SAN FRANCISCO -- Bruce Bochyis keeping his cards close to the vest when it comes to the Giants' playoff rotation. But he did confirm that Madison Bumgarner will start Game 2 Sunday at AT&T Park after Matt Cain takes the ball inthe opener against the Cincinnati Reds.
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You look at the years that Matt and Madison have had,thats why theyre going Game 1 and Game 2, Bochy said Thursday afternoon ashe watched his players work out at AT&T Park. We feel like thesetwo have earned these starts and thats why theyre out there.Cain and Bumgarner tied for the team lead with 16 wins apiece, with the formerposting a rotation-leading and career-best 2.79 ERA and 193 strikeouts. WhileCain beat up on other NL Central opponents, including a perfect game against theHouston Astros, he allowed eight runs in 13 innings against the Reds. Histeammate, left-handed reliever Jeremy Affeldt, isnt worried though.When he faced them the last few times, I think he had some pitches working forhim, but he didnt have the other pitches working for him, Affeldt said. Fromwhat Ive seen his last few outings out, he seems to be controlling hisoff-speed and his fastball pretty well. And hes not afraid to throw whateverin any count. So I think that Matt doesnt really shy down to any kind ofopponent, no matter how hes faced them before.Just as Affeldt endorsed Cain, outfielder Hunter Pence did the same for BochysGame 2 choice.Bumgarners pitched excellent, Pence said. Every one of our pitchers hasdone a good job and earned a spot. Our pitching is a big reason why we won theNL West.Pence came to the Giants in a deadline deal and, unlike many of his newteammates, has faced Bumgarner before. In fact, Pence has three hits, includingtwo solo home runs, in just five at-bats against the Giants young lefty. Pencetold Comcast SportsNets Amy Gutierrez what makes Bumgarner so effective.Hes got a really good angle; just a lot of movement. Hesgot a real good cutter. His long leverage is something unique that you dontsee very often. Hes got a lot of deception.Deception is something Bochy knows a little something about, considering hetold beat reporters after Wednesdays regular-season finale in Los Angeles that hed announce his fullplayoff rotation after Thursdays workout. He quickly changed his mind.Well announce the rest of the rotation a little later,Bochy said. Obviously, we want to talk to the guys. Really, thats where wereat right now. The candidates to start Game 3 are Tim Lincecum, RyanVogelsong or Barry Zito and Bochy said that all three could come out of hisbullpen in the best-of-five National League Division Series.We want to keep our options open for games three, four andfive, Bochy said. We may have to switch the order, so instead of setting itright now, we just decided to announce Game 1 and Game 2.Zito, who has six relief appearances in his Giants careerbut none in his Athletics tenure, said he is ready for whatever Bochy needs himfor. Were all flexible here; weve all shown that we can pitchin various roles, said Zito, who has allowed five runs in six innings as areliever. If Im on a mound, Im on a mound and I look forward to that.Bochy masterfully managed his bullpen en route to a World Series win in 2010and has been put to the test in 2012 because closer Brian Wilson was lost for theseason in early April. But his closer-by-committee approach has been workingand he has no intention of fixing what aint broke.Well use everybody and theyve done a great job doing it,Bochy said. We now have at least one long guy to help us in the bullpen andgive us coverage there. Im not going to really make any changes now becauseits been working. Sergio Romo, Javier Lopez, Jeremy Affeldt and Santiago Casilla willall be used in the eighth and ninth and maybe the seventh; and well have astarter to help out.There arent many more mysteries surrounding Bochys playoff plans. Although hehas not made it official, its safe to assume Gregor Blanco will start in leftover Xavier Nady in Games 1 and 2 with the Reds starting right-handed pitchers.But after that, if he decides to use Hector Sanchez to catch Tim Lincecumandor Barry Zito, theres a chance that Brandon Belt could shift to left withBuster Posey playing first base. Belt has played just 27.1 innings in theoutfield this season compared to nearly 1,000 at first base. But, like Zito,hes prepared for any assignment.If that scenariodoes arise, Ill be ready for it, Belt said.If Belt starts all three necessary games in the NLDS, hellhave surpassed his managers postseason playing experience at the tender age of 24.Bochy amassed just two career playoff at-bats, one in 1980 with Houston and another in 1984 with San Diego. That gives him a perspective hewants to pass down to his players.You cherish it; its what you play for. These guys haveearned that. This is when the fun begins.