Protection for Posey key to Giants' chances

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Protection for Posey key to Giants' chances

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Well, weve finally gotten the answer to the question that has nagged for nearly two weeks: Your Game Four and Five starters for the San Francisco Giants are . . .Not as important as we thought.Oh, sure, Tim Lincecum is important, and getting the ball for the Giants in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series creates with it a few tweaks to a lineup that needs all the tweaks its skin can endure. And Barry Zito is certainly an interesting notion for Game 5, insofar as it means that Madison Bumgarner is out, at least for the moment.In other words, Hector Sanchez catches, which means Buster Posey goes to first base, which means Brandon Belt sits and, more likely than not, Hunter Pence moves down a spot in the lineup to break out of what has become the teams most noticeable slump.But as Bruce Bochy picked at his food in the Managers office after Wednesdays rain-engorged 3-1 win by the St. Louis Cardinals, he knew what the real problem is. And though he couldnt say it aloud, he could think it.He doesnt have enough difference-making players.Melky Cabrera is being missed, not so much in left field but certainly in the three-hole in the batting order. And Pablo Sandoval isnt hurting the team all that much in the three-hole, but he is a better five-hole hitter. And Pence, who is a better sixth-place hitter, is stuck in the five-spot unless Bochy decides that semi-desperate times call for semi-desperate measures.This all matters because the Cardinals, unlike the Cincinnati Reds before them, have decided that Buster Posey is not to see a hittable pitch in this series. Period. And there is no second Posey in the order to make the Cardinals think otherwise.This is a long-standing Cardinal philosophy the other guys best player is not to be the instrument of your death. It was a staple of Tony La Russas managing and Dave Duncans pitching philosophies, and it remains so with Mike Matheny and Derek Lilliquist.They dont walk him outright, although he had two Wednesday night. But they give him so little to work with because (a) they have no fear of Pence, Belt or Gregor Blanco behind Posey, (b) the bases are not crowded when Posey bats, and (c) hes seen eight different pitchers in three games, none more than twice in situations where he was actually allowed to hit.In short, St. Louis is ahead in this series, two games to one, in significant part because they dont believe the Giants have enough hitting to force them to pitch to Posey.In Game 1, he batted once with a runner in scoring position and Joe Kelly walked him. In Game 2, he batted once with a runner scoring position again, in the bottom of the eighth with the Giants already ahead, 6-4, and was struck out by Marc Rzepcynski in a what-the-hell situation. And in Game 3, his one chance with a runner in scoring position ended in another walk, from Kyle Lohse.You may not remember it because, well, it was before the rain delay.The point is, in sum, that while we have exercised our mighty brains wondering about the level of Marco Scutaros health, the relative darkness of Matt Hollidays soul, the identities of the Giants fourth and fifth starters and the whereabouts of Pence, the Cardinals have been making the Giants beat them without their best hitter in play.And except for the fourth inning of Game 1, the fourth and eighth innings of Game 2 and the third inning Wednesday, they havent.So, while it is invigorating in some sense to know that Lincecum and Zito are pitching games Four and Five and Madison Bumgarner is being reduced to a role as the new Lincecum, the real issue is offense, and more specifically which player or combination of players is going to force the Cardinals to break programming and face Posey in a difficult situation.In other words, Lincecum can do a lot of things, but he cant win a game with Matt Cains run support levels, and neither can Zito for that matter. Pitching will not save the Giants if they cant solve the more fundamental problem. Losing 2-1, 6-1, or 11-1 is the same thing when youre the guy packing the 1.And while it seems like every day presents a different reason why Bochy picks at his postgame meal and curses the events of the day, so much of it has to do with one thing.The Cardinals have not been forced to face Buster Posey straight up. Until they are, all the other nuances of the series will be rendered moot.

Blach only lasts three innings as Giants get mashed by Mets in loss

Blach only lasts three innings as Giants get mashed by Mets in loss

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Yoenis Cespedes had three hits including a two-run homer and Lucas Duda had three hits including a solo blast as the New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 11-4 on Friday night.

The win snapped the Mets' four-game losing streak. They had lost seven of eight.

The Giants have lost 10 of their last 11 games, 12 of their last 14 and 19 of their last 24.

Along with Cespedes and Duda, Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilmer Flores and Michael Conforto all had three hits.

After being held to five runs over their last three games, the Mets broke out their hitting slump, combining for 20 hits.

All but one Mets starter (Jose Reyes) had at least one hit and all but two (Reyes and Cabrera) drove in at least one run.

Seth Lugo (2-1) won for the third time in his last four starts. He gave up four runs in 5 2/3 innings and was 1 for 2 with one RBI.

Gorkys Hernandez hit a two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the sixth off Lugo that spoiled his bid for a fifth straight quality start.

Cespedes' ninth homer of the season highlighted a six-run second inning in which the Mets sent 10 batters to the plate.

Cespedes had a double in the sixth that highlighted a three-run inning.

In 13 games since coming off the disabled list Cespedes is 17 for 43 with seven extra-base hits including three home runs.

He's 8 for 18 with three home runs in his last four games at AT&T Park going back to last season.

Ty Blach (4-5) gave up seven runs in three innings. He's 0-3 with a 6.84 ERA in his last five starts.

Cabrera was activated from the disabled list and inserted into the New York Mets' starting lineup at second base rather than shortstop and he said he wants to be traded. Cabrera had three hits Friday night.

The 31-year-old, a two-time All-Star and a veteran of 11 big league seasons, had not started at second since Sept. 28, 2014. The Mets started Jose Reyes at shortstop against San Francisco on Friday night and Wilmer Flores at third.

TRANSACTIONS:

Mets: Second-round draft selection Mark Vientos signed out of high school for a $1.5 million signing bonus. The infielder was the 59th overall selection in this year's draft. . The Mets also signed their third- and fifth-round picks, OF Quinn Brodey and 1B/OF Matt Winaker (both from Stanford). . Brodey signed for a $500,000 bonus and Winaker for $280,000.

Giants: LHP Bryan Morris was designated for assignment and Steven Okert was called up from Triple-A Sacramento.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Giants: LHP Madison Bumgarner (separated left shoulder) threw 45 pitches in a simulated game on Wednesday at the team's spring training complex in Scottsdale, Arizona. . Utilityman Eduardo Nunez went on the 10-day DL with a hamstring injury. The Giants activated 3B Conor Gillaspie (back spasms).

UP NEXT

Mets RHP Jacob deGrom (6-3, 394 ERA) has allowed one earned run over 17 innings in his last two starts. He's 3-1 with a 3.62 ERA in five career starts against the Giants. San Francisco RHP Johnny Cueto (5-7, 4.42) is 1-6 with a 4.13 ERA in his last nine starts. He's 4-4 with a 3.75 ERA in 12 career starts against the Mets

Morse reveals he barely remembers Harper-Strickland brawl after concussion

Morse reveals he barely remembers Harper-Strickland brawl after concussion

Giants reliever Hunter Strickland received a six-game suspension for his involvement in a May 29 benches-clearing brawl with Bryce Harper and the Nationals. Harper originally was suspended for four games before winning his appeal and served a three-game suspension. 

But the player who has lost the most amont of time came sprinting from first base trying to break up the melee. 

Michael Morse clashed heads with Jeff Samardzija and went crashing down. He has been out since with concussion symptoms and revealed Friday he barely remembers anything from the fight, according to the San Francisco Chronicle

After missing nearly a month of games, Morse feels much better, though effects from the concussion are still there. Every day Morse goes to Stanford for testing and therapy and still deals with lingering symptoms like dizziness once he raises his heartbeat and headaches. 

If Morse ever joins the reeling Giants is a question in itself. 

San Francisco currently has the second-worst record in baseball at 27-48 behind only the Phillies and have already started to shift to younger players. No matter, the 35-year-old Morse wants to be a part of the team. 

"You know me," Morse said to reporters before Friday's game. "Whatever happens, happens. I'm a happy-go-lucky guy. I'm happy to be with these guys. They're going through such hard times.

"I want to be with them, if not on the field, then off the field, helping them mentally if not physically."

In 24 games this season, Morse is batting .194 with just one home run. If his time has come to an end, the one home run was one to remember. 

Morse, in his first game back with the Giants since 2014 launched a pinch-hit solo home run to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth inning against the Dodgers on April 26. The fan-favorite raised his hands at the crack of the bat, bringing back memories of Game 5 of the 2014 NLCS.