EXTRA BAGGS: Broomsticks turn from blue to black, etc.

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EXTRA BAGGS: Broomsticks turn from blue to black, etc.

LOS ANGELES Well, you can say one thing about the lastthree rivalry series between the Dodgers and Giants:

Hardware stores have done a brisk business in the broomaisle.

Have you ever seen a trio of three-game series like these?

In June, the Giants took advantage of the Dodgers without Matt Kemp anddominated them while sweeping three games at AT&T Park by a combined scoreof 13-0.

The Giants were the class of the NL West.

A month later, with Kemp and new addition Hanley Ramirez inthe fold, the Dodgers went back to San Francisco returned the favor whilesweeping three by a combined score of 19-3. The Giants were the down-and-outclub in that series, having just put Pablo Sandoval back on the DL. They hadntyet traded for Hunter Pence, either.

The Dodgers were the class of the NL West.

The Giants figured to be back in the prone position as theyarrived at Dodger Stadum on Monday, having just lost Melky Cabrera, the majorleague hits and runs leader, to a season-ending drug suspension.

Instead, it went the other way so much so that the Giantseven managed to pull off a three-game sweep in Chavez Ravine on Wednesdaywithout Cabrera and Buster Posey in the lineup.

Entering this series, I felt these three games would giveeveryone a clearer indication of how these two teams really stack up. One clubor the other would stamp itself the true team to beat in the division.

The Giants cast themselves in that role. They did it in themanner they must, with Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain combiningfor a 3-0 record, 0.87 ERA and 19 strikeouts against one walk in 20 23innings. And the Giants huddled around unexpected heat sources in Angel Pagan,Marco Scutaro and Joaquin Arias.

RELATED: Pagan helping Giants' cause, and his own

But the postgame clubhouse, while jovial, did not includeany chest puffing. There were no comments to the effect of, We gave them whatthey deserved or We showed were the better club, or even, Were the teamto beat.

This season series has seen two many wild swings, and toomany brooms in both black and blue hues. Anything could happen in the six gamesremaining between these two clubs including three Oct. 1-3 at Dodger Stadiumto end the regular season.

Will it come down to that series?

Yeah, it more than likely will, Cain said. I read where(Clayton) Kershaw said the same thing. Youd like to run away, but it more thanlikely will come down to that final series if both teams continue to playwell.

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I asked Tim Lincecum if he could remember the last time the Giants swept three games at Dodger Stadium.

"No, I can't," he said.

I expected that answer. Because it hadn't happened since April 26, 2007 -- exactly 10 days before Lincecum made his major league debut.

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Bochy likes what hes seeing from Arias, who is hammeringleft-handers but also hit two doubles against right-handed relievers inWednesday.

Arias got a load of at-bats on thetrip because the Giants faced four lefties in a five-game span.

Great trip for Joaquin, Bochy said. Hes gotten moreaggressive. Hes letting the bat go and hes playing good defense, too. Hesswinging with authority and hes got some pop, as he showed tonight.

RELATED: Joaquin Arias career stats 2012 game logs

The Giants will face one lefty (Mike Minor on Saturday) inthe upcoming four-game series against the Braves. Its not like Brandon Crawford is slumping, either. Heshitting .400 over his last 11 games and his defense is first-rate.

But I wonder if Bochy will try tofind a way to get Arias in there against some of the right-handers, too.

One option could be to play Arias at third base and moveSandoval to first, but that probably wont happen as long as Pablos hamstringis still tender.

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Both Arias and Sandoval made remarkable plays behind Cain.Arias was the most impressive because he had to heave it as his momentum wasgoing away from first base, and Shane Victorino is not somebody who loafs itdown the line.

I try to make every play, Arias said, through interpreterSergio Romo. That one just turned out to be a little nicer.

Romo found himself trailing off a couple times when tryingto put Arias words in English. So it was suggested he tie up the final answerwith his trademark, Thats whats up catchphrase.

Yeah, Romo said. Thats whats up!

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In this space 24 hours ago, I suggested its not time topanic about Hunter Pence. Well, after watching him go 0 for 3 with two strikeoutsand a pop up Wednesday to finish an 0-for-11 series at Dodger Stadiumit might be time to revise that assessment.

Pence was so out of sorts that Vin Scully went on forseveral minutes about it. All else being equal, Pence looks ready for a dayoff. But the Giants are so stretched in the outfield already. Its more likelythat Pence will just have to make an adjustment on the fly.

Pence is hitting .193 as a Giant but his slump dates backquite a bit longer. Hes got a .188 average in 37 games beginning July 8.

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You never want to take your at-bats into the field, or viceversa. But you have to believe that Justin Christians amazing catch in theseventh inning provided a huge personal lift.

Christian is hitlessin his last 18 at-bats over 11 games.

Yeah, itsfrustrating, said Christian, who could find himself back in the minors soon ifthe Giants acquire a right-handed hitting upgrade in left field. Im a betterplayer than whats been happening on the hitting side, but defense is somethingthats easier to control. The hitting comes and goes. Its been a tough spotfor me, but you take the at-bats when they come and do the best you can. Youvegot to stay positive.

The catch was a positive in every way.

I was going to try to play it off the wall, saidChristian, who ran out of grass as he made a full-extension dive in the leftfield corner. As I continued to run, I realized I was getting a lot closerthan I thought. I took a chance at trying to make a play.

There was just one problem. Christian extended out so farwith his glove hand that his wrist hit the ground first. It was swollen and theGiants wont know the extent of the injury until Thursday. It might even putChristian on the disabled list, which could be the avenue that gets Xavier Nadyto the big leagues.

I jammed it pretty good, Christian said. I hope itsnothing major.

Cain was asked (hopefully in jest): Has a better catch everbeen made behind him?

Uhmmm this one guy made one pretty good one for me, saidCain, who might name his first-born son Gregor Blanco Cain after the man whosaved his perfect game. He made two, actually.

But that ones up there. I cant lie, because it was fullspeed. Everything was perfect on that catch.

And it helped preserve a near-perfect road trip.

Notes: Ex-Giants not getting much traction, not expected to return

Notes: Ex-Giants not getting much traction, not expected to return

SOMEWHERE IN THE AIR, United States — On the first day of the Winter Meetings, I discovered that my hotel room for the week was a few doors down from a section of rooms and suites dedicated to the Chicago Cubs. So either I have a lot of juice with Marriott or the Cubs have very little juice. 

They were a happy group as they came in and out, and for good reason. The Cubs are the reigning champions and they’re the heavy favorites going into 2017. Every other team at the Gaylord National Resort was chasing Theo Epstein and his guys. The Giants, after landing closer Mark Melancon, feel they have the firepower to compete with the Cubs. 

The Melancon move is the big one of the Giants’ offseason and it obscured just about everything else. Here are some other notes, quotes and rumors from five days at the Winter Meetings: 

--- Bobby Evans said the Aroldis Chapman deal ($86 million) came in right around where the Giants expected. The two sides never met in person, and while the Giants kept tabs on the Chapman market, he was always viewed as an unlikely choice. Part of that has to do with a 30-game suspension last season for a domestic violence incident. Evans said the off-field stuff was “not lost on us.” The Giants knew many of their fans were strongly opposed to a Chapman deal. 

“Our hearts and minds were really focused on one guy,” Evans said as he discussed the closer market. It was Melancon, and the Giants got the guy who will now head a bullpen that blew 30 saves during the regular season. 

Evans took some good-natured shots at that number, by the way. He pointed out that many of those “blown saves” came in the sixth or seventh innings and the Giants won a lot of those games. The more important number for the front office was ninth-inning blown saves that led to losses. The Giants lost nine such games, including five in September. 

“That’s the difference,” Evans said. “If you reduce that number to five or four, then that’s maybe the difference in your division.”

The Giants finished four games behind the Dodgers.

--- Joe Maddon said his biggest fear in the postseason was facing Johnny Cueto in Game 5.

--- Angel Pagan was not at the ballpark for the final game of the season. He had an injection in his injured back and was allowed to stay home to try and recover. The Giants told Pagan to prepare for a Game 5, but some team officials believe his postseason was probably over regardless of how far the Giants got. 

--- It was a little surprising, by the way, how little mention there was of Pagan and other Giants free agents. Pagan was briefly connected to the Orioles at one point but otherwise his name has not come up. There are no Gregor Blanco rumors, and nothing significant with Sergio Romo, Jake Peavy, Javier Lopez or Santiago Casilla. 

Giants people who have talked to Romo say he has at least a couple of offers and he’s confident he’ll find a good fit. Lopez is said to be headed for retirement unless an East Coast team (he lives in Georgia) makes a great offer. Peavy is said to be ready to fight for a job as a non-roster invitee in spring training. It seems the majority of the ex-Giants might have to go the non-roster route. Currently, none are expected to return to San Francisco. 

--- Gordon Beckham is technically a “Giants free agent” and several people in the clubhouse approacedh management to relay what a positive impact Beckham had in his week there. He is the kind of energetic, ball-busting presence that helps over a 162-game season, and everyone in the organization loved having him around, but they’re looking for power bats right now when it comes to the bench. 

--- Ramiro Pena is close to a deal to return as a non-roster invitee. The Giants will also add a catcher for Triple-A depth. They’re selecting from a group that includes former Dodgers and Cubs catcher Tim Federowicz. 

--- There will be new managers up and down the minor league system. The affiliates are expected to announce those choices soon. 

--- At the risk of wiping out a bunch of future "The Player to be Named Later has not been named" tweets, here's how it works: The Giants gave the Mariners a small list of prospects they'll watch in spring training, and they'll scout them and choose one player as the return for Chris Heston. It will not be a significant prospect. 

--- Under Armour will be the exclusive uniform provider of MLB starting in 2020, and all jerseys will have a small Under Armour logo on the chest. No exceptions, from the awful Diamondbacks jerseys to the Yankees pinstripes to the Giants. It was bound to happen eventually. The Giants have some of Under Armour’s most prominent baseball players, including Buster Posey, Brandon Belt and Joe Panik. 

--- The Giants never had any intention of pursuing a reunion with Pablo Sandoval. If they can add depth at third, they will, but for now Eduardo Nuñez is slated to be the opening day starter. Keep in mind, too, that Christian Arroyo will primarily play third base in the minors from now on. 

--- Bill Hayes, who was relieved of his duties as first-base coach, will stay with the big league staff. His exact role has not been determined. Roberto Kelly will not return in a different role. 

--- CSN did a bunch of one-on-one interviews this week, and two of them — Evans and Bruce Bochy — are available here as podcasts. If you’re a fan of the podcast, please consider hitting subscribe on iTunes. It’s good for the pod. 

--- In case you missed it: Here's an explanation of why the Giants are unlikely to add an expensive outfielder. The Giants currently have four players set for the WBC. Hensley Meulens will manage the Netherlands. Ryan Vogelsong helped Melancon choose the Giants. Bochy on if he has any postseason regrets. 

--- Melancon will be introduced at a 1 p.m. press conference on Friday. It will air on CSN Bay Area and you can stream it on this website. 
 

Wife of former Giants outfielder Andres Torres passes away

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Twitter/BengieMolina1

Wife of former Giants outfielder Andres Torres passes away

Former Giants outfielder Andres Torres lost his wife on Wednesday evening.

Soannie Torres passed away from cancer.

Andres played for the Giants from 2009 to 2011 and again in 2013.

During the Giants' World Series run in 2010, he hit .268 with 16 home runs and 63 RBI over 139 regular season games.

In the World Series against the Rangers, he batted .318 and hit a home run.

Torres was the 2010 winner of the Willie Mac Award, -- given annually to the Giants' most inspirational player.

To donate to the Soannie Torres Memorial Fund, click here.