Posey & Molina: Different versions of same guy

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Posey & Molina: Different versions of same guy

There are a hundred ways to subdivide the National League Championship Series before it begins, and a hundred more once it does, but for the moment its a catchers world, and everyone else is working the fringes.

The San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals enter this series knowing too much about each other, all the way down to the ways in which they defied gravity just to reach this moment.

But more than anything else, they are about their two catchers, Yadier Benjamin Molina and Gerald Dempsey Posey. They share the same rarefied air at the same time in the games history, and their performances both as comparison points and as emanations that influence their teammates will determine in large part which team advances to the World Series.

Others may put up gaudier numbers in this series, which begins Sunday evening at The Thing On King; in a short series, numbers arent terribly helpful.

But Mike Matheny and Bruce Bochy are both catchers, and they appreciate the game as catchers do. They each have catchers who are MVP candidates, and they are most acutely aware that their catchers will determine in large part whose story gets written larger.

I've always been a big fan of Buster Posey, Matheny, the Cardinal manager, said. I was able to talk to him as he was a young player coming through the minor leagues in the Giants organization, and it didn't take too much foresight to realize that he was going to be special. You could see his makeup, leadership, natural leadership skills he has. And obviously he can swing the bat a little bit.

He's done a terrific job, especially as you look at the obstacles he's had with coming back from a tough, tough injury and still being able to get back behind the plate. I admire the fact when many of the conversations were going towards him moving to first base how adamant he was that he was a catcher. And I understand that mentality.

I will, however, stand behind the fact that Yadier Molina has impressed me more than any catcher I've ever witnessed. The things that he does that are intangible that you can only see by watching every day, and watching from a very critical eye. But he has everything that you would ask for from a catcher defensively. And then there are some things offensively people didn't think he would be able to do, and that was just enough motivation for him to figure out how to do it. I know Buster has to have a lot of consideration as the most valuable player, but from where I sit I don't know how Yadier Molina couldn't be in that conversation, as well.

I think you're talking about two of the best catchers in the game, Bochy, the Giants manager said. Two guys who catch well, throw well, handle the bat, hit for power . . . they have the whole game. And so it's a big reason why these two teams are here, because of the two catchers. So I'm sure there's going to be a lot of comparisons. But they're different players. I don't want to go into that. In their own way, they have their own styles.

Bochy was not more effusive because he doesnt do effusive in a room full of strangers. The closest he came to comparisong Posey and Molina was when he said, Well, they have a lot of thump in their whole lineup, as if to say Molinas importance isnt as readily noticeable at the plate.

But that isnt the point, ultimately. Their offensive numbers tell largely the same story, and though Molina is considered the better defensive catcher, Posey has handled a more disparate pitching staff.

They are, then, different versions of the same guy, and at the level they typically play, the series will revolve around them, because it must. Series gravitate toward great players, almost as an invisible ruler to settle arguments about who is better when thrown into the same pot of boiling water, and the still-nascent Posey-Molina debate is about to gain focus and clarity.

This wont happen because one should end up with a better reputation than the other, or because it will help shift MVP votes (those were already sealed at the end of the regular season). No, beyond the sheer matter of who scores more runs four times first, we will see how Posey changes who the Giants are, and how Molina changes who the Cardinals are. They are invaluable to their teams in that way, and that will be the story that will be told best in the next week or so.

Bumgarner throws three innings of no-hit ball in first rehab start

Bumgarner throws three innings of no-hit ball in first rehab start

BOX SCORE

Madison Bumgarner was back on the bump Sunday night in a Giants jersey for the first time since being placed on the DL due to a dirt bike accident on April 21.

Bumgarner took the mound for the Arizona Rookie League Giants against the Arizona Rookie League Angels and did not allow a hit in three innings pitched. The Giants' ace also struck out two and walked one. 

In both the first and third innings, Bumgarner pitched a perfect three up and three down frame. 

Bumgarner was diagnosed with a Grade 2 sprain of his left throwing shoulder and sustained bruised ribs from his dirt bike accident on an off day in Colorado. Pitching in a game for the first time in over two months, Bumgarner was throwing between 88-91 miles per hour, according to Tommy Stokke of FanRagSports. 

After finishing his three innings of work, Bumgarner went down to the bullpen to increase his pitch count, reports Sande Charles of FanRagSports

Before sustaining the injury, Bumgarner was 0-3 with a 3.00 ERA in four starts this season. 

The Giants have gone 21-41 since Bumgarner's injury. They are 27-51 on the year and sit 24.5 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West. 

After another Giants clunker, Bochy tells players 'enough is enough'

After another Giants clunker, Bochy tells players 'enough is enough'

SAN FRANCISCO — A few minutes after yet another missed opportunity at the plate Sunday, a voice came over a speaker in the press box at AT&T Park and announced a 524th consecutive sellout. It nicely summed up this current stretch of Giants baseball. 

The seats are emptier than they used to be at first pitch, and they were just about abandoned in the ninth inning of an 8-2 loss, but for the most part the fans are still showing up in droves. One woman brought a toaster by the dugout Sunday morning and asked players and coaches to sign it, hoping to recapture the magic from across the bridge. Another, Bryan Stow, made his first appearance of the season at AT&T Park, met with Bruce Bochy, and said he hoped to see a win. As Matt Moore started warming up, a band set up on top of the visiting dugout to play hits that celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love. 

For a while, AT&T Park was rocking. And then, as has happened so often this summer, the game started. 

The Giants turned in another epic clunker in a season full of them. They have lost 12 of their last 13 games and 21 of 26, but it’s worse than the raw numbers. On most nights, some in the organization have noted privately, they are simply boring. It’s one thing to lose, it’s quite another to do it in this way. 

“There’s no getting around it,” Bochy said after the sweep. “I’ve been through some tough stretches here and this is as tough as any stretch I’ve seen. For some reason the baseball gods are really testing us here and (testing) this group. It’s not that they’re not coming out ready or trying, but enough is enough.

“At some point, we’ve got to find a way to get this thing turned around.”

Even a slight pivot would be welcomed by the faithful. There were scattered boos Sunday, the latest in a growing trend. This is a fan base that has seen the highest highs, but rarely in franchise history have the lows been this low. 

The crowd no longer turns to the rally lights that were used so often in an awful April, but the noise still grows with each new rally. And then, every single time Sunday, the Giants killed off any hope. 

In the second inning, a Brandon Belt bunt single and Brandon Crawford bloop put two on, but a pair of rookies flied out. 

In the third, the bases were loaded ahead of Buster Posey. He flied out to bring one run across, and there were still runners on the corners for Belt, who leads the team in homers. On a 2-2 count, Hunter Pence inexplicably took off for second. He was caught, the inning was over, and the two-run Mets lead was intact. Bochy said he did not send Pence. 

In the sixth, there were two on with no outs for Posey. Both runners bolted to stay out of a double play. Posey popped up to first -- for a double play.

“He’s not a guy that strikes out, so I’m pretty confident sending runners with Buster,” Bochy said. “We can’t keep laying back. We’re trying to force the issue a bit and stay out of double plays.”

In the eighth, the Giants loaded the bases for Posey and Belt. Posey grounded out. Belt struck out for the third time. 

“We’re getting guys out there,” Bochy said. “We’re not doing enough damage.”

Matt Moore’s damage was self-inflicted. He twice gave up homers to the guy — Rene Rivera — hitting in front of the pitcher. Moore said he has stopped throwing his cutter the past three starts and tried to get his four-seamer going, but the Mets were teeing off. Moore gave up five runs on seven hits. He was pulled in the fifth, left to think about mechanics that still aren’t right. 

“The cutter is a little bit different of a pitch and at times it can take away from the four-seam fastball location-wise, and command of the four-seam was starting to go down the more I threw (the cutter),” Moore said. “I’m anxious to get back to it, but the foundation has got to be throwing the four-seam fastball. I need to execute where they’re carrying through the zone, not running or cutting.”

Moore said his confidence is fine and his problems are not physical. Others can no longer say that. Austin Slater, a rare bright spot in this five-win month, was pulled with a tight hip flexor. He was headed for an MRI. 

Slater is too young to be one of the players Bochy approached after the game. He said he talked to a few, though, passing along that “enough is enough” message. Moore, last in the National League in ERA (6.04), was not one who needed a reminder. 

“I’m sitting on a six right now with not a lot of wins and not enough team wins when I’m throwing,” he said. “It’s been 'enough' for me for the last couple of months.”