Cain will try to end history of Game 7 pain for Giants


Cain will try to end history of Game 7 pain for Giants

SAN FRANCISCO The Giants have never won a Game 7 in their128 years of dancing on diamonds. Theyll hand a freshly rubbed baseball andall their hopes to Matt Cain as they seek to outreach the St. Louis Cardinalsfor the NL pennant on Monday.

Could there be a more perfect choice?

What a remarkable follow-up it would be: Barely four monthsafter throwing the first perfect game in franchise history, Cain could becomethe first Giant to punch them through a Game 7 glass ceiling that has createdso many bad memories over the years.
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The Giants are 0-5 in their history in Game 7s. Theirshortcomings include a roaring red surge at Anaheim in the 2002 World Series,Bobby Richardson gloving Willie McCoveys line drive in the 1962 World Series and, most applicably given their current foe, Jose Oquendos three-run knockoutshot against Atlee Hammaker in the 1987 NLCS at old Busch Stadium.

(Doubtful anyone remembers that 4-3, 12-inning loss to theWashington Senators in Game 7 of the 1924 World Series, or that 3-2, 10-inningloss to the Boston Red Sox to decide it all in 1912. But they had to be cryingat Coogans Bluff back then.)

Cain, for all his postseason experience over the past threeyears, has never participated in a Game 7. The only current Giant who has isRyan Theriot, who was 0 for 5 amid the Cardinals World Series-clinchingvictory over Texas last year.

So this will be a new experience -- but perhaps not adaunting one for a team that already has won five elimination games thispostseason.

The Cardinals are tested, too, having won all six of theirelimination games over the past two postseasons. They stormed back from a 6-0deficit to win their NLDS Game 5 at Washington, too.

So even if the Giants race out to an early lead againstright-hander Kyle Lohse and theyre confident they will, after letting himoff the hook in Game 3 -- dont expect them to feel comfortable at any point.

Cains job is simple: Keep the ball in the park. Hesallowed four home runs in his three postseason starts, accounting for six ofthe nine runs hes allowed overall. Matt Carpenters two-run shot made thedifference in Game 3 at Busch Stadium and Carpenter is likely to be in thelineup again, if Matt Hollidays lower back issue keeps him out of the lineup.
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Weather is likely to play a huge factor, too, as theforecast calls for intermittent showers and winds up to 20 mph. It might comedown to which team plays the cleanest afield.

Cain was if hed ever had to pitch in a winner-take-all gamebefore.

My senior clear of high school, to go to state (finals)against our rival school, Cain said. But that didn't work out so well forme.

Eleven days ago, when he prepared to pitch atCincinnati in the deciding Game 5 of the NLDS, Cain said he thought of that long-ago game for Houston Highin Germantown, Tenn.

I know it's a long time in between, he said. But I triedto use that, go out there and still have fun with it, enjoy it, not put toomuch on to it.

If the old high school frame of reference sounds familiar, it should. Madison Bumgarner caused all kinds of snickers two years ago when he compared Game 4 of the World Series to his North Carolina highschool district championship game.

"I don't remember if I was one of those guys who madesome fun about it," said Cain, smiling. "I probably did. But that's in a way, that's alot of times what this game is. You almost have to revert back when youwere in Little League because the game is about having fun. And sometimeswhen you put too much on to it, it kind of ruins the moment for you and youdon't end up playing as well as you'd like to if you put too much pressure onyourself.

The Giants have avoided being blinded by that pressure sofar, but Game 7 tends to focus light like a magnifying glass. Even underdarkening, stormy skies.

We all know what situation we're in, Cain said. So it'snot really something that has to be said. But I think it really gets theguys together and gets them thinking, Let's go out there and leave it outthere.Whatever happens, happens."

Hundley still not ready to discuss future; Cain to start during final weekend

Hundley still not ready to discuss future; Cain to start during final weekend

PHOENIX — A few weeks ago, Nick Hundley said he preferred not to talk about his future until the end of the season. We’re close enough, so after hitting the go-ahead homer Monday night, Hundley was again asked about his 2018 plans. He smiled.

“How many have we got left? Five?” he said. “Ask me Sunday.”

It’s not just the media and fans seeking an answer from the popular backup who has nine homers. The Giants hope to get some feel from Hundley as they finalize offseason plans, and manager Bruce Bochy said he would talk to the veteran this week. Bochy left no doubt about what he hopes will happen.

“I think he knows what we think of him,” he said. 

Hundley, a 34-year-old who came over in the offseason, has been one of the few overachievers this season. He has 32 extra-base hits in 274 at-bats, taking advantage of increased time with Brandon Belt done for the year and Buster Posey sliding over to first base. Hundley is one of the lineup’s more potent right-handed options, and he has earned praise from the starting staff. Johnny Cueto said Hundley helped him navigate a post-clinch Diamondbacks lineup that was essentially pulled straight out of Triple-A. 

Cueto did so with ease, striking out eight in six innings. He evened his record at 8-8, and he’ll have a chance to clinch a winning season on Sunday. Bochy said Cueto will start the final game of the season, and he confirmed that Matt Cain will start either Friday or Saturday. Asked for more details, the manager kept it just as mysterious as his catcher. 

“I’ll let you know tomorrow,” he said.

Giants lineup: Pence leading off, lefties back in against D'backs

Giants lineup: Pence leading off, lefties back in against D'backs

After batting fourth on Sunday in Los Angeles, Hunter Pence is back in the leadoff spot in the series opener against Arizona.

Additionally, Denard Span, Joe Panik and Jarrett Parker return after sitting against Clayton Kershaw.

San Francisco Giants:
1. Hunter Pence (R) RF
2. Joe Panik (L) 2B
3. Denard Span (L) CF
4. Buster Posey (R) 1B
5. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
6. Pablo Sandoval (S) 3B
7. Jarrett Parker (L) LF
8. Nick Hundley (R) C
9. Johnny Cueto (R) P

Arizona Diamondbacks:
1. Gregor Blanco (L) LF
2. Kristopher Negron (R) SS
3. Brandon Drury (R) 2B
4. Christian Walker (R) 1B
5. Rey Fuentes (L) CF
6. Adam Rosales (R) 3B
7. Jeremy Hazelbaker (L) RF
8. John Ryan Murphy (R) C
9. Zack Godley (R) P