Giants-Reds lineups for decisive Game 5

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Giants-Reds lineups for decisive Game 5

Programming note: Tune in to SportsNet Central's Giants October Quest this morning at 9 a.m. leading up to today's NLDS Game 5 from Cincinnati, only on Comcast SportNet Bay Area!

CINCINNATI - You can buy a ticket for today's decisive Game 5 for 3 on the Internet. Reds manager Dusty Baker has lost his last eight games with an opportunity to clinch a series.

The mood seems right for the Giants to get this done today behind Matt Cain, topple over familiar foe Mat Latos and move on to the NLCS.
But they're only two-thirds of the way there. Mood and spirit only carry you so far. And Matt Cain has allowed 15 runs (and six homers) in his three losses to the Reds this season.

Cain said he was too amped and was overthrowing in the Game 1 loss at AT&T Park. He plans to stay a bit more grounded, and it would be a good idea if the baseballs did, too, at Great American Ball Park.

I thought Bruce Bochy would go with Joaquin Arias at shortstop, after he hit two doubles after entering on a double-switch in Game 4. Nope. Same lineup as the first three games of this series. (Bochy probably wants to keep Arias' bat off the bench against the Reds' lefty bullpen or double-switch with him again.)

The X-factor today? Buster Posey. He homered off Mat Latos in September, 2010, to break his spell over the team. He homered off Latos in Game 1. And he's Buster Posey.

GIANTS
Angel Pagan CF
Marco Scutaro 2B
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Buster Posey C
Hunter Pence RF
Brandon Belt 1B
Gregor Blanco LF
Brandon Crawford SS
Matt Cain, RHP (16-5, 2.79)

REDS
Brandon Phillips 2B
Zack Cozart SS
Joey Votto 1B
Ryan Ludwick LF
Jay Bruce RF
Scott Rolen 3B
Ryan Hanigan C
Drew Stubbs CF
Mat Latos RHP (14-4, 3.48)

D'backs release former Giants outfielder

D'backs release former Giants outfielder

Editor's Note: The above video was recorded following Matt Cain's perfect game in 2012.

Gregor Blanco's bid to make the Arizona Diamondbacks' Opening Day roster is over.

The former Giants outfielder was released on Monday, Arizona announced.

Blanco had been dealing with an oblique injury and had played since March 21.

In 14 Cactus League games, Blanco went 9-for-40 (.225) with one double and three triples.

Blanco spent five years with the Giants and was part of the World Series winning teams in 2012 and 2014. During his time in San Francisco, the 33-year-old hit .259/.338/.360 with 78 doubles, 24 triples and 157 RBI in 649 games.

The D'backs signed Blanco to a minor league deal in January.

Giants spring training Day 43: A big game for veteran trying to lock up OF job

Giants spring training Day 43: A big game for veteran trying to lock up OF job

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For the first time, Gorkys Hernandez did not go back to Venezuela in the offseason to play winter ball. He's hoping that leads to another first. 

Hernandez has never made an opening day roster, but after breaking into the Giants’ outfield rotation last season, he entered the winter in a decent shot. To bolster his case, Hernandez stayed in Scottsdale over the offseason to work out at the minor league facility. The added strength didn’t lead to any notable results over the first month of games, but Hernandez broke through Monday with three doubles in the final home game of the spring.

“Sometimes (slumps) happen and sometimes you’re late (on pitches) and you don’t feel comfortable at the plate, but now I feel different. I feel better,” Hernandez said. “I’m recognizing pitches and trying to keep it simple and not do too much.”

The coaching staff has asked several players to head down to the minor league facility late in the spring and get additional at-bats, and Hernandez took Bruce Bochy up on the offer. He twice played in minor league games, and on Sunday he rotated into different games so he could get six at-bats. Hernandez said that helped him find his timing. 

“Without question, it helped his timing,” Bochy said. “He was off. He was getting out front, his timing was off. I think the at-bats he got paid off.”

The three-double day was perfectly timed. Hernandez entered with a .159 average and Justin Ruggiano, the other option as a backup center fielder, had started to put together better at-bats. Monday’s game was a reminder in more ways than one. Hernandez showed off the type of speed the Giants won’t have on the bench if Kelby Tomlinson is optioned, and he played all three outfield positions, switching from left to right to center. 

The role in play is one Gregor Blanco had for five seasons. The Giants would like Hernandez to be their defensive whiz at every outfield spot, and they’re light on true center fielders. If the Giants put Hernandez on the roster this week as expected, he’ll be ready to try and be the new Blanco. 

“If they give me that role, I’ll try to do the same thing,” he said. “Or better.”

THE ACE: Madison Bumgarner is going to Madison Bumgarner. He threw seven sharp innings Monday, lowering his spring ERA to 2.52. In 25 innings, he has allowed just 17 hits and struck out 23. Bochy appreciated Bumgarner’s intensity Monday against a Reds team that was filled with minor leaguers. 

“That’s what makes him so good,” Bochy said. “He takes every outing seriously. His preparation doesn’t waver.”

Bumgarner even added a single, and he liked that it came on a breaking ball. He’s worked on getting better at hitting those pitches, which he’s seeing more and more. 

“I feel I’m as ready as I can be to start the season,” Bumgarner said. 

His next pitch will be thrown Sunday at Chase Field. 

GAME RECAP: The Giants blasted poor Reds starter Cody Reed, hanging 10 runs on his line in 3 2/3 innings. Denard Span had two hits and Aaron Hill had three, driving in three runs. Bochy went with an interesting lineup, leading off with Span, Brandon Belt, Hunter Pence, Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford. He said he likes Crawford in that five-spot. He also plans to hit the pitcher eighth on occasion.

TRAINER’S ROOM: Joe Panik was drilled by a fastball in the lower back and he came out of the game as a precaution. Panik has a nasty welt, so he’s in for a night of ice, but there are no concerns. 

QUOTABLE: Posey turned 30 today. As he walked out to stretch, Bumgarner was asked if he was giving Posey a hard time. “No, he’s been 30 for the last seven years,” Bumgarner said.