Five Giants essential to postseason berth

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Five Giants essential to postseason berth

Melky Cabreras absence undoubtedly leaves a big hole in theGiants lineup, one that will be impossible to fill completely. But evenwithout their former All-Star right fielder, the Giants are still in the huntfor a postseason berth. However, San Francisco will need other players to rise to theoccasion and steady the team in the wake of the suspension of their besthitter.Buster Posey
Buster Posey is now the Giants offensive leader and it would be ludicrous toexpect him to improve on what is already turning into a career season: a .330AVG and 76 RBI for their All-Star catcher. Posey simply needs to do what he hasbeen doing all season -- keep hitting. He is not known for having an outspokenpersonality, but he leads this team by example and can galvanize the Giantsclubhouse down the stretch by virtue of his on-field performance.
Gregor Blanco
Gregor Blanco will be getting more starts in left field as Cabreras defensivereplacement. Nobody expects Blanco to even come close to the same offensivenumbers that Cabrera recorded, but Giants fans know he does need to step up hisgame at the plate. Blanco's .236 average is not good, but if he can do thelittle things like get on base more, advance runners, and limit hisstrike-outs, the speedy Blanco can contribute.
Tim Lincecum
As far as the numbers go (6-13, 5.45), this is a lost season for Tim Lincecum.Bad as his numbers may be, he has shown flashes of his former self, with theoccasional shut-down outing. Lincecum can help by not getting into troubleearly in games, putting the Giants' now-weakened offense under the gun. Thisissue has been his Achilles heel for much of this season.
Hunter Pence
Hunter Pence was brought to the Giants as the offensive weapon that would givethe team the power bat that they have always wanted. Pence disappointedinitially, and in a big way. He is still batting just .177 in the month ofAugust with the Giants, but has showed signs of life since his game-winningthree-run homer against the Rockies on Aug.12. Pence needs to live up to the organizations expectations -- which can be atall order for any player -- and add that home run power that the Giants are sosorely lacking.
Brandon Belt
Brandon Belt has been heating up. His average has been climbing steadily forthe last couple of weeks and is up to .267 after going 15-for-30 in his lastnine games. That said, Belt has a reputation for being streaky and has not hadthe full confidence of Giants brass or the fans. Now would be the perfect timefor him to prove to the team that he can be consistent. If Belt can maintainhis current average with the timely hitting that he has been showing recently,the Giants' postseason hopes will be enhanced.

Bochy evaluates Arroyo's slump, does not rule out sending him down

Bochy evaluates Arroyo's slump, does not rule out sending him down

CHICAGO — Bruce Bochy planned to give Christian Arroyo the day off Thursday as more of a mental break than a physical one. Eduardo Nuñez’s hamstring had other ideas. 

Nuñez thought he was fine Wednesday, that he just had a cramp, but he felt continued tightness in his left hamstring when he went back to the team hotel and he was scratched from the lineup late Thursday morning. Arroyo is back at third, hitting eighth. He’s hitless in his last 15 at-bats and his average has dipped to .196. 

“I brought him in and talked to him,” Bochy said. “He knew the situation. He’s a tough kid and he wants to play and fight through this skid. He’s handling it well, he’s still playing good defense. I really like the way he’s handling it.”

Bochy went into scout mode when talking about Arroyo, saying he makes several evaluations when a player is slumping. He watches the way Arroyo takes the field, and he said the joy and swagger is still there. He watches the glove, and that hasn’t been an issue, no matter what the numbers at the plate are.

“It’s easy to play with zest and energy when you’re doing well,” Bochy said. “You watch when they have a tough day, an 0-for-4, and how he carries himself. Christian is doing a good job of that.”

Bochy noted that Arroyo isn’t trying to slug his way out of this. He went the other way with a runner on third last night, driving in a run. He has shown an ability to get runners in, which this team needs, but the numbers are what they are. Arroyo is batting .130 over his last 12 games with two extra-base hits, which have also happened to be huge ones. 

Two weeks ago, it seemed crazy to think Arroyo might be sent down. But Aaron Hill and Conor Gillaspie will return on the next homestand and the Giants don’t have that many spots to play with. There’s a lot at play here. There are service time implications in sending Arroyo down, and Nuñez could come into play if he can’t handle left with a sore leg. Perhaps the Giants move him back to third or 10-day DL him.

The Giants are talking about all this daily and there are questions to be asked. Isn’t the team better with Arroyo, even if he is fighting it at the plate? Are Hill and Gillaspie worthy of bumping a top prospect back down temporarily? Is Arroyo best served seeing tough pitches from big leaguers or going back down to continue beating up on Triple-A starters? On the last point, Bochy said he thinks seeing Major League pitching is invaluable. He wouldn’t, however, indicate a lean one way or the other on what the front office will do.

“I don’t want to make assumptions here on what we’ll do because we do have moves to make with Conor and Aaron Hill,” he said. “They’re not easy (decisions) but we have to figure out what we’re going to do.”

Giants lineup: Nunez scratched, Williamson in left field

Giants lineup: Nunez scratched, Williamson in left field

Bruce Bochy and Joe Maddon issued their lineups for today's series finale in Chicago:

Giants (20-28)
1. Denard Span (L) CF
2. Joe Panik (L) 2B
3. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
6. Justin Ruggiano (R) RF
7. Mac Williamson (R) LF
8. Christian Arroyo (R) 3B
9. Jeff Samardzija (R) P (1-5, 4.57 ERA)

Cubs (24-21)
1. Ben Zobrist (S) 2B
2. Kyle Schwarber (L) LF
3. Kris Bryant (R) 3B
4. Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B
5. Ian Happ (S) CF
6. Jason Heyward (L) RF
7. Miguel Montero (L) C
8. Javier Baez (R) SS
9. Eddie Butler (R) P (1-0, 2.00 ERA)