NLDS Game 2: Key matchup

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NLDS Game 2: Key matchup

SAN FRANCISCO Here are a few key matchups, facts and figures as the Giants and Reds prepare to clash in Game 2 of their NL Division Series on Sunday at AT&T Park:-The Reds are starting Bronson Arroyo in Game 2 ostensibly to keep him away from livelier Great American Ball Park. But the right-hander, whose delivery is more straight-legged than a pair of trendy Levis, actually gave up more home runs on the road (16) than at home (10). Its a huge reversal from last season, when Arroyo served up 46 gopherballs 11 more than anyone else in the major leagues.Hunter Pence provides a bit of a scare for Arroyo; he is a .343 hitter (12 for 35) with two home runs, four doubles and a triple. Pence homered off Arroyo the last time he faced him, too although that was last year when he played for the Phillies. Almost all his career numbers came in hitter-friendly Cincinnati and Houston while Pence wore an Astros uniform.If the Giants need a pinch hitter while Arroyo is still in the game, Aubrey Huff owns a .522 average (12 for 23, 1 home run). Angel Pagan, while just a .217 hitter against Arroyo, has taken him deep twice in 23 at-bats.-The Reds might have tagged Matt Cain for six home runs in his three starts against them this season, but they face a much more difficult matchup with Game 2 starter Madison Bumgarner. The 23-year-old left-hander struggled down the stretch but has the good vibes to draw upon from his 1-hit shutout against the Reds on June 28.Reds manager Dusty Baker might be tempted to sit left fielder Ryan Ludwick, who is 1 for 16 lifetime against Bumgarner. But Ludwick is coming off a good game that included two catches in left field that otherwise lacked style points. Besides, Ludwick hit 10 home runs in just 118 at-bats against left-handed pitching this season.The Reds don't have any boffo performers against Bumgarner, but Joey Votto and Ryan Hanigan each own a homer off him and Brandon Phillips is 3 for 7. Impressively, Votto an on-base machine has not drawn a walk while striking out four times in 11 career at-bats vs. the young lefty.-Expect the Reds to be aggressive on the basepaths. Among NL pitchers, only the Pirates A.J. Burnett and the Braves Tommy Hanson gave up more stolen bases than Bumgarner, whose pickoff move lacked the same effectiveness it had in earlier seasons. Opponents were successful in 27 of 37 tries against him. (Tim Lincecum wasnt far behind, and opponents were wildly successful while stealing in 25 of 27 attempts.)-The Giants hit a couple of ropes off Reds setup man Jonathan Broxton and put plenty of pressure on closer Aroldis Chapman, which might bode well for the rest of the series.Chapman, who battled shoulder fatigue in September, threw 28 pitches his most in a game since June 24. He has never appeared on a second consecutive day in his career after throwing that many pitches.

Dusty chooses son's graduation over Nationals game against Padres

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USATSI

Dusty chooses son's graduation over Nationals game against Padres

WASHINGTON — Dusty Baker will miss the Washington Nationals weekend series against the San Diego Padres to attend his son Darren’s graduation.

Baker said he will rejoin Washington when it begins a three-game series in San Francisco on Monday, near Baker’s offseason home. Bench coach Chris Speier will assume managerial duties against the Padres.

Baker’s son Darren is graduating from Jesuit High School in Carmichael, California. He’s committed to play college baseball at Cal.

As a 3-year-old bat boy, Darren was rescued from a potential home plate collision by J.T. Snow in Game 5 of the 2002 World Series between Baker’s Giants and the Angels.

Giants notes: 'Disappointing' road trip; Nuñez hopes to return Friday

Giants notes: 'Disappointing' road trip; Nuñez hopes to return Friday

CHICAGO — As they packed up at AT&T Park eight days ago, the Giants talked of taking their momentum on the road. It sounded pie-in-the-sky given the way they had played in April and on the previous trip, but when they took the first two in St. Louis, players started to believe they had finally turned the corner. 

And then came a Sunday loss, and three of four at Wrigley Field. There was no happy flight Thursday. The Giants lost 5-1, again looking flat against a less-than-elite pitcher, and ended up with a 3-4 trip. They’ll finish the first two months of the season without a winning road trip. They're 9-19 away from AT&T Park. 

“It’s disappointing,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Once you win the first one here, you’re hoping you get greedy and take the series, but we didn’t. That’s disappointing.”

The Giants entered the road trip with a 6.62 starters’ ERA on the road, but pitching wasn’t the issue. Sure there were too many meatballs — most of the 10 Cubs homers in this series came on pitches left right over the fat part of the plate — but the starters did their job. The lineup couldn’t keep up. The Giants had just five hits Thursday and finished the trip with 24 runs in seven games. They started the trip nine games out in the West and finished 11 back of the Rockies, their largest deficit since 2013. 

“You come here and take the first game with our (top) guys throwing after that and you’re hoping for a better result,” Jeff Samardzija said. “We started out good and that St. Louis series puts you in a good spot to salvage the trip. We’ll go home now with six solid games on our home turf and they’re six big games for us.”

The Braves and Nationals come to town. The Giants will see Jaime Garcia on Friday, followed by Mike Foltynewicz and R.A. Dickey. 

--- Samardzija’s run without a walk ended at 154 batters when Ian Happ drew a free pass in the seventh. The streak was the best of Samardzija’s career. 

--- Eduardo Nuñez said he got treatment on a tight hamstring throughout the game and he’ll go in early Friday to continue treatment. He hopes to start Friday. 

--- Christian Arroyo was hitless in three at-bats, dropping his average to .191. Before the game, Bochy talked at length about Arroyo’s recent struggles and the plan with him going forward. 

--- If you missed it earlier, I took a tour of the visiting bullpen here. After going in there, I talked to some more pitchers about what they don’t like. It seems to mostly be the fact that you’re separated from the game. One said some of the relievers who pitched Monday had no idea it was raining because they had been getting loose inside for several innings. Seems like there’s a pretty easy fix here: The Cubs can just turn part of that Under Armour wall into a chain-link fence, or have some sort of window that opens up to the outside but doesn’t interfere with outfielders. Maybe next year …