Holliday, weather loom as threats for Giants in Game 3

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Holliday, weather loom as threats for Giants in Game 3

ST. LOUIS Whats the most important matchup in Game 3 ofthe NLCS Wednesday night?

Matt Holliday vs. Matt Cain? Buster Posey vs. Kyle Lohse?Marco Scutaro vs. the Wabash Cannon Ball railway?

Nope. Its that giant green blob smack dab in the middle of the North American Doppler radar map. And the timing of its arrival over Busch Stadium could havea major impact on this series.

As of Wednesday morning, forecasts called for the game tobegin on time at 3 p.m. CDT, with heavy rain moving in anywhere from an hour tothree hours after the scheduled first pitch.

If both starters get iced out by a long delay, then Game 3could become a battle of long relief. Thats why Giants manager Bruce Bochyhasnt named Tim Lincecum his starter yet for Game 4; he could be forced to useLincecum in case Cain gets too heated up to bring back, but there remain toomany innings to bridge.

As it stands, the matchup of Cain and the Cardinals KyleLohse match the two best pitchers during the regular season for both clubs.

Cain was 16-5 with a 2.79 ERA that ranked fourth in the NLand a 1.04 WHIP that ranked second. Lohse was 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA (fifth) and1.09 WHIP (fourth).

Both pitchers work quickly and tend to get their teams backin the dugout without delay, and theyll be more motivated than ever to hustlein an effort to beat the rain.

Cain was up and down this postseason against the CincinnatiReds while Lohse has been on more of a roll. He kept the Cardinals alive in thewild card knockout game, pitching them past the Braves who had won 23consecutive starts by Kris Medlen, a modern record, before St. Louis endedAtlantas season.

Hunter Pence has seen plenty of Lohse over his career,owning a .295 average but no home runs in 44 at-bats. In fact, the only Giantwho has a career homer off Lohse is the injured Freddy Sanchez, for what itsworth.

Marco Scutaro is in the lineup at second base, but if heneeds to exit because of his sore hip and knee, Ryan Theriot is a 12-for-22hitter (.545) with two doubles and two triples against Lohse.

As for Cain, he like every other human being to stand on amound -- will have to be careful with Carlos Beltran, who is 7 for 18 (.389)with a homer, two doubles and a triple. Jon Jay has been a tough matchup withfour hits in six at-bats.

But the focus will be on Holliday, whose takeout slide sentScutaro to the MRI chamber in Game 2.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy has declared the incident overand Scutaro said he only wants his pitchers to exact revenge by pitching nineinnings of shutout baseball. So Cain probably wont mete out any countryhardball justice.

But as Ryan Vogelsong demonstrated in Game 2, you have tobust Holliday inside to be successful, and Cain had no fears about doing that regardless of what intent people might put on it if he misses too far in.

You have to go out and pitch your game, Cain said. Ifsomething gets away from you inside, it gets away. Thats part of the game. Youvegot to pitch in and youve got to pitch away. You cant have a fear of doingthat.

Holliday is 8 for 40 (.200) against Cain with three homeruns.

One of those homers was the first Cain allowed in his bigleague career. Holliday was the fourth batter he faced in his debut, Aug. 29,2005 against the Colorado Rockies.

The two havent stopped battling since then.

Ive always been a guy whos going to challenge him and hesa guy whos going to challenge you at the plate, Cain said. Hes not afraidto swing the bat. So sometimes it depends on (whether) you throw the ball whereyou want to, because if you dont, he swings hard and hes going to takeadvantage of it. And its usually not going to be for a little sloppy single."

Former top prospect Andy Marte dies from car accident in Dominican Republic

Former top prospect Andy Marte dies from car accident in Dominican Republic

Former major leaguer Andy Marte died early Sunday from a traffic accident in his native Dominican Republic.

Metropolitan traffic authorities say Marte died when the Mercedes Benz he was driving hit a house along a road between San Francisco de Macoris and Pimentel, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) north of the capital.

Marte, a 33-year-old infielder, played for several Major League teams, including Atlanta, Cleveland and Arizona, and was most recently playing in the Korean league.

Marte was playing in the Dominican winter league with the Aguilas Cibaenas team.

"We have awoken this Sunday with this sad news that we have lost a special being," club president Winston Llenas said in a statement about Marte.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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.”