Holliday, weather loom as threats for Giants in Game 3


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."

Cubs come alive behind Schwarber, Arrieta; World Series tied 1-1


Cubs come alive behind Schwarber, Arrieta; World Series tied 1-1


CLEVELAND -- Jake Arrieta made a teasing run at history, Kyle Schwarber drove in two runs and the Chicago Cubs brushed off a shutout to even the World Series with their first Fall Classic win in 71 years, 5-1 over the Cleveland Indians in Game 2 on Wednesday night.

Arrieta carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning, briefly invoking Don Larsen's name, before the Indians touched him for two hits and a run. However, the right-hander helped give Chicago just what it needed - a split at Progressive Field - before the Cubbies return to their Wrigley Field den for the next three games starting Friday night.

The Cubs hadn't won in the Series since beating Detroit 8-7 in 1945 to force Game 7.

The free-swinging Schwarber, who made it back for Chicago's long-awaited Series return after missing most of the season with an injured left knee, hit an RBI single in the third off Cleveland's Trevor Bauer and had another in the Cubs' three-run fifth - highlighted by Ben Zobrist's run-scoring triple.

Even the presence of star LeBron James and the NBA champion Cavaliers, sporting their new rings, couldn't stop the Indians from losing for the first time in six home games this postseason.

And Cleveland manager Terry Francona's magical touch in October finally fizzled as he dropped to 9-1 in Series games.

With rain in the forecast, Major League Baseball moved the first pitch up an hour in hopes of avoiding delays or a postponement.

It turned out to be a good call as the game went on without a hitch and ended after more than four hours as light rain was beginning to fall.

Arrieta and the Cubs provided the only storm.

The bearded 30-year-old coasted through five innings without allowing a hit, the first pitcher to get that deep in a Series game with a no-hitter since David Cone of the New York Yankees in 1998.

For a brief period, Arrieta looked as if he might challenge Larsen's gem - a perfect game - in 1956 before Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, a die-hard Cubs fan as a kid, doubled with one out in the sixth.

Before that, Cleveland hitters had a couple good swings, and drew three walks, but couldn't mount a real threat. Arrieta has two career no-hitters, in fact, including the only one in the majors this year.

Cubs lefty Mike Montgomery replaced Arrieta and worked two scoreless innings before Aroldis Chapman came in and unleashed his 103 mph heat while getting the last four outs.

The teams will have an off day before the series resumes with Game 3 at Wrigley, which will host its first Series game since Oct. 6, 1945, when tavern owner Billy Sianis was asked to leave with his pet goat, Murphy, and a curse was born.

Josh Tomlin will start for the Indians, who will lose the designated hitter in the NL ballpark, against Kyle Hendricks.

Schwarber might also wind up on the bench after two days as the DH.

With a gametime temperature of 43, the weather was more fitting for the Browns and Bears to bang heads than the boys of summer.

The Cubs were the ones who came up thumping after being blanked 6-0 in Game 1 by Corey Kluber and Cleveland's shut-down bullpen.

Zobrist's one-out triple triggered the fifth as the Cubs opened a 5-0 lead, not that Arrieta needed it.

After Anthony Rizzo walked following a 10-pitch at-bat, Zobrist laced a ball off Zach McAllister that was going to be a double until right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall slipped and fell. Rizzo was waved around and Zobrist hustled into third.

Schwarber followed with his second RBI and reliever Bryan Shawn later walked No. 9 hitter Addison Russell with the bases loaded.

Unlike his start in Toronto on Oct. 17, when his stitched cut opened up and Bauer was forced to make a bloody departure in the first inning, his finger held up fine.

The Cubs, though, put a few nicks in him in 3 2/3 innings.

The drone accident has brought attention to the quirky Bauer, and one Chicago fan tried to rattle the right-hander by sending a smaller version of the remote-controlled, flying object that cut him.

Bauer posted a photo of it on Twitter, saying "I see the (at)Cubs fans love me! How nice of them to send me a gift!"

The Cubs, who were off balance from the start against Kluber, scored their first run in a Series game since `45 in the first on Rizzo's RBI double.

Bauer needed 51 pitches to get through two innings, and he was one strike from getting out of the third unscathed when Chicago turned a walk and to singles into a 2-0 lead.

Cubs: Hendricks is coming off his brilliant performance in Game 5 of the NLCS when he pitched two-hit ball for seven innings as the Cubs clinched their first pennant in 71 years. The right-hander went 16-8 during the regular season with a league-leading 2.13 ERA.

Indians: It will be an emotional night for Tomlin, who will pitch on 12 day's rest with his ailing father, Jerry, in attendance. The elder Tomlin became stricken with a spinal condition in August, when Tomlin was struggling on the mound. The right-hander more than recovered and rescued Cleveland's rotation in the postseason, winning both starts.

Giants catching prospect Garcia relishing reps in Arizona Fall League


Giants catching prospect Garcia relishing reps in Arizona Fall League

After the Giants selected him in the second round of the 2014 MLB Draft, catcher Aramis Garcia quickly opened eyes with his power. Garcia totaled 15 home runs between Rookie Ball and Short Season Single-A in only 28 games after the draft. 

The next year, Garcia equaled his 15 long balls and spent the majority of his first full pro season at High Single-A. He also improved overall as a hitter, raising his 2014 slash line of .225/.301/.343 to .264/.342/.431 in 2015. Garcia's promotion to the next rung in the farm system ladder -- the Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels -- was derailed by a rough injury. 

He sustained a facial fracture in May while sliding into second base, taking a knee to the face in an attempt to break up a double play. The injury kept him out until the end of July and limited Garcia to 47 games in 2016.

When the chance to play in the Arizona Fall League for the Scottsdale Scorpions arose, Garcia jumped at the opportunity. 

"First thing I did was call my parents and let them know," Garcia told MLB.com on Monday. "I was just really excited for getting the opportunity to play against guys who are extremely talented and obviously make up for reps, which are extremely important."

Garcia never did exactly find his rhythm after the injury and finished the season batting .257/.323/.340 with two homers in 41 games. In the first half, the 23-year-old hit .298/.359/.369 compared to a lowly .200/.273/.300 in the second half. 

The catcher known more for his offense than defense is off to a slow start at the plate while facing some of the top prospects in baseball. Through six games, he has gone 3-for-17 at the plate, good for a .176 average. But, Garcia acknowledged he's focusing heavily on his defense in the AFL. 

"I feel like when somebody tries to steal on me, I tend to take it a little bit personally," he said. "It's definitely something I take pride in, something I work on hard every day. There's a little routine I do with receiving and footwork, things like that every day."

Behind the dish, Garcia caught 38 percent of base runners looking to swipe a bag on him last season. Through his three years in the minors, Garcia has erased 34 percent of base stealers and owns a .993 fielding percentage.