EXTRA BAGGS: Assessing the Giants after 159 games, etc.

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EXTRA BAGGS: Assessing the Giants after 159 games, etc.

SAN DIEGO In a sense, the Giants 7-5 victory at PetcoPark had all the markings of one of their comeback victories from down thestretch in 2010.

Simply substitute Xavier Nady for Pat Burrell and cast HunterPence in the role of Juan "Jazz Hands" Uribe. Their home runs in the ninth inning gave theGiants a sudden and stirring 7-5 victory over the Padres at Petco Park.

But in so many other respects, this is not the same teamthat so memorably squeaked into the playoffs two years ago. Their pitchersdont have near the run of dominance heading into an NL Division Series, and aswe all know, pitching is what usually leads to trophy hoisting, stingingcorneas and the like.

Tim Lincecum, for all his brave face, is not Tim Lincecumanymore. And for all the teams success in holding a bullpen together without atrue closer, the Giants will miss Brian Wilsons bravado more in October thanany other month. Someone has to have the stones to throw that last pitch to naildown a postseason series. Aside from Wilson, nobody in a Giants uniform has anyexperience doing that.

But every year is unto itself, with a different set of namesand chemistry and circumstances.

Here is where the NL West champion Giants stand right now,with three games remaining in the regular season:

Theyre going to open at home as the No.3 seed unless theylose the last three and the Reds win their last three. Their opponent could bethe Reds or Nationals; the two teams have identical records after the Reds wonand the Nats lost on Sunday. But Washington holds the tiebreaker by virtue ofwinning the season series. So theres still a better likelihood itll beCincinnati.

It hasnt been announced that Matt Cain will start for theGiants in Game 1 on Saturday at AT&T Park. But it also hasnt beenannounced that I have a nose in the middle of my face.

I would be surprised if its anyone but Cain and MadisonBumgarner in the first two games, both because Bumgarner has pitched so muchbetter at home and because hes looked upon as the second most trustworthystarter of the bunch

As for Cain hes Matt Cain.

Under this (one-time only!) 2-3 format, the lower seedpretty much has to throw the best two guys and hope to sweep their two homegames. I think thats how the Giants will decide to line them up.

I also think youll see Lincecum start Game 3, in spite ofhis wretched season. As Bochy said, Lincecum is a rise to the occasion typeof guy. And as we reported today, Lincecum has been told he will be a part of the postseason rotation. (Although it was unclear who, exactly, delivered that message.)

But as Lincecum himself acknowledged Sunday, he cannot expect to get along leash if he struggles. Ryan Vogelsong has much more experience in reliefthan Barry Zito, so Id expect that Vogelsong would unbutton a jacket in ahurry if Lincecum is out of whack in the early innings.

That would leave Zito for Game 4, right? Well, thats myguess, too. But only if the Giants are leading the series. Actually, my guessis that the Giants wont announce a Game 4 starter at the outset. If they faceelimination, it might be more likely that theyll bring back Cain on shortrest.

Remember, Bochy is the wily skipper who used three-fourthsof his playoff rotation in a clinching Game 6 victory at Philadelphia in theNLCS two years ago. And that was a non-elimination game.

During the regular season, the smart money is always topredict that Bochy will make the conservative move. In the playoffs, all betsare off. Its all decks on hand, as he himself once famously said.

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One other thing to keep in mind: Two years ago, the Giants opened the postseason against an injury-wrecked Braves team that limped to the wild card with a skeleton crew in their lineup. This time, the Giants are guaranteed to face a powerhouse. So that's one more reason the pitching needs to step up, and fast.

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Nady hit his pinch home run to dead center not far fromwhere Cameron Maybin robbed him by reaching over the wall a night earlier. Thisone was hit a little deeper, and Maybin mustve left his Go-Go Gadget arm inhis car.

It also should be noted that Nadys homer came off aright-hander, Huston Street, who had not given up a home run all season.(Street hadnt given up a homer since Aug. 1, 2011, when he was wearing aRockies uniform.)

It begs the question: Would Bruce Bochy consider startingNady in left field against right-handers in the postseason?

Bochy did go as far as to caution that left field wouldntbe a straight platoon between Nady and Gregor Blanco.

No, not necessarily, Bochy said. Weve talked about it,the matchups, and the defense, speed and (Nadys) bat. These are things weretalking about. In the meantime, hes getting his at-bats and hes getting moreand more comfortable out there.

One other advantage to starting Nady: It would allow Blancoto provide another option off the bench to get a bunt down or pinch-run.

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Not only had Huston Street not given up a homer all year,but he hadnt been dealt a loss or blown a save.

As the great Bill Center of the San Diego Union Tribunewrote it: Gone, gone and gone twice.

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Xavier Nady and Hunter Pence hit home runs in the ninthinning to save Tim Lincecum from his 16th loss.

If you told me in spring training that Id be typing thatsentence on Sept. 30, Id assume you escaped the drunk tank at the city jailbeyond the center field fence at Scottsdale Stadium.

Come to think of it, that must be the shortest distance inAmerica between a drunk tank and an actual beer line.

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The Dodgers are two games behind St. Louis for the finalwild card spot. They could be eliminated with a Cardinals victory and a loss tothe Giants on Monday night.

Nothing would give the Giants greater pleasure or theirfans, to be sure.

This series at Dodger Stadium might be exactly what theGiants need a motivated opponent throwing quality pitching at them to helpthem get tuned up for the postseason.

As advantageous as the Giants downy soft schedule has beenin September, they havent faced many high-level arms. And theyre sure to seegood ones (Mat Latos, Gio Gonzalez, etc.) very soon.

So ending the season with Clayton Kershaw on Wednesday couldbe constructive, for once.

Plus, theres the chance to eliminate the Dodgers. And youdont need to be Wayne Franklin to realize thats a good thing.

Santiago Casilla says he never received offer from Giants

Santiago Casilla says he never received offer from Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — Over the final month of his time with the Giants, it became clear that Santiago Casilla and the team would part ways. On Friday, Casilla confirmed that he never had the opportunity to return. 

On a conference call to announce a two-year deal with the Oakland A’s, Casilla said he “would have been happy to return to the Giants, but I never got an offer from them. I understood.”

Casilla said he had several opportunities to go elsewhere and close, mentioning the Milwaukee Brewers as one interested team. Casilla signed a two-year, $11 million deal with the A’s, who likely won’t need him to pitch in the ninth. The Brewers went on to bring in Neftali Feliz for one year and $5.35 million; he is expected to close. 

“I preferred to return to the Athletics because that’s where my career started,” Casilla said through interpreter Manolo Hernández Douen. “And I’m very excited.”

Casilla spent the first six years of his career with the A’s before crossing the bridge and becoming a key figure in three title runs. In seven seasons in San Francisco, he posted a 2.42 ERA and saved 123 games. Casilla had a 0.92 ERA in the postseason, but he was stripped of a prominent role in the weeks leading up to the 2016 playoffs. 

Casilla, 36, blew nine saves before being pulled from the ninth inning. He appeared just three times in the final 14 regular season games and just once in the playoffs. He did not take the mound in Game 4 of the NLDS, watching as five other relievers teamed up to give back a three-run lead. 

That moment stung Casilla, and it affected Bruce Bochy, too. The Giants struck quickly in December to bring Mark Melancon in as their new closer, but at the Winter Meetings, Bochy said he would welcome Casilla back in a setup role. 

“He’s a great team player (and) teammate,” Bochy said. “(I) certainly wouldn’t rule it out because he still has great stuff. And he had some hiccups there in that closing role, but I would take him anytime.”

As it turned out, that opportunity was never there for Casilla. The Giants didn’t make another move after the big deal with Melancon, and they’ll rely on younger arms to record most of the outs in the seventh and eighth. Casilla said he’s not bitter about the way it all ended. 

“I have left that in the past,” he said. “It’s a new year, it’s a new year. I have left this in the past.” 

Authorities: Two Dodgers security guards arrested, accused of theft

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Authorities: Two Dodgers security guards arrested, accused of theft

LOS ANGELES -- Prosecutors say two security guards at Los Angeles' Dodger Stadium have been arrested and are accused of stealing equipment, baseballs and jerseys from the major league team to sell online.

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office says Juan DeDios Prada and Fernando Sierra pleaded not guilty to burglary and other charges Thursday.

Prosecutors say the two security guards conspired with a third man, Jesse Luis Dagnesses, to steal baseball uniforms and other team merchandise to sell online.

They say Prada and Sierra stole more than $3,400 from a locked equipment room at the stadium between January 2013 and February 2016.

Authorities say Dagnesses is accused of receiving $950 in stolen baseballs and jerseys.

It wasn't immediately clear if the men had attorneys who could comment on the allegations.