EXTRA BAGGS: Wilson's new ink -- Johnny Cash


EXTRA BAGGS: Wilson's new ink -- Johnny Cash

DENVER Brian Wilson got a new tattoo over the winter.

You know that famous photo of Johnny Cash? The one takenduring a sound check at Folsom Prison? The one where hes sending a special,one-fingered message to the photographer?

Yep. Its on Wilsons calf. In remarkable detail, too.

So Wilson wont need a knee-jerk response whenever hesasked if hes healthy. He can just point to his calf. Message received.

Wilson insisted during the spring that hes fine. Heinsisted his back and hip are fine. His elbow, too. But he knows there will bedoubts among fans and the media. He is adamant that he will answer all thequestions through his performance.

But rough save conversions like his ninth-inning escapadeThursday wont make the questions go away. Wilson only cracked 90 mph a fewtimes and looked totally out of sorts on a few pitches after what the Giantsdescribed as a tweaked left ankle on a delivery to Tyler Colvin.

Some of that velocity drop can be explained by the fact thatWilson was pitching on a second consecutive day something he did just once inthe spring. Wilson is known to throw all sliders or all cutters in an outing,just for kicks. He did hit 94 mph when he needed to hump up and blow a pitchpast Wilin Rosario, which he did while striking him out.

Can Wilson be the elite force the Giants have relied upon inthe ninth inning? Well, Im not sure hell be as durable. He wont be availablein the home opener Friday because Bruce Bochy doesnt want to use him on athird consecutive day. Everyones durability is questioned over a long season.Wilson will be tested, too.

But there is something about him, however he might be compromised,that keeps him successful in that role. And he does tend to get lucky when hemost needs it. When second baseman Emmanuel Burriss snared Todd Heltonsbases-loaded line drive, it reminded me of the Carlos Ruiz liner from theclinching, Game 6 victory in the 2010 NLCS.

Given what weve seen, Id say sure. Theres every reason tobe a bit skittish about Brian Wilson. But dont be surprised if he finds a wayto get the job done. Or if he points to his new tattoo when you ask him aquestion.

Bochy liked the way Buster Posey came through his firststart since he was diagnosed with shingles. It likely will take a few days(maybe weeks) before Poseys energy level is back to 100 percent. But hesplayable, and hell start behind the plate for Fridays home opener.

I had no concerns, Bochy said. He caught very well. Hellbe back in there tomorrow.

Javier Lopez has stranded five runners in his threeappearances, including two when he got Carlos Gonzalez to hit a broken-batground out in the eighth. Lopez is such a weapon in that bullpen, Bochy said,and nobody knows it better than him.

Madison Bumgarners 117 pitches were the fourth most hesthrown in a start in his career. Im not sure thats a good idea for a22-year-old making his second start of the season. But dont put all the blameon Bochy. He couldnt have foreseen Colvin working Bumgarner for a13-pitch at-bat to end the leftys day.

For a pitcher, Bumgarner is pretty darn good at turning arounda quality fastball. He was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts against Jamie Moyer, butwhen he batted against hard-throwing lefty Rex Brothers in the eighth,Bumgarner took him deep. Almost deep enough. His fly ball was caught on thetrack in dead center.

Brothers might be one of the nastiest relievers in the NL.Bumgarner might have preferred facing him to Moyer.

That was pretty cool getting to throw against him, saidBumgarner, of the man who had over 100 big league starts before he was born. Ican see why hes successful. Thats tough to hit.

The Giants averaged 5.5 runs on the road trip, but the signs are more encouraging than that. It seems hitters are working deeper counts and drawing walks, and yes, that includes Aubrey Huff. Brandon Crawford is showing he can hit lefties. Nate Schierholtz gets a start and pops two home runs. And Melky Cabrera looks like he'll make an everyday impact. He hit safely in all six games on the trip, getting multiple hits in four of them. (No, the Giants do not miss Jonathan Sanchez.)

Now they just need to get their leadoff man on base. If Angel Pagan can't do it, Gregor Blanco will get a chance.

As I await my flight out of Denver, I see that snow is inthe forecast for this weekend. Thank you, baseball and weather gods!

No Indians first pitch for 'Wild Thing' in World Series


No Indians first pitch for 'Wild Thing' in World Series

CLEVELAND -- Wild Thing will have to stay in the bullpen during the World Series.

While actor Charlie Sheen, who played Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn in the movie "Major League" offered to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before one of this year's World Series games, Major League Baseball said the choices have already been made.

A spokesman told the AP on Friday that MLB has worked with the Indians to identify "former franchise greats" to throw out the first pitch for the games in Cleveland. An announcement is expected early next week.

The Indians host Games 1 and 2 on Tuesday and Wednesday. If necessary, Cleveland will host Games 6 and 7 on Nov. 1-2.

There had been a movement by fans on social media for Sheen to throw the first pitch and be part of the pregame festivities.

Sheen got wind of the buzz and responded on Twitter, posting a photo of himself as Vaughn in his Indians uniform and wrote, "Major League continues to be the gift that keeps on giving! if called upon, I'd be honored."

Sheen made an appearance during the playoffs at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday when the Chicago Cubs beat Los Angeles in Game 4 of the NL Championship Series.

Released in 1989, "Major League" is a fictional account of the Indians finishing in first place with an unconventional group of players including Vaughn, who struggled to find the strike zone and warmed up to "Wild Thing," a No. 1 hit song in 1966 by The Troggs.

The real Cleveland Indians, who overcame injuries to win the AL Central, before knocking off Boston and Toronto in the playoffs, took a page from "Major League" this season.

Slugger Mike Napoli and second baseman Jason Kipnis constructed a shrine in an empty clubhouse stall between their lockers like one in the movie. In the film, character Pedro Cerrano practices Voodoo and prays to an idol named, "Jobu" to help him hit curveballs.

Like Cerrano, Napoli and Kipnis have their own "Jobu" and have left gifts, including small bottles of rum and cigars, to keep them out of hitting slumps.

Cubs homer twice in win over Dodgers; tie NLCS 2-2


Cubs homer twice in win over Dodgers; tie NLCS 2-2


LOS ANGELES -- Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell and the rest of the Chicago Cubs' bats broke out in a big way.

Rizzo homered and ended a postseason slump with three RBIs, Russell's two-run drive highlighted a four-run fourth that stopped Chicago's 21-inning scoreless streak, and the Cubs routed the Los Angeles Dodgers 10-2 on Wednesday to even the NL Championship Series at 2-all.

Kenta Maeda is set to pitch for the Dodgers in Game 5 on Thursday against Jon Lester. Before the game, manager Dave Roberts said he will not start Clayton Kershaw on short rest after the Los Angeles ace threw a bullpen session Wednesday.

Chicago ensured the NLCS will return to Wrigley Field for Game 6 Saturday.

To break out of his prolonged slump, Rizzo used teammate Matt Szczur's bat.

"I know Szczur's bat has a lot of hits in it," Rizzo said. "I've done it a few times this year, just switching up the bat, switching up the mindset."

Following consecutive shutout losses, the Cubs rapped out 13 hits on an 80-degree night with the warm Santa Ana winds fluttering the flags in center field.

Rizzo and Russell had three hits each. Chicago's 3-4-5 hitters - a combined 2 for 32 in the first three games - busted out. Every Cubs starter got at least one hit except Kris Bryant, who walked twice.

"Today was a must-win for us," Ben Zobrist said.

Los Angeles was limited to six hits and made four errors in a game that dragged on for 3 hours, 58 minutes.

Mike Montgomery won in relief of John Lackey, who was chased after consecutive walks opening the fifth. Four days shy of his 38th birthday, Lackey allowed two runs, three hits and three walks.

Julio Urias, at 20 years, 68 days the youngest postseason starting pitcher in major league history, gave up four runs and four hits in 3 2/3 innings. He was the third consecutive left-hander to start the series for Los Angeles.

Chicago rattled off three straight hits to open the fourth, sparked by Zobrist's leadoff bunt single to third.

"With the way that our bats were swinging it at the beginning of the game, we just had to do anything we could. That was my thought process," Zobrist said. "I felt like if he threw a strike, I could get one down in a good spot and was able to do it.

He took second on Javier Baez's single to left, and Willson Contreras followed with a single to nearly the same spot in shallow left, scoring Zobrist.

Baez moved up to third and Contreras took second on left fielder Andrew Toles' errant throw to the plate that skidded all the way to the backstop.

Jayson Heyward hit a run-scoring groundout, and Russell followed with his first extra-base hit since Sept. 30 and his first homer since Sept. 19. He jubilantly pumped an arm as he rounded the bases on his two-run drive, which put the Cubs ahead 4-0.

Rizzo homered off Pedro Baez leading off the fifth, snapping his 0-for-11 skid in the series. Rizzo had entered 2 for 26 in the postseason.

Los Angeles closed to 5-2 in the fifth. With the bases loaded and one out, Justin Turner's likely double-play grounder caromed off Montgomery's outstretched glove and Russell, who scrambled on all fours at shortstop as the ball went into left-center field for a two-run single.

Chicago tacked on five runs in the sixth off relievers Ross Stripling and Luis Avilan. Dexter Fowler singled in the first run, Rizzo added two more on a bases-loaded single and Javier Baez hit a sacrifice fly, with a second run scoring on an error by center fielder Joc Pederson.


Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez was tagged out at home to end the second. A sliding Gonzalez stretched his left hand toward the tip of the plate as catcher Contreras applied the tag with his left hand near Gonzalez's upper left arm.

The Dodgers challenged Angel Hernandez's call, which was upheld on video review. That drew online scorn from Washington star Bryce Harper.

"He was safe! Replay system still broke..Same thing all year long! (hashtag)DontMessItUp," Harper tweeted.


Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully will attend Thursday's game, his first time back at Dodger Stadium since calling his last home game on Sept. 25. The 88-year-old ended his 67-year career this month with the regular-season finale at San Francisco.


Cubs reliever Carl Edwards Jr. left in the seventh because of left hamstring tightness.


Ashton Kutcher and wife Mila Kunis announced the Dodgers' starting lineup. Also on hand were Rob Lowe, Charlie Sheen, George Lopez, Larry King and Mary Hart.


Lester allowed one run in six innings of Game 1 in the series, getting a no-decision in Chicago's 8-4 victory. ... Maeda has a 9.00 ERA in two postseason appearances. He allowed three runs and four hits in four innings of the NLCS opener and didn't factor in the decision.