EXTRA BAGGS: Pence not out of breath, Magowan on Zito, etc.


EXTRA BAGGS: Pence not out of breath, Magowan on Zito, etc.

ST. LOUIS -- Even a man of his word can tell a fib from timeto time.

Hunter Pence said he was out of the motivational speechracket. Someone else would take the floor as the Giants prepared to take thefield for Game 5 of the NLCS Friday night.

Hed said all he had to say. He already rallied them backwhen they needed to run a three-game table in Cincinnati. What could repeating thatsermon accomplish? Wouldnt it just result in rolled eyes and deaf ears?

No, definitelyno, center fielder Angel Pagan said. Because he is so positive, man. We couldbe down 20 runs and he still believes we will win. That is the right attitudein this game. That is the encouragement he is giving us.

We cant go by what happened in Cincinnati. That is in thepast. We did it before. This is a totally different series.

They were supposed to have a totally different speaker. Inthe hours before Game 5, Pence walked into the interview room and nominatedJeremy Affeldt to take over as the clubs Tony Robbins. But when it came time

He said what needed to be said, Affeldt said of Pence.

The thrust of Pence's message this time: Get this series to SanFrancisco.

BAGGS' INSTANT REPLAY: Zito saves season, Giants force Game 6

That is how we prepared, Pagan said. We understand wevegot two of our best pitchers (Ryan Vogelsong and Matt Cain) and weve got agood chance.

Just got together, talked a little bit, Pence said. Weall said something.

The Giants havent done anything yet.

Remember, in 2010, the Phillies won Game 5 at AT&T Parkto bring the series back to Citizens Bank Ball Park. Thats when the Giantsburned every last fiber and three of their four starting pitchers to clinchin a non-elimination Game 6.

The Cards will send Chris Carpenter to the mound Sunday, andthere isnt one person on their side who isnt confident in him.

The Cardinals also proved earlier this postseason that no six-run lead is safe, either.

Barry Zito isnt the only one who heard constant jabs about his126 million contract. Theres the fellow who gave him that deal, too.

RATTO: Zito and his 'little fastball that could'

Former managing partner Peter Magowan was in the Giantsclubhouse after Zitos tremendous outing saved their season, and naturally, hewas set up for an I told you so moment.

He did not partake, mostly because everyone knows that youcannot justify a franchise-altering contract because of one nights labor. ButMagowan did express his happiness for Zito, especially in light of all thatsbeen said and written.

Its so long ago, said Magowan. But when we signed him,we knew what kind of record he had at the time. He was a Cy Young winner, hewas still young, he threw 200 innings every season and we felt he could providesome leadership to a young pitching staff. We thought hed be durable and wethought hed be a leader. He wanted to pitch for the Giants and hed bewonderful to market the team.

Hes had his problems and ups and downs as a Giant. But tosee him come up in a game like this, it says a lot for his character. Hes sucha good guy. He sure rose to the occasion, and we should all be elated at whathe did. Hes kept us going here in this season. Weve got a shot at the WorldSeries because of what he did tonight, and Im just very, very happy for him.Hes a good guy. He deserves good things to happen to him.

This is sort of what we were hoping we would get a leaderof a young staff.

Pablo Sandoval hit his third home run of the postseason,crushing a Mitchell Boggs inside fastball meant to jam him. Most left-handedhitters pull that pitch foul, if they manage to hit it at all.

This might surprise you, but Sandoval is just the seventhGiant in all-time franchise history to hit three home runs in one postseason.

Heres the list, and its loaded with fond fellows:

Pablo Sandoval (3), 2012
Cody Ross (4), 2010
Rich Aurilia (4), 2002
Barry Bonds (8), 2002
Kevin Mitchell (3), 1989
Matt Williams (3), 1989
Jeffrey Leonard (4), 1987

Buster Posey and Angel Pagan can join that home run listwith one more this postseason. But Posey would settle for something less thanthat. Hes hitting .167 in this series and he wasnt really a part of theGiants one scoring rally Friday night.

He has a tangible reminder, though, about what kind ofapproach he must have in Game 6. Its not tied to his finger. Its tattooedjust below his left knee the bruise from where he fouled a pitch off himself.

The ball I fouled off my knee was not a strike, he said.I think I need to just slow down and swing at strikes.

Tim Lincecum will be available in relief in Game 6, managerBruce Bochy said.

Lincecum threw 91 pitches in Game 4 and would be operatingon just two days of rest. But he told Bochy hed be ready for anything, and hismanager will hold him to that.

By the way, Madison Bumgarner has continued to throw in thebullpen in an effort to find a work-around for the fatigue or mechanical issuesor whatever is keeping him from putting the baseball where he wants it.

If the Giants see enough hopeful signs, they might putBumgarner back in a potential World Series rotation, knowing how much of animpact Lincecum made in his relief role earlier in the postseason.

Were getting way ahead of ourselves, but if the Giants makeit past the Cardinals, they would have Zito and either Lincecum or Bumgarner tostart the first two games.

Giants hitting coach Hensley Bam Bam Meulens will managethe Dutch team in the World Baseball Classic next spring. The Giants will makeuse of minor league hitting coordinator Steve Decker to help run things whileMeulens, who is from Curacao in the Netherlands Antilles, is away.

The Dutch teams pitching coach is Bert Blyleven, who wasmaster of the hot foot during his playing days. That probably wont go overwell if the Dutch players wear wooden shoes.

First base coach Roberto Kelly returned to the coaches boxafter missing the first four games of the NLCS because of a concussion that resultedfrom a batted ball that struck him in the workout prior to Game 1.

Maybe RallyKelly can get trending on Twitter, too.

Rapper Lil Wayne even sent a Twitter message to congratulatethe Giants and his pal Ryan Theriot.

Yes. Ryan Theriot and Lil Wayne are tight.

The best part of the whole RallyZito movement had to beOrlando Cepeda, the 75-year-old Hall of Famer, showing his social media savvy.

BAGGARLY: RallyZito movement blooms as Giants take NLCS back home

I was told I need to say Rally Zito, he posted from hisTwitter account (@OrlandoCepeda30).

A few moments later, the Baby Bull formatted it properly:

We have a ball game my friends. RallyZito

And theyll have another one Sunday on the shores of McCoveyCove.

Giants Notes: Blach shows resiliency; Another option in center?


Giants Notes: Blach shows resiliency; Another option in center?

CHICAGO — John Lackey's night started with a leadoff homer. Ty Blach's night started with a 13-pitch battle. Neither one is a positive for a pitcher, but Blach didn't view it that way. He actually appreciated Ben Zobrist stretching him out.

"It's good to have a battle like that and get you locked in," Blach said. "It gets you focused and you'll be like, I can execute and get guys out. It's good. It's a good battle."

There, in a nutshell, is so much of what Bruce Bochy loves about his young left-hander. The Giants have found Blach's arm and resolve to be remarkably resilient. He wasn't bothered when they moved him to the bullpen and he didn't get too high when they moved him back to the rotation. He is the same after seven shutout innings or three poor ones. Bochy smiled when asked about the Zobrist at-bat, which ended in a strikeout looking. 

"How 'bout that?" the manager said. "He won that at-bat. It seems like the advantage goes to the hitter, seeing all those pitches. He kept his focus and got a called strikeout and here he is pitching in the eighth inning."

After needing 13 pitches for one out, Blach got the next 23 on 81 pitches. Bochy thought Blach tired a bit in the eighth, but the deep effort allowed Bochy to mix and match in the bullpen, and ultimately he found the right mix. Hunter Strickland and Mark Melancon closed it out and got Blach his second win.

--- From last night, Joe Panik's huge night helped give Blach an early lead. With the help of Ron Wotus and his shift charts, he also put on a show defensively.

--- We're trying something new right after the final pitch: Here are five quick takeaways from the 6-4 win.

--- The options game sent Kelby Tomlinson back to Triple-A on Wednesday when the Giants activated Melancon, but his latest stint in Sacramento comes with a twist. Tomlinson started his third consecutive game in center field on Monday. The Giants are getting a bit more serious about their longtime plan to make Tomlinson a super-utility player. 

“Tommy is a valuable guy in the majors and if we can give him some experience in the outfield, it gives you more flexibility and versatility,” manager Bruce Bochy said. 

This is not Tomlinson’s first foray into the outfield. He did work there in the offseason after the 2015 season and he has played 25 big league innings in left field the last two seasons. This is Tomlinson’s first real experience with center field, and while in the past he has said that the transition isn’t as easy as some might think, Bochy is confident Tomlinson can figure it out. He certainly has the speed to be a semi-regular in the outfield, and the Giants aren’t exactly brimming with quality center field options behind Denard Span, who is dealing with his second injury of the season. 

“It’s a little different now,” Bochy said when asked about Tomlinson’s past experiences in the outfield. “He’s in Sacramento doing it, and knowing there’s a possibility we could need help in the outfield.”

If the switch doesn’t come in handy this season, it could in 2018. Bochy compared Tomlinson’s infield-outfield ability to Eduardo Nuñez, who has found regular playing time in left but is a free agent after the year. 

--- Hunter Pence did some light running in the outfield before Monday’s game. Bochy said Pence is still about a week away from being an option.

--- Bochy has said it a few times now when asked about the standings, so it’s officially a new motto for a team that got off to a brutal start: “We’ve put ourselves in a great situation for a great story.”

--- They're starting to get a little grumpy around here with their team hovering around .500. Perhaps the Cubs thought they could fool a few on the way out of Wrigley.

Panik takes step in right direction, helps Giants build lead Cubs can't overcome

Panik takes step in right direction, helps Giants build lead Cubs can't overcome

CHICAGO — The Giants gave Mark Melancon $62 million to make sure they don’t have an NLDS repeat, and the closer did shut the Cubs down in the ninth Monday. There’s a far cheaper solution to those big problems, however: Score so much that a late-inning implosion doesn’t matter. 

The Giants gave up four in the eighth inning in their first meeting with the Cubs since that infamous Game 4 meltdown, but thanks in large part to Joe Panik, the cushion was large enough. Panik, back atop the leadoff spot with Denard Span aching, reached base four times and had three extra-base hits. He came into the game with a .172 average over his previous 14 games, but he took John Lackey deep to lead off the night. 

“The last couple of days in St. Louis I started feeling better,” Panik said. “I started feeling a little better and today it clicked. It’s definitely a step in the right direction. I felt good. The swing path felt good. It’s going back to staying on the ball and not trying to do too much.”

With the wind rushing out toward the bleachers, there was no need to try and muscle the ball. The Giants hit a season-high three homers and added four doubles. Brandon Belt and Justin Ruggiano also went deep as the lead was stretched to 6-0. After Ruggiano’s blast, a familiar feeling set in.

Ty Blach had been brilliant through seven, but Javier Baez took him deep in the eighth. Derek Law entered and gave up a two-run shot to Ben Zobrist. Just as in Game 4, Bochy started wearing out the track to the mound. Steven Okert faced one batter and plunked him as Hunter Strickland and Melancon started to heat up. Strickland got the call, and after falling behind in the count, he got Willson Contreras to ground into a double play, stranding a pair. 

“No lead is safe on a night like this,” Bochy said of the wind. “It’s not surprising when the other team answers.”

It probably wasn’t surprising to the players on the field. It did, however, bring back bad memories.

“You’re human,” Panik said. “You’re human, but with the bullpen we’ve got, we have confidence that they’ll shut it down.”

As the Cubs rallied in the eighth and again the ninth, a half-dozen key plays from earlier loomed larger. Panik was sent from second by Phil Nevin on a hard single to left and he cut the corner at third perfectly, scoring the second run of the night. Blach helped kill one potential Cubs rally by cutting behind Albert Almora in the sixth. The center fielder had dropped a one-out bloop into right and he made a hard turn. Blach followed him to first, fielded a throw from Ruggiano, and threw Almora out at second, eliminating a baserunner ahead of Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo.

“We work on that all the time,” said Blach, a former minor league Gold Glove winner. “I saw him rounding pretty hard so I tried to sneak in. We were able to catch a guy sleeping.”

Blach was being modest. It is not a play most pitchers make, not in a 5-0 game. It was simply one of many defensive highlights for the Giants, who did just about everything right until the eighth. When the bullpen started to wobble, the lead was large enough that it didn’t matter. 

The win was the eighth in 10 games for a team that’s threatening to get back into the postseason chase. For all that’s gone wrong, the Giants are just 3 1/2 games behind these Cubs. They’ll try to get another one back Tuesday in a reminder of what could have been: Johnny Cueto against Jon Lester.

Earlier this season, Panik would have hit seventh or eighth against Lester, but Bochy said he’ll get another night atop the lineup. The manager said Panik earned it with his first career night with three extra base hits. After the first leadoff homer of his career — and probably life — Panik doubled twice. That helped build the lead, but it led to some ribbing hours later. As Panik addressed reporters, Matt Cain snuck up behind the scrum.

“Ask him why he didn’t try for third on his second double,” Cain whispered.