Bleary-eyed Giants, Cardinals ready for NLCS, etc.


Bleary-eyed Giants, Cardinals ready for NLCS, etc.

SAN FRANCISCO -- To his best recollection, Bruce Bochyshead hit the pillow around 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning. The Giants manager knowsfor sure he was awake by 9.

So youll forgive a bout of momentary confusion, such as whensomeone asked him about sharing the Sunday spotlight in the Bay Area with the49ers.

Yeah, Bochy said. Who are the Giants playing again?

He smiled as he realized his mistake.

Well, it is a bit confusing. the 49ers are playing thefootball Giants. The St. Louis Cardinals are playing the baseball Giants. Andwe probably shouldnt confound the situation, but the football Cardinals areplaying the Buffalo Bills.

Heres the important part: Bochys Giants and Mike MathenysCardinals both landed at San Francisco International Airport past 5 a.m. aftera crazy, hazy night for both clubs.

The Cardinals got on a plane after coming back from a 6-0deficit, refusing to bow out 13 times when down to their final strike, andscoring four in the ninth to stun the Washington Nationals Saturday night atNationals Park.

The Giants, stuck in Cincinnati following their clinchingcelebration Thursday night, watched the Nats rattle off a big lead from ahospitality suite in their hotel. They left around the sixth inning and by thetime they boarded their plane, the game was in the ninth.

The timing was perfect, Bochy said. Everything was goingwell.

Players watched the game on their iPads and phones. Severalwives and girlfriends were calling with updates, since the Internet broadcastwas delayed by a few seconds.

Oh, it was funny, Posey said. It was a sight to see. AndIll tell you what, whoever made the call to wait until the end of the game,that was a good idea. I was ready to take off to DC.

But the Cardinals worked a series of impossibly tough, grindingat-bats against Nationals closer Drew Storen. Posey watched carefully, knowinghe might have to game-plan to get these hitters out in two days.

I love watching games this time of year, Posey said. If Ican pick up even something subtle, it can lead to an advantage. Thats the funthing about baseball. Each game is so different. You have to be able to changeas the game progresses. I enjoy the chess match, you could say, of makingadjustments game to game, at-bat to at-bat and even within an at-bat.

RATTO: Posey, Molina: Different version of same guy

The Cardinals won and the Giants, while not necessarilyrooting for either team, were glad to be going home.

There was just one problem: The plane only had enough fuelto go to Washington. So they had to wait for a refueling truck to arrive. Thenthey had an even bigger problem: A hydraulic system didnt pass the pre-checkinspection, and it took almost three hours to repair it.

Bochys wife watched a whole movie before the plane tookoff. Were assuming it wasnt Gandhi.

Darn shame, Bochy said. We were going to get in before2.

Instead, they beat the Cardinals flight to the tarmac byjust a few minutes. Hey, at least theyre all in the same boat. (Yes, thats amixed metaphor. Im sleep-deprived too, OK?)

Jeremy Affeldt threw off a bullpen mound and said he feltfine, but his left thumb was wrapped and his entire hand was immobilized in asplint that ran up his forearm.

Bochy didnt expect to have to replace Affeldt on the NLCSroster, which is due at 10 a.m. But the manager wasnt ruling anything out withhis calamitous lefty, who is more injury prone than Scooby Doo surrounded byball bearings and banana peels.

He thinks hell be back to normal, Bochy said. But hestill has to go home and cook or something tonight.

The Cardinals will not change their roster from the NLDS,Matheny said.

Matheny said the dugout even before the Cardinals begantheir comeback was borderline high school football in its intensity andrelentless positive energy.

And to think, they dont even have a Hunter Pence.

STUHLBARG: Beltran shies from pence comparison, expects 'crazy' fans

Someone sent Brandon Belt a video file of his play inCincinnati, when he dived into the stands chasing a foul ball. As Belt wasstretched out over the railing, a young lady seized the opportunity to slapBelts uh posterior.

I never even felt it, said Belt, who found the cliphilarious.

Posey told an interesting story. He said when he waslearning to catch his sophomore year at Florida State, nothing helped him morethan watching major league games on TV.

Id try to study how guys set up with runners on base, howthey framed pitches, Posey said.

When Posey arrived in big league spring training, what tapes did bullpen catcher Bill Hayes send to him?

"Old video of Matheny," Posey said. "Billy raved about the way he blocked balls."

OK, I lied. Heres one more gem from Game 5 in Cincinnati,courtesy of our Drew Shiller:

Buster Poseys grand slam landed in the second deck at GreatAmerican Ball Park, 434 feet away.

Poseys first career home run came June 9, 2010. It landedin the second deck at Great American Ball Park, 439 feet away.

That last one traveled 5 feet shorter, but carried him so much higher.

Mariners designate former Giants pitcher for assignment

Mariners designate former Giants pitcher for assignment

CHICAGO -- Chris Heston was hopeful a move to a new organization could give his career a jolt. It hasn't worked out that way.

The former Giant was designated for assignment on Wednesday by the Mariners, who earlier acquired an outfielder from the Astros and needed the roster spot. Heston was traded to Seattle at the winter meetings for a player to be named later. The Giants have not yet picked that player off a list the teams agreed to.

Heston had a 3.95 ERA as a starter for the Giants in 2015 and threw a no-hitter at Citi Field, but he had trouble transitioning to relief the next season and dealt with an injury in Triple-A. Needing a roster spot in December, the Giants traded him.

Heston started Sunday for Seattle and gave up six earned runs in three innings. He allowed five earned in two innings in his previous appearance.

Giants notes: Span feeling better, hopes to return to lineup Wednesday

Giants notes: Span feeling better, hopes to return to lineup Wednesday

CHICAGO -- Joe Panik's leadoff homer in the series opener was a jolt, but the Giants are a much more dangerous offense when Denard Span is clicking atop the lineup, a spot ahead of Panik, and they hope to have that duo going Wednesday. Span got treatment all day Tuesday and said he could return to the lineup against Kyle Hendricks. 

"The swelling has gone down," Span said of his sprained left thumb. "The thing to do is to come in tomorrow, test it out, and if it feels good, you strap it on."

Span said an X-ray came back clean, but he didn't grab a bat Tuesday to test the thumb, focusing instead on treatment. He is batting .326 in nine games since coming off the DL. His replacement in center this week, Gorkys Hernandez, was 0-for-3 against Jon Lester, lowering his average to .160. 

--- The main story from the second game of this series: Johnny Cueto is now dealing with a second blister, and you can see the lack of movement on his pitches. The Cubs took advantage. Lester didn't need much help while throwing a 99-pitch complete game in two hours and five minutes. 

"He threw a lot more changeups than we've seen in the past," Buster Posey said. "He's shown it in the past but tonight he had good command of it. It wasn't just a show-me pitch. He used it a lot and threw it to lefties as well.

Posey twice grounded short rollers in front of the plate.

--- Posey's throw to nab Javy Baez on Monday was one of the best of the year, and on Tuesday afternoon, Bruce Bochy said, "If he's given a chance, I don't think there's anyone better in the game." That might be true, but Willson Contreras is threatening to get into the conversation. He threw an 85 mph rocket to second in the fifth to nab Eduardo Nuñez. If you're wondering how Lester -- who flat-out has the yips about throwing to first base and doesn't do it -- has allowed just six stolen bases this season, look no further than his young catcher. Long-term, Contreras is the guy I would expect to compete with Posey for Gold Gloves. 

"Nuney, with his speed, can go," Bochy said. "Their catcher made a great throw. Put it right on the money."

--- From before Tuesday's game, what do the relievers think of the new hidden bullpen at Wrigley? And if you missed the Power Rankings the other day, the records are outdated, but there are updates in here on old friends Matt Duffy, Chris Heston, Tommy Joseph, Adalberto Mejia, Yusmeiro Petit and others. Petit in particular is incredible ... just keeps doing his thing. 

--- This play was made by the shortstop. That's good for the old UZR.