Reds postgame notes: Baker not comfortable...yet

908789.jpg

Reds postgame notes: Baker not comfortable...yet

SAN FRANCISCO -- Dusty Baker has seen this movie before.In 2002, his Giants were eight outs away from winning the World Series in Anaheim when he pulled Russ Ortiz.A year later, his Chicago Cubs were five outs away from winning the National League pennant before Bartman became analogous with the Curse of the Goat in the Windy City.So yeah, the Reds returning to Cincinnati with a 2-0 lead over the Giants in the best-of-five National League Division Series after Sunday night's 9-0 victory feels good to Baker and Co. Just not good enough. Not yet, anyway."You're not comfortable at all until it's over," Baker said. "It's hard to take the last breath out of anything, and that is their last breath and they're trying to get a hole, win Game 3, then Game 4, and it's back to even so we're trying to stop it from getting back to even, you know, any kind of momentum."It's very important and it's important that we try to end it, if we can, especially with our situation with Johnny Cueto, that would buy us some more time. It's always important to try to get it over with as soon as you can."Before Ryan Ludwick's second-inning leadoff home run, he had been 1-for-16 in his career against Giants starter Madison Bumgarner, who had thrown a one-hitter at the Reds on June 28 at AT&T Park."Just seems like once somebody starts hitting then it's contagious throughout your lineup," Baker said. "That's what happened.Brandon (Phillips) started hitting in this series. Ryan Ludwick hadn't had much success off the tough lefthanderJoey Votto, once everybody starts hitting, feels like everybody is going to hit. There are some times when you can't buy runs and there are other times that you can score runs at will.GUTIERREZ: Arroyo paints corners, befuddles Giants
"If I knew why and the secret of that, then I might really make a lot of money."The Reds outhit the Giants, 13-2, while Ludwick was 2-3 with his first career postseason homer. Votto had three hits with two runs scored in his first career multi-hit postseason game.The Reds were not swept in a three-game series at Great America Ballpark all season and did not lose three straight at home this year.RATTO: It's do or be done for Giants
Ryan Hanigan was 2-4 with three RBI, becoming the first Reds catcher with a multi-RBI playoff game since Benito Santiago on Oct. 3, 1995, against the Dodgers."But we've been winning games on pitching and defense and it's good to see the bats come alive, top to bottom, really, yesterday and today, different guys contribute and go everyone has been getting hits," Hanigan said."That's big especially as the postseason goes on."The Reds' 9-0 victory was the Giants' worst postseason shutout loss in franchise history.

Giants spring training Day 9: Bumgarner, Melancon face hitters

Giants spring training Day 9: Bumgarner, Melancon face hitters

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Madison Bumgarner aims to get all 27 outs every time he takes the mound, but on Tuesday the coaching staff gave the ace a nice view of the man who will help out if his nights are cut short. 

Bumgarner threw his first live batting practice session of the spring on the main field at Scottsdale Stadium. Mark Melancon, the new closer, followed him. Both players said they felt good. Both also found things to work on in advance of opening day. 

“Strength-wise I felt pretty good, really good, actually,” Bumgarner said. “My command up in the zone was right where I want it. I’m pretty happy with that. My cutter was pretty straight, but that usually comes around pretty quick.”

Melancon didn’t even throw his go-to cutter, saying he usually pockets it until later in camp. He’s getting the feel for his curveball back because he doesn’t throw it until he reports. Like Bumgarner, Melancon said he’s where he needs to be physically.

“I feel really good,” he said. “In years past there has been some slowness but I don’t feel that this year. I’m right where I want to be.”

The Giants have not finalized a Cactus League rotation, but Bumgarner will likely throw an inning in Friday’s opener. Melancon could follow him, as he’ll throw in the early innings until late March. He said he’ll talk to pitching coach Dave Righetti about closing a game or two over the final days of camp so he can start locking his routine down. It’s probably a lock that he’ll close out that first Bay Bridge Series game back at AT&T Park. 

ICYMI: Here’s actual (shaky) footage of Bumgarner throwing today. At one point, he gave Denard Span a hard time for missing a slider that he was told was coming. Span had a good reason. “I didn't understand him when he said it because of his accent,” he said. 

ICYMI, PART II: The latest podcast is a couple of interviews with Derek Law and Josh Osich. Law explained how he ordered 800 chicken nuggets for his wedding. 

CUETO UPDATE: The Giants now expect Johnny Cueto to join camp this weekend. His status for the WBC is up in the air. Speaking of the WBC, trainer Dave Groeschner will be leaving camp on Feb. 27 to work with manager Hensley Meulens and the Netherlands. Bullpen catcher Taira Uematsu is also working with the team, which opens play in Seoul. Anthony Reyes will be head trainer while Groeschner is gone.

PROSPECT WATCH: Bruce Bochy said right-hander Ray Black was a standout during early live BP sessions. “He had a hell of an outing yesterday,” Bochy said. “They said he was really good.”   Black, 26, still throws 100-plus. He still has command issues, though, with 32 walks in 31 1/3 innings last year. If he can get over that hump and stay healthy, he might rocket to the big leagues.

QUOTABLE: After just about every start last season — most of which were dominant — Bumgarner said he wasn’t happy with his mechanics. He said Tuesday that he’s still searching for the perfect feeling. “I was being a perfectionist,” he said. “If you’re being a perfectionist, I really haven’t had (my mechanics) where I wanted the last couple of years. It’s not like it’s too far off, obviously.”

Johnny Cueto hopes to join Giants camp this weekend

Johnny Cueto hopes to join Giants camp this weekend

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Giants have been watching high-quality clips of Johnny Cueto all spring, even though the co-ace has remained in the Dominican Republic. On Monday, manager Bruce Bochy finally managed to get face-to-face with Cueto. Kind of. 

Cueto spoke to Bochy, trainer Dave Groeschner and others via FaceTime, and all involved finally managed to hammer out a schedule for Cueto’s arrival. Cueto has been in the Dominican Republic tending to his ill father, Domingo, but he is expected to arrive in Scottsdale this weekend. Cueto is working to secure a visa for his father, who will travel with him.

Bochy wanted to have a long discussion with Cueto to get a sense of how ready he’ll be for the World Baseball Classic. Cueto’s participation is still up in the air, and not just because he has missed the first week of camp. There is a chance, Bochy said, that Cueto will choose to stay in Scottsdale to continue taking care of his father. The Dominican Republic opens play in Miami on March 9.

“He said he knows he’s got to make a decision real soon regarding what he does,” Bochy said. “Pitching or not pitching, he’s got to let them know as soon as possible.”

Cueto has been throwing to hitters at a facility in Boca Chica. He threw a 45-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday.