Programming note: Tune in to Giants October Quest, today at 4 p.m. leading up to first pitch of NLCS Game 2, and again following the final out, only on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area!
SAN FRANCISCO -- Tim Lincecum gave a thumbs-up to Bruce Bochy when he arrived Monday, telling his manager he'd be available to pitch in relief one day after delivering two innings out of the bullpen.
Bochy reserved the right to do whatever he deems necessary to win Game 2. But he said his strong preference is to hold back Lincecum for a Game 4 start at St. Louis.
"We'd like to have that option if we decide to go that way," Bochy said. "We'll do all we can to win this one. And we also have Barry Zito if we use Timmy."
If the Giants can hold off using Lincecum until a Game 4 start, then Bochy would have the luxury to choose a Game 5 starter from among Zito and Madison Bumgarner, whose stuff has been flat ever since mid-September.
Does Bochy already have his mind made up between Zito and Bumgarner, should he have that choice?
"No," Bochy said. "It's still a decision."
Bochy did not sound ready to throw in the towel with Bumgarner, who has delivered two poor starts while the Giants have lost all three home playoff games thus far. But he acknowledged he has discussed the innings workload on the 23-year-old left-hander with pitching coach Dave Righetti.
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"Any time you're at this time of year, especially with a young pitcher like Madison, you'll have that conversation," Bochy said. "I remember having them about Timmy. So have we had those conversations? Yeah."
Shutting down Bumgarner hasn't been a part of those talks, though.
"If I thought the stuff had dropped that dramatically, I'd worry about it," Bochy said. "He still has good stuff. He's just making some mistakes. He still has stuff to execute his pitches. It's not like he's throwing 85-86 mph. His delivery gets out of sync at times. That does concern you a little bit."
Bumgarner's biggest foible wasn't the two-run home run he served up to Carlos Beltran in the fourth inning. It was the 0-2 fastball he threw over the plate to the previous batter, Jon Jay, who extended the inning with a single. Bumgarner had thrown two nasty pitches before the fat one.
Bumgarner mentioned after his start that he had to compete better with diminished stuff and reduce his workload between starts. That has been a key, Bochy said, since young players often try to throw more between starts to iron out issues.
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The Cardinals certainly didn't have any dragging arms out there in their 6-4 victory in Game 1. I asked Bochy if he was surprised that his hitters were thrown such an overwhelming number of fastballs.
"That's who they are," Bochy said. "We knew that. They're power arms. They're cranking it up there from 95 to 100. The one guy (Edward Mujica) who doesn't can throw 93 with a good split and slider. That's an impressive bullpen."
As for Chris Carpenter, he's not going to throw 95 mph after making just three regular-season starts. But the reports indicate he's got his previous movement.
"He'll run it, sink it, throw a cutter and changeup," Bochy said. "Still the good movement he's always had, just not with the previous velocity."
One other pregame note: Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford and Cardinals infielder Daniel Descalso were teammates on the same 5-year-old pee-wee soccer team. Crawford was asked what position he played.
"I think at 5 you kind of rotate positions," he said, to laughs.