Lincecum would get relief call before Bumgarner in Game 6

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Lincecum would get relief call before Bumgarner in Game 6

SAN FRANCISCO -- The RallyEnchiladas have been assembled and they're ready to pop in the oven for Game 6 of the NLCS.

The Giants will try to pass their fifth win-or-go-home survival test against the St. Louis Cardinals, and we can only assume that right-hander Ryan Vogelsong had his traditional, saucy meal Saturday night.

Vogelsong has been tremendous in two postseason starts thus far, but he remarked several times how drained he was after beating the Cardinals in Game 2. That seven-inning, one-run, 105-pitch outing took a lot out of him. Now he'll have to summon strength again to help the Giants force a decisive Game 7.

Vogelsong is a tough pitcher for manager Bruce Bochy to read in an elimination game. He often pitches through a lot of traffic in the first couple innings, only to find a gear and retire 13 of 14, or something along those lines. So Bochy has to be a bit patient.

On the other hand, this is an elimination game, and Bochy has everyone in the bullpen -- including Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum. So he can cover innings if Vogelsong just doesn't have it.

I asked Bochy whether he'd use Bumgarner or Lincecum first. He said it would be Lincecum, even though he's had just two days of rest since throwing 91 pitches in his Game 4 loss on Thursday.

There are a couple reasons for this. For one, the Cardinals crush left-handers who don't have a second career as designer jeans models. For another, and this one is down on the scale of importance, the Giants would be stuck without a rested Game 2 starter if they get to the World Series. Bumgarner remains very much in the offing to return to a World Series rotation after apparently finding something in his mechanics during his last side session.

More than anything, though, the Giants would trust Lincecum first because he's already thrived in that relief role and he can get ready faster than, well, microwaved enchiladas.

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The Cardinals lineup is leaking oil. Carlos Beltran is back after missing Game 4, but now Matt Holliday is a late scratch for Game 6 after his lower back stiffened up. Holliday tried to take batting practice but had to shut it down.

Matt Carpenter, the Cardinals' favorite last-minute lineup replacement, is in the lineup at first base. Allen Craig moves to left field, and it's a windy night. So this move could impact the Cardinals' defense as well as their lineup. (Because we all know Holliday would never goof up a fly ball in the postseason.)

Down on the Farm: Coach's view of San Jose Giants' stacked outfield

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San Jose Giants/Tim Cattera

Down on the Farm: Coach's view of San Jose Giants' stacked outfield

If it weren't for a bevy of injuries this year, Steven Duggar would be roaming the outfield for a higher level than the San Jose Giants right now. Just ask his manager. 

"If healthy at the beginning of the year, he could be playing at higher levels or the big leagues," Giants manager Nestor Rojas said before the team's 12-7 win Thursday night.  

Duggar backed up his manager's comments hours later in only his sixth game of the year with San Jose. The 23-year-old hit a grand slam, scored two runs and stole a base. Of his six hits in six games with the Giants, five have gone for extra base hits -- four doubles and Thursday's grand slam. 

"He's a solid player. It's fun to watch him play and go out there and compete every day," Rojas said. 

San Francisco selected Duggar in the sixth round of the 2015 MLB Draft out of Clemson. Between Advanced Single-A in San Jose and Double-A with the Richmond Flying Squirrels, Duggar hit .302 with 10 home runs and 15 stolen bases while playing center field in 2016. So far with San Jose this season though, Duggar is primarily playing right field. The change isn't permanent and only shows his versatility to Rojas. 

"He’s one of those guys who’s a really good athlete and can play all three positions in the outfield," Rojas said. 

Once he became healthy, Duggar joined another Giants top prospect, Bryan Reynolds, in San Jose's outfield. And like Duggar, center field is Reynolds' first position, but he's been seeing a lot of time in the corners too. 

"I think it's too early to dictate if he'll be in a corner or center," Rojas believes. "He's really good and he has the tools to play center field. He's got speed and he's got range. He can do really well in all three." 

After starting in left field Thursday night, Reynolds has now played 45 games in center, 24 in right and five in left field this season.

At the plate, Reynolds, who was the Giants' lone representative at the Futures Game this year, is slashing .300/.348/.448 in 80 games. He has also hit five home runs, eight triples and 18 doubles. As he becomes stronger and continues to mature, Rojas thinks Reynolds' power will be unleashed with five-tool potential. 

"Yeah, no doubt about it. The power's gonna come," Rojas said. "First of all, he's a good hitter. I believe that will come around later on and he can hit already. He hasn't shown that much, but it will come." 

The key for Reynolds to climb up the ranks is a simple concept and no different than any other prospect. 

"Just be consistent, it's the most important thing in this business," Rojas said. "It is baseball. You're going to be hot for one month and then go into a slump. Consistency will come with better mechanics and an approach at the plate.

"The kid has been very solid here and very consistent with his approach at the plate. He has the tools."

Rounding out San Jose's stacked outfield is the speedy Ronnie Jebavy, Gio Brusa (second on the team with 11 home runs) and Heath Quinn, who Rojas sees as having big-league pop in his bat. 

"The power is there, he’s one of those big-tool players," Rojas says of Quinn. 

While the Giants have gone through a grueling game of outfield musical chairs in San Francisco this season, a bright future awaits just a drive away in San Jose. 

Giants continue embarrassing stretch against rebuilding Padres

Giants continue embarrassing stretch against rebuilding Padres

SAN FRANCISCO — Three years ago, the Giants and Padres were the two teams in it until the very end for Pablo Sandoval’s services. He ended up in Boston, and when he became available again over the past week, the Padres politely backed away. 

They prefer youth and Rule 5 Draft picks. They came into this season knowing they might lose 100 games, and they didn’t mind. If anything, they welcomed the increased shot at the top pick in the 2018 draft. They’re here to tank, but the Giants (who expect to welcome Sandoval back on a minor league deal as soon as Friday) just won’t let them. 

Thursday’s 5-2 loss to San Diego was like so many others over the past calendar year. The Giants didn’t hit, they didn’t come through in the clutch, they did not support their starting pitcher, and they did not guarantee a handshake line. 

The Giants have lost 15 of 20 to the Padres since last year’s All-Star break, including three straight last July to kickstart a tailspin that has lasted over a year now. They have dropped four of five meetings in this second half, which was supposed to prove that a Padre-like rebuild is not needed up here in the Bay Area. They are five games behind the Padres in the race to finish a distant fourth in the National League, and in a season full of disappointment, that stands as one of the more embarrassing facts. 

Not even Madison Bumgarner’s return to AT&T Park could turn the tide. The lefty looked good most of the night, but two homers left him with a rougher-than-hoped line. Bumgarner gave up four earned on two homers. He has allowed multiple homers in back-to-back games for the first time in his career. Both starts have come against the Padres. 

“I’ve got to stop giving up homers,” Bumgarner said of his start. “That’s not going to work.”

Bumgarner said he felt fine physically, and his curveball — the pitch that has backfired on him most often since his return — feels right mechanically. He was facing his last batter in the seventh as George Kontos warmed up with a runner on. Corey Spangenberg hit a two-run shot to the deepest part of the yard to make it 4-2. 

Buster Posey flied out with the bases loaded in the eighth. The Giants brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth but couldn’t score, which has been the norm against the Padres. The Giants are averaging just 3.2 runs per game during this 20-game stretch of futility against a team they once dominated. 

“We need to win ballgames right now,” Bumgarner said. “We’ve got to start doing that. There’s no magic solution. We’ve got to start playing better, all of us.”