EXTRA BAGGS: Cards will come packed, Pence done speaking, etc.


EXTRA BAGGS: Cards will come packed, Pence done speaking, etc.


ST. LOUIS Take this for what its worth:

The Cardinals instructed their players to arrive at BuschStadium for Game 5 on Friday with their bags packed in case the series shiftsback to San Francisco.

Two years ago, Giants manager Bruce Bochy did the oppositewhen the Giants needed a win in the final regular-season game to clinch the NLWest. A loss and the team wouldve been forced into a one-game playoff at SanDiego the following day.

Bochy told his players to bring themselves, and nothingelse.

It was a bold stroke bolder now, with time and perspective.

Oh, we wouldve been scrambling, Bochy has said, on morethan one occasion.

Make no mistake about it: The Giants are scrambling now.They must rattle off three consecutive victories to claim the NL pennant, andwhile they already accomplished the same Heartbreak Hill climb in Cincinnati,there is more lactic acid in their legs now. And generals on horseback can onlydeliver a war speech once.

Remember the Maine! Remember the Alamo! Remember GreatAmerican Ball Park!

(Actually, the Maine exploded and sank and everyone died atthe Alamo. Who comes up with these depressing rallying cries, again? Anyway, you get the premise.)

We believed we could do it in Cincinnati, Giantsleft-hander Jeremy Affeldt said. I dont see any reason why we shouldntbelieve now.

I dont expect those guys over there will think anything iswrapped up yet, and we wont let anything be wrapped up. We wont roll over.Thats not our nature. We showed that in Cincinnati. It can be dangerous toplay a team that has that type of mentality.

Until the first pitch Friday night, the only things theCardinals will wrap up are their shaving kits.

We're coming here packed," Cardinals third basemanDavid Freese said. "Hopefully, we can unpack."

The Giants will have to find a new motivational speaker.Hunter Pence is out of things to say.

Probably not, said Pence, asked if he planned anotherfiery oration before Game 5. Its ran its course. I didnt have the firstspeech prepared (before Game 3 in Cincinnati). It just happened.

Who knows who might speak? Who knows what happens when yourbacks against the wall?

I asked Buster Posey, the NL batting champion and likelyMVP: Would he take the floor?

I think we all know at this point what its going to take,Posey said.

Funny how baseball works. Amid all the hand wringing aboutgetting Posey pitches to hit, there was the underlying assumption that hedknow what to do with them.

But you look up and Posey is hitting .183 in the postseason,and aside from his grand slam off Mat Latos in Cincinnati, hes driven in justone run.

He was 0 for 4 with three fly outs against Adam Wainwright,who really did spin one of the better games youll see pitched this postseason.Wainwright even said his curveball might have broken better than it ever has,which is quite a statement.

I had a few pitches to hit, Posey told me.

Are these empty games beginning to take a mental toll onhim?

Well, personally, there have been some frustrating times,he said. But at this point, its all about winning. Weve still got life andthats the main thing.

What does manager Bruce Bochy make of Posey, who is 2 for 14with no runs, no RBIs and no extra-base hits in the NLCS?

Hes such a good hitter, and the bar is set so high withBuster, Bochy said. You go a game or two without a hit and the questions aregoing to be asked. But hes fine. Theyre making good pitches. Theyre beingcareful with him. We know it and he knows it.

When the playoffs began, I thought the Reds were the mosttalented team, top to bottom, in the National League. But the Cardinals are notlight on power arms in their bullpen, either. They have experience if notdominance in their rotation and their lineup just has a way of grinding down anopponent that the Reds did not.

"They do havesomething going, no getting around that, with what they did last year and thisyear, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

We have all the confidence in Barry (Zito) tomorrow. Wehave to get these bats going, though. Theyre shutting us down. It would benice, make life a little easier, to get some runs for our staff.

As third base coach Tim Flannery said in Cincinnati, theGiants needed something weird to happen, they needed a big pitchingperformance, they needed at least one game when the runs flowed and they neededto pull out at least one in the late innings to run the table. All of thosethings happened.

This time, it might be simpler: They need to bring thisseries home, where Ryan Vogelsong and Matt Cain offer authentic hope.

We worked hard to be here, Pence said. We played verywell to be here. Thats the way Ill continue to look at it. Zito has beentremendous for us. Weve got to find a way to get tomorrow, and if we can gohome with Vogelsong and Cain, were feeling pretty confident.

If the Cardinals clinch in Game 5, they can hang their haton this: Theyll break the Giants streak of 12 consecutive victories when Zitotakes the mound.

Of course, thats not so impressive when youve already beatenAtlanta and Kris Medlen in the wild card knockout game and the Braves had wona major league record 23 consecutive games with Medlen on the mound.

The Cardinals will come packed. The Giants had better pack alunch.

Giants spring training Day 13: Cain goes two; Melancon has perfect debut

Giants spring training Day 13: Cain goes two; Melancon has perfect debut

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Bruce Bochy planned to give most of his pitchers one-inning stints during the first weekend of spring ball, but Matt Cain stretched it out to 40 pitches on Saturday. 

“I’ve had enough days off the past couple of years,” Cain said, smiling.

In his first start of a crucial spring, Cain threw two innings. He was charged with three hits and two runs, just one of them earned. 

“He’s in a good place right now with his arm strength,” Bochy said. “His delivery is consistent. I’m glad he got a lot of work today, to be honest. It’s something he needs as much as anybody on this staff, is work. He’s going to get it.”

Ty Blach, Cain’s biggest competition for the fifth starter spot, gave up four hits and one earned in his two innings. Neither pitcher was hit particularly hard, and both suffered a bit from iffy defense in the early innings of an 8-6 win over the Cubs. 

The inning separating Cain and Blach was notable for other reasons. Mark Melancon made his Giants debut, getting two groundouts and a fly to right in a quick inning. Melancon received a nice ovation, and he noted the opponent — a Cubs team that helped guarantee the Giants would spend big on a closer — but he didn’t put any added importance on the outing. 

“It doesn’t matter what I do out there right now,” he said. 

Melancon’s new teammates might disagree. Spring or not, the Giants certainly enjoyed watching a closer breeze through his inning. Especially against the Cubs. 

“He’s a pro,” Bochy said. “He’s going to be out there working on stuff, his command and pitches. It was good for Buster (Posey) to catch him. It was a good day for him.”

NOTABLE: On his first swing of the spring, Posey threw his bat up against the visiting dugout. It can only go uphill from there … Bryan Morris had a scoreless debut, striking out one … Josh Osich ran into some trouble in the eighth and gave up a pair of runs, but Bochy appreciated the way he fought his way out of the frame … Former Giants prospect Chris Dominguez started for the Cubs at first base. He had a couple of hits ... If you're headed to Goodyear for tomorrow's game, Joe Panik, Brandon Belt, Conor Gillaspie, Jimmy Rollins, Mac Williamson, Jarrett Parker, Gorkys Hernandez and Trevor Brown will start behind Matt Moore. Also, if you're headed to Goodyear, I'm sorry. 

TRAINER’S ROOM: Eduardo Nuñez is limited to DH duty for now because of a sore throwing shoulder. Nuñez said the tightness popped up after some work in the weight room, but he’s not concerned at all. He said he would have played third base if Saturday’s game was a regular season contest. The Giants expect him in the field sometime next week. 

Nuñez also said it took five weeks after the season ended for his hamstring to get back to 100 percent, so apparently that injury was much worse than it first looked. Nuñez was out on the field before every NLDS game, trying to get clearance to return. He never quite got there. 

Will Smith (elbow) is just a day or two from throwing off flat ground, Bochy said. 

CUETO UPDATE: The Giants had hoped to have Johnny Cueto in camp this weekend, but he remains in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic. Cueto is waiting for a visa for his ill father, Domingo, who will travel to Scottsdale with Johnny. 

LIGHTER SIDE: Brandon Crawford spent a couple of minutes learning some of Jeff Samardzija’s mound moves. The impersonation is pretty solid. 

Giants rookie Hwang goes opposite field for first spring homer

Giants rookie Hwang goes opposite field for first spring homer

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Jae-gyun Hwang spent his final season in Korea focusing on not flipping his bat. The excitement of his first home run in a Giants uniform nearly scuttled that plan.

“If I would have known it was going to go over the wall, I maybe would have thought about (flipping the bat),” Hwang joked. 

Hwang instead busted it nearly all the way to third on a ball that cleared the wall a few feet from the right-field poll. He said he was aiming for a triple off the bat, but the ball had enough backspin to hit the berm. The opposite-field homer came on a two-strike count. 

“I’m sure it's a relief for him to get his first hit, and of course, a homer,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “The ball carries here and he’s strong. Once it got up in the air there I thought it would go out. He did a good job of going the other way. You get a couple of strikes, you want to think the other way there.”

Bochy has liked what he’s seen from right-handed hitters the first two games, both victories. The Giants are intent on adding some thunder to their bench and on back-to-back days they have gotten late homers from non-roster invitees. A day after Chris Marrero’s three-run walk-off, Hwang hit a three-run shot. Justin Ruggiano, another right-handed bat, scorched a double in Saturday’s 8-6 win over the Cubs.

“We’ve got some good candidates and good players,” Bochy said. “They have pop. We’ll keep throwing them out there. You hope they make it hard on you, and I’m sure they will.”

Hwang had a rough debut, striking out twice in Friday’s Cactus League opener. He said he was over-swinging. 

“Typically I don’t really get nervous before games, but I got a little nervous and jittery yesterday,” he said through interpreter Mark Kim. “I had unnecessary power in my swings.”

Hwang said coaches approached him after Friday’s game and told him to relax. The easy power that so intrigued the Giants showed up on Saturday.