Pence, amid RBI-free postseason: 'I'm the goat'

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Pence, amid RBI-free postseason: 'I'm the goat'

BOX SCORE

ST. LOUIS On a team with pandas and giraffes and even awater buffalo, Hunter Pence chose a less popular place in the menagerie.

Im the goat today, said Pence, who went 0 for 4 andfailed to advance or score any of the five runners on base during the Giants3-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 3 of the NLCS Wednesday night.

Pence has been the Giants motivational speaker, but the Rin RBI doesnt stand for rhetoric. The Giants No. 5 hitter hasnt driven in arun in eight postseason games. And thats especially troubling when Pence isthe hitter who is supposed to ensure that NL batting champion Buster Posey getspitches to hit.

RATTO: Protection for Posey key to Giants' chances

Posey was 1 for 2 with two walks one intentional.Cardinals right-hander Kyle Lohse said he wasnt going to let the presumptiveNL MVP be the player that beat him.

Pence is supposed to make Lohse regret that tact. He didnot.

I didnt get the job done, said Pence, who grounded into adouble play after Posey was intentionally walked in the third and struck out afterPablo Sandoval and Posey hit one-out singles in the seventh.

Ill learn from what happened, and come back tomorrow andbe hungry. Jim Thome said something I liked: when he has a bad game, he goeshome and it makes him better. Im going to get ready for (Game 4 starter Adam)Wainwright. Weve got a lot of series left.

Pence only hit .219 in 59 games as a Giant after coming overfrom the Phillies at the trade deadline, but he drove in 43 runs. Pence battedfourth or fifth in all but one of his starts since the trade.

But Bochy did not rule out dropping him in the order forGame 4.

We might talk about it, Bochy said. Again, these guys area big reason why were here. But Ill talk about the lineup (later Wednesdaynight).

Bochy doesnt have many other alternatives to protect Posey, even if he really starts sliding the pieces. (Gregor Blanco third, Pablo Sandoval fifth, and Pence oreven Xavier Nady seventh?) There is a difference, too, between a tinker and anoverhaul -- both in the deed itself and its effect on the clubhouse.

The cleaner fix might be to flip-flop Posey and Sandoval in the 3-4 spots.

But if Pence does find himself hitting lower in the order,he said hed have no issue with it.

Ill try to have a good approach and try to take what theygive me, Pence said. Just dont swing at balls. Swing at strikes and hit ithard.

In every respect, Pence has done the opposite while hitting.161 (5 for 31) in the postseason with no extra-base hits. He keeps tapping outon long-armed lunges at outside sliders.

Yet Pence said he does not lack for confidence at the plate,no matter what it looks like.

I always feel good with the bat in my hand, he said. Icome to hit. I feel pretty calm. I love to hit and tonight, it just didnthappen.

Calm?

If youve ever watched me hit, Im always moving, he said.Movement is rhythm.

So youre doing what youve always done?

I mean, I dont always get out every time he said, tolaughs that broke the clubhouse silence.

Pence only smiled for an instant. He did not laugh. He issupposed to be Poseys shield, and there is nothing funny about tin armor. Orbeing the goat.

Im in the 5-hole. Im supposed to be driving in runs, hesaid. Thats about execution, and when you dont get that run in, it hurts.

But every time I go up there, I feel like Im on fire and Imgoing to catch something.

Pence brings tongues of fire in the dugout before the first pitch. His sermons have become a ritual ever since Game 3 in Cincinnati. But perhaps someone will slip a pocket mirror into the scrum for the next gathering. It couldn't hurt for Pence to look into his own eyes.

Dodgers infielder weighs in on Harper's errant helmet throw

Dodgers infielder weighs in on Harper's errant helmet throw

Before the right hooks and haymakers, there was the helmet toss.

A very bad helmet toss.

As he made his way to the mound after getting hit by a pitch on Monday afternoon, Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper attempted to throw his helmet at Giants reliever Hunter Strickland. He missed by a wide margin.

Observers took notice, including Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner.

"What was worse, Harper's helmet throw or 50 Cents first pitch? Heads up in the #McCoveyCove," Turner tweeted shortly after the brawl between the Giants and Nationals.

Turner is referring to a ceremonial first pitch thrown by rapper 50 Cent prior to a Mets game in 2014.

Harper mentioned the helmet when addressing the situation after the game.

"I was trying to go after him, with the helmet or with myself, just doing what I needed to do keep it going, I guess," Harper told reporters.

 

Fight Notes: Harper thought this was over; Giants collide; Posey avoids it

Fight Notes: Harper thought this was over; Giants collide; Posey avoids it

SAN FRANCISCO — When the Nationals visited AT&T Park for the first time after the 2014 postseason series, Bryce Harper took to Instagram to compliment the city. “Nothing like SF! #BayArea” he wrote underneath a photo of the Bay Bridge. 

Harper, a Las Vegas kid, has always seemed to enjoy facing the Giants. He hasn’t hit well at AT&T Park, but he was a star in their 2014 matchup and he praised Brandon Crawford on Twitter during this year’s WBC. The greeting Monday was not a friendly one. 

Harper was retired three times by Matt Moore. The first pitch he saw from Hunter Strickland left a dent on his hip and set off a wild brawl. 

Strickland denied any intent. Harper seemed confused by the timing of the payback pitch. 

“It’s so in the past, it’s not even relevant anymore,” he said of their 2014 series, according to Dan Kolko of MASN. “They won the World Series that year. I don’t think he should even be thinking about what happened in the first round. He should be thinking about wearing that ring home every single night. I don’t know why he did it or what he did it for, but I guess it happens.”

The Giants were not surprised when Harper reacted the way he did. Now they’ll wait for Strickland to get hit with a suspension, and Harper is looking at a layoff, too. 

“You never want to get suspended or anything like that, but sometimes you’ve got to go and get him,” Harper said. “You can’t hesitate. You either go to first base or you go after him. And I decided to go after him.”

Strickland, about an hour after the fight, said he’s not sure what will happen in terms of discipline. 

“That’s their decision and obviously I’ll take whatever consequences come with it and we’ll go from there,” he said. 

Any action by the league is unlikely to impact this series. Even if suspensions are handed down swiftly, players can appeal. Harper and Strickland may not be alone. Several players jumped into the fray aggressively and at least one non-active Giant — Hunter Pence — was right in the middle of the scrum. At the very least, he could be facing a fine for trying to help his teammate. 

“It doesn't look good when a guy gets hit but also on their side, the guy throws his helmet,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Strickland’s got to stand his ground. There’s no choice there. I can’t tell you what’s going to happen (with suspensions).”

One player who won’t face discipline: Madison Bumgarner, who is also on the DL but wisely stayed away from this one, even if it probably killed him to do so. 

--- The biggest hit didn’t come from Strickland or Harper. It was Jeff Samardzija and Michael Morse coming together in the middle of the field. Both players said they were fine. 

"I was just trying to get in there to break everything up," Morse said. "We lost the game, that's what's most important."

Ahhh, yes, the Giants lost 3-0. Bochy seemed particularly peeved that Strickland chose the eighth inning of a 2-0 game to exact revenge, and you can bet some teammates weren't thrilled. We'll see if there's anything more to this Tuesday. There was a lot of adrenaline flowing, but some of these guys might not be feeling so spry when they wake up in the morning. Bochy said he had not heard any reports of players getting injured, but he also admitted that he didn't see most of the collisions and had no idea what happened with Morse and Samardzija, who had a world-class reaction, by the way.  

--- As with the incident with the Dodgers a couple weeks ago, Buster Posey stayed out of this one. Smartly. 

"After it happened I saw Harper point and the next thing you know he's going out after them," Posey said. "Those are some big guys tumbling on the ground. You see Michael Morse, as big as he is, and he's getting knocked around like a pinball."

Posey is not alone in staying away from these scrums where 250-pound dudes are flying at knees and ankles. Brandon Crawford can often be found on the outside, as well. It's smart, but I think something else was at play here today. Posey understands that the Giants are fighting for every scrap at this point. Every loss digs the hole that much deeper, and this happened with two outs in the eighth inning of a 2-0 game, against a team with a poor bullpen. I'd imagine there was some serious annoyance there. 

--- How angry was Strickland? It took three guys, three big guys, to drag him into the dugout: Pence, Mac Williamson, and George Kontos. 

"I was pretty fired up to be honest with you, but that’s just adrenaline," he said. 

--- Baseball fights are rather silly, but at least you get some phenomenal photos.