EXTRA BAGGS: Pence takes protection racket seriously, etc.

September 30, 2012, 5:17 am
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SAN DIEGO Hunter Pence reached 100 RBIs for the first timein his career with his three-run home run in the first inning Saturday night,but he wasnt doing handsprings in the clubhouse.

And not just because its bad form to celebrate a milestonefollowing a loss.

Its nice but you cant be too happy, said Pence, pointingout that hes getting tons of RBI chances because cleanup man Buster Posey hasbeen an on-base machine.

With Posey, theyre walking him a lot with runners on base.So its important that I have a good approach. Theres a reason Im gettingthese opportunities. To protect him, thats my job right now.

Everyone knows it: There will be times in the postseasonwhen Posey wont get anything to hit. Thatll be especially true if the Giantsface left-handed pitchers in the playoffs. Posey is hitting .431 against themthis season -- the highest average in the majors.

Yes, thats right. Posey is hitting .431 in 160 at-batsagainst left-handed pitching.

He did more damage Saturday against lefty Eric Stults. Poseywalked and also went 2-for-2 with a pair of singlesto raise his average to .337. He now has a larger lead over the Pirates AndrewMcCutchen, who saw his average fall to .329 despite hitting a walk-off home runagainst the Reds.
MCCUTCHEN WATCH: Slump halted, ground lost

Of course, for now, Melky Cabrera is still listed as theofficial leader with a .346 average. Thatll change after the 162ndgame, when hell no longer have enough plate appearances to qualify.

And in case you were wondering, yes, its theoreticallypossible for Posey to pass Cabreras average. Hell be off on Sunday, soassuming he gets 12 at-bats over the final three games at Dodger Stadium, hedneed nine hits to raise his average to .34586. That would nudge out Cabreras.34565, assuming you add an extra plate appearance to his total -- whichwouldve been the case if MLB and the union hadnt changed the rule atCabreras request.

Posey will get a break Sunday, but Bochy wont rest all hisregulars. For one, he wants to give Tim Lincecum a fighting chance at avoidinga career-worst 16th loss. For another, there are some regulars whowant the chance to continue to hone their swing. That includes Pence, who ishitting just .224 as a Giant but has 43 RBIs in 55 games.

Average is overrated to me, said Bochy, who probably won't trot out that same comment if Posey wins the batting title.

I like damage anddriving in runs," the manager continued. "Thats how you win ballgames. You talk about a guy whosknocked in 100 runs, its a great year and he did it in nice fashion there witha home run today.

If Pence can continue to do damage, that might get Posey afew more pitches to hit. And theres nothing wrong with that.

Aubrey Huff did not have a productive day, and not becausehe had a hitless at-bat off the bench.

Madison Bumgarner struggled in his four innings. And themore the starting pitchers struggle, the more likely itll be that Bochy keepsa 12-man pitching staff. Thatll make it tough to keep someone like Huff, whoessentially requires two roster spots because he needs a pinch runner.

A loyal reader gave me one heck of a news tip. He thought hesaw Brandon Belt and Bumgarner on the off day last Monday, kayaking around thebay near McCovey Cove. Their wives were in a double kayak while the two playerseach paddled solo.

I asked Belt today and he said yes, indeed, it was them. Thewhole thing was Belts idea. Bumgarner went along with it, but forget the swimtrunks and water shoes. He wore his blue jeans and cowboy boots. I only wish Ihad the pictures.

Apparel choices aside, they did the smart thing by ridingsolo. Every kayak guide knows those double-seaters by another name: divorceboats.