Programming note: Tune into Comcast SportsNet Bay Area after the final out of tonight's Game 4 for Giants October Quest, with highlights and reaction from St. Louis!
ST. LOUIS Everybody needs a motivational talk sometimes.Even motivational speakers.
So Giants manager Bruce Bochy took aside Hunter Pence, whohasnt driven in a run in eight postseason games and called himself the goatafter stranding five runners in the 3-1 loss in Game 3 Wednesday night.
Bochy dropped Pence in the order, from fifth to sixth. He said it never entered his mind to drop Pence entirely.
Instead, Bochy flip-flopped the middle of his order, moving Buster Posey up to third and entrusting Pablo Sandoval with Pence's former duty -- makingsure the NL batting champ would get pitches to hit.
Hector Sanchez is hitting fifth; Posey is playing first base,replacing Brandon Belt in the lineup.
Xavier Nady has a .391 career average against Cardinalsright-hander Adam Wainwright, but Bochy did not consider starting him. The manager iscasting his lot with Pence, who drove in over 100 runs in the regular seasonand fires up his teammates with passionate speeches amid a high school huddleprior to every playoff game.
And heres why:
Certain players, I believe, you need in the lineup, Bochysaid. I believe you need them for their energy and for how much theirteammates respect them and how they play the game. I dont believe, except on therare occasion, you sit a player like that unless hes absolutely lost.
If you have an everyday player who gives you everything hesgot and you know how much he means to a club, then I think he should be outthere.
You can debate whether Pence and absolutely lost belongin the same sentence. If that's your contention, youd have some evidence based on his at-bats and theway hes tapping out on one outside slider after another.
But Bochy said he likes the way Pence is staying aggressiveand not cheating himself with his swings.
Those guys are dangerous hitters because they may expandthe zone, but they also can hit a pitch out of the zone, Bochy said. I alsolook at the makeup of a player and how they carry themselves. To me, that meansa lot.
Hes taking his swings. Now, if you have a player whosfrozen up there, or caught in between, thats more of a concern. If youregoing to go down, go down swinging. Thats the typeof player he is.
Bochy did not mention Belts name, but you couldn't miss the inference. Belt struck out lookingand shook his head at the umpire after taking a borderline pitch in the seventhinning to strand two runners. Pence proceeded him by going down swinging.
Its possible likely, even that Sanchez will startbehind the plate in Game 5, too, when Barry Zito takes the mound. Both Zito hasthrown to Sanchez almost exclusively this season; Game 4 starter Lincecum and Posey have beenbatterymates only a few times since the All-Star break.
Well see how it goes tonight, Bochy said.
Madison Bumgarner is in Lincecum's former long relief role, beginning now. Bochy said Bumgarner is "in a good place" after a couple of bullpen sessions. It's hard to imagine we'll see the same pitcher until he gets an offseason to rest and recharge, though.