched those plate appearances around his most impressive feat: his 16th home run, which landed in the bay for his first career "Splash Hit." Sandoval picked a fitting evening to reach McCovey Cove, since this was the 50th anniversary of the Major League debut of the man who gave the Cove its name.
Sandoval said that he has tapped the wisdom of McCovey, who attends nearly every Giants home game -- including Thursday's -- and frequently visits the clubhouse.
"He taught me a lot of things about hitting," Sandoval said. "... Every time he's here we talk a little bit."
Sandoval said that McCovey's most important advice to him was simple. "Keep seeing the ball," Sandoval said.
By the way, what symmetry: The final score of McCovey's debut game? Giants 7, Phillies 2.
The Giants' highest single-game scoring total since the All-Star break benefited Jonathan Sanchez (4-9), who allowed both Phillies runs and three hits in 5 2/3 innings. Sanchez, making his first start at home since pitching his July 10 no-hitter against San Diego, improved to 4-1 with a 3.26 ERA at AT&T Park, compared with 0-8, 6.33 on the road.
Sanchez yielded Ryan Howard's first-inning RBI double but simultaneously demonstrated winning stuff by striking out the side. His fastball, which routinely registered 96 mph on AT&T Park's velocity readings, complemented the offspeed pitches he used to record most of his outs.
"He used all of his pitches. That's what he needs to do," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
Like Sandoval, Sanchez involved himself in some non-intrigue. He fired his first pitch of the sixth inning directly at the head of Chase Utley, who displayed admirable reflexes by avoiding the missile.
"I lost my release point," Sanchez said. "It was supposed to be [outside]. I didn't try to hit him. I have nothing against him."
Still, Utley stared hard and long at Sanchez and called time out later in the at-bat in a clear attempt to rattle the left-hander. Utley gained the ultimate revenge by homering on a 2-2 pitch.
If any hostility was generated, it didn't overflow, though ex-Giant Tyler Walker plunked Ryan Garko in the seventh inning and prompted umpire Tim Welke to warn both benches. Asked if he thought Walker threw a purpose pitch to Garko, Bochy said, "I don't know. It certainly looked like it."