Matheny expecting 'knock-down, drag out' series


Matheny expecting 'knock-down, drag out' series

SAN FRANCISCO -- There are only four catchers who have received more of Matt Cain's starts than St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny.

Matheny, who spent the final two seasons in his 13-year MLB career with San Francisco, has been behind the dish receiving pitches from Cain 15 times, ushering the Giants' horse to a 3.89 ERA and a .193 opponents batting average.

"I was very fortunate to be a part of this organization for a couple of years and watch some young careers begin, like a Matt Cain," Matheny said. "I knew Tim Lincecum was on the way. And Buster Posey through the minor league system."

Lincecum and Posey have achieved much since Matheny's departure -- two Cy Young Awards, Rookie of the Year, five All Star invites, plus the bevy of awards Posey will garner for his 2012 season that could include MVP and Comeback Player of the Year on top of the NL batting title. Matt Cain? He's does have the June 13 perfect game against Houston, but it's been very much business as usual for the man tabbed to start Game 1 of the Giants' playoffs.

Matheny was impressed with much more than just a young Cain, though.

"I was able to spend a good amount of time with Dave Righetti, with Ron Wotus and Mark Gardner," Matheny said. "And it's a quality group of people over here.

"Brian Sabean and the ownership here in San Francisco has done a great job of setting a great foundation for what this organization is all about, and the fan base has been phenomenal in their support. It was a nice place to play, and definitely learned a lot of things."

Matheny hit .239 with 16 home runs and 77 RBIs in 181 games with the Giants, earning his fourth career Gold Glove in 2005. He also won the Willie Mac Award -- voted on by the players and coaching staff for the player best exemplifying spirit and leadership.

This year's winner -- Buster Posey -- is hoping the give the '05 recipient fits in the NLCS. Each team is coming off comeback victories in their NLDS matchups.

The Cardinals, who trailed 6-0 in the elimination Game 5 and scored four runs in the ninth inning to end the Washington Nationals' season, don't have too much time to process what they've accomplished.

"It still hasn't really sunk in," Matheny said. "At least to the extent of what these guys did. The bats they put together, the innings that the bullpen threw, I mean, it was one that goes into a category like I've never seen before personally or been that closely a part of. So, it really hasn't sunk in, but that day will come.

"Right now we can't spend too much time on that, we need to get ready for the next one."

What kind of series is he expecting with the Giants?

"I see a knock-down, drag out."

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.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as homers hurt Bumgarner vs Padres

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as homers hurt Bumgarner vs Padres


SAN FRANCISCO — A day after he did his press conference from a “Game of Thrones” throne, manager Bruce Bochy said he was happy the Giants won their series finale against the Indians and kept that plan in play. In that respect, he’s lucky his team wasn’t facing the Padres on Wednesday. 

The Giants were on Thursday, however, and they continued their baffling stretch of ineptitude against what is supposed to be the worst team in the National League West. The 5-2 loss to San Diego was the 15th in the last 20 meetings between the two teams, one of which has a $200 million payroll and the other of which is actively tanking. 

The Giants had a shot at a comeback in the eighth, but Buster Posey flied out to right with two outs and the bases loaded. Here are five things to know, if you are the curious type: 

—- Madison Bumgarner has faced the Padres twice since returning. In 13 1/3 innings, he has allowed 10 hits and seven earned runs. He is getting hurt by a familiar problem for the 2017 Giants: The Padres have four homers off Bumgarner in those two starts. Hunter Renfroe and Cory Spangenberg took him deep Thursday, with Spangenberg hitting one out to the deepest part of the yard on Bumgarner’s final pitch. 

—- This is the first time in Bumgarner’s career that he has allowed multiple homers in back-to-back starts. 

—- Kyle Crick showed good stuff — sitting 96-97 — while stranding a runner on second in the eighth. He followed that with a scoreless ninth. The Giants should make it a priority to throw him into some deeper water over the next two months. 

—- There’s an epidemic these days of outfielders making foolish throws to the plate. We see it just about every night, and it cost the Padres in the sixth. Gorkys Hernandez was on second and he took off right away on Denard Span’s single to right. Renfroe had no play at the plate but he threw it anyway and Span took second. He scored when Eduardo Nuñez singled to left. 

—- The Giants announced their second consecutive sellout. That’s a streak. Maybe?