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Giants entrust Cain to usher in another reign

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Giants entrust Cain to usher in another reign

Programming note: Tune in to SportsNet Central's OctoberQuest at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. We'll take you all the way up to first pitch at 5:07 p.m. with all the pregame news, stats, updates and analysis. It's Game 4 of the World Series!

DETROIT Matt Cain takes the mound for the Giants in Game 4of the World Series Sunday night, and central casting couldnt have found amore suitable man for this assignment.

Cain has done all right in these clinching games thispostseason, if you havent noticed. He started and won Game 5 of the NLDS inCincinnati and Game 7 of the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals.

RELATED: San Francisco Giants 2012 World Series page

It will be a much different tenor at chilly Comerica Park, though. Its not a winner-take-all game.Far from it. The Giants are comfortably ahead and looking to complete a World Series sweep somethingthey havent done since that iconic 1954 series over the Cleveland Indians thatincluded Willie Mays indelible basket catch.

But dont expect any letdown from Cain, whose competitiongoes beyond a Detroit Tigers lineup capable of hurting him with the home runball at any time.

Cain is also locked in friendly competition with hisrotation mates, who have held the Tigers to a grand sum of one run over theirfirst three starts something that no major league team has done since the NewYork Giants Christy Mathewson and Iron Man Bill McGinnity in 1905.

Incredibly, Giants starters are 6-0 with a 0.47 ERA overtheir last six games. That helps explain how they havent trailed in 54consecutive innings a streak that began with Game 5 of the NLCS. Theyve ledat the conclusion of 44 of those innings.

And the Tigers havent even seen Cain the guy who threw aperfect game in June, received the honor to start the All-Star Game for theNational League in July and has been the Giants most consistent winner allseason.

Weve carried over what we had done in the last coupleseries into this series, and thats good, Cain said. Our guys are having funand were relaxed and focused on what we need to do. We know those guys on theother side are doing the same thing. Theyre going to be gunning for us.

Cain might be a better matchup for the Tigers because hesbeen a bit home run prone in the postseason. He allowed four homers over hisfirst three playoff starts, and although he held the Cards scoreless in hisfinal NLCS outing, it was apparent he had trouble keeping his fastball belowthe belt.

Giants officials privately worried about Cains heavyworkload, which stands at 242 13 innings especially after he threw 244 23innings in 2010. Cain is making his fifth postseason start; he made just threeduring the Giants run to the World Series title two seasons ago.

Thats one of the reasons that Giants manager Bruce Bochydidnt move Cain up to third in the World Series rotation. In a concession toRyan Vogelsongs crisper stuff, and the desire to get Cain one extra day ofrest, the Giants stayed with Vogelsong in Game 3.

The consequence: Itd be Vogelsong, not Cain, in a possibleGame 7. But Cain said he didnt bristle at being limited to one World Seriesstart.

No, I mean, I was going to take the ball whenever theywanted me to take it, and thats always been my way, Cain said. Whenever theywant me to pitch, Im going to take it. Take the ball, go out there and try tofind a way to win.

Itll start by keeping Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder inthe ballpark something the Giants have done extremely well while holding thetwin titans in the Tigers lineup to 3 for 17 with no extra-base hits and thesame number of RBI (one) that Barry Zito has in this series.

Cabrera is 1 for 6 against Cain, with a home run for hisonly hit. Fielder is a .278 hitter (5 for 18) with a couple of doubles but nohome runs. Omar Infante is the only other Tigers player with much experienceagainst Cain; hes also 5 for 18, all singles, and two strikeouts.

Itll be hard for Cain to match strikeouts with right-handerMax Scherzer, who finished second in that category among AL pitchers toteammate Justin Verlander. Itll be up to Scherzer to put this series inVerlanders hands for Game 5.

Scherzer has missed plenty of bats this postseason, strikingout 18 in just 11 innings. But surprise surprise, Marco Scutaro has just onestrikeout against him while going 4 for 9 in his career.

The Giants would do well to think back to July 2 of lastyear, when they faced Scherzer in an interleague game at Comerica Park andbattered him in a five-run first inning. Pablo Sandoval hit a two-run shot inthat game and Brandon Crawford followed with a three-run homer as the Giantswon in a 15-3 rout.

Scherzer has been a different pitcher this season,especially in the second half. He was 11-3 with a 2.53 ERA over his last 19starts, including 143 strikeouts in 117 13 innings. He credited an adjustmentwith his fastball that makes him able to locate it inside against left-handedhitters and away to right-handers. (Hes been especially tough on right-handedhitters, holding them to a .201 average vs. .292 against lefties.)

Once Im able to drive my fastball to the glove side, firstbase side for you guys, it sets up all my other pitches my slider, mychangeup, Scherzer said. Thats why Ive been effective of late.

The hour is very, very late for the Tigers now.

But every game you pitch in the World Series is a must-wingame, Scherzer said. So what better opportunity than the one I have?

The Giants feel just as enthused about the pitcher theyresending to the mound.

I think your great players seem to play better when theclub needs them, Bochy said. The higher the stakes, the more they do toelevate their game. Thats hitters and pitchers, and I certainly would put MattCain in that class."

How seven Giants prospects performed in the 2017 Arizona Fall League

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USATSI

How seven Giants prospects performed in the 2017 Arizona Fall League

The Arizona Fall League came to an end for seven Giants prospects on Thursday as the Scottsdale Scorpions (12-17-1) came up short from playing in Saturday's championship game. 

Let's take a look at how these seven names fared against some of the top young talent in all of baseball. 

The Hitters

As the Giants are linked to trade targets in center field like Billy Hamilton and Jackie Bradley Jr., a young in-house option only helped his case in the desert.

Steven Duggar likely would have seen the AT&T outfield this season, but his season was hindered by injuries, keeping him to only 44 games between three levels. With the Scorpions, Duggar took advantage of his opportunity with more at-bats. 

Duggar left Arizona with a .263/.367/.421 slash line over 20 games. The speedy lefty also stole nine bases and hit three home runs. Even if the Giants go for an experienced glove in center field this offseason and keep Duggar, the 24-year-old has also played 135 games in right field during his minor league career. 

For the second straight year, the Giants sent catcher Aramis Garcia to the AFL. And he's sure to be coming home much happier this go around with an up-and-down campaign.

Splitting time behind the plate with three other catchers, Garcia appeared in 13 games and slashed .259/.293/.333 and hit one home run. Garcia struggled to get one base with only one walk to 10 strikeouts, but showed his natural ability to drive runs in with 10 RBI. 

Rounding out the Giants' trio of bats they sent to Arizona is arguably their top prospect, but his time in the AFL was cut short. Chris Shaw only played in five games and hit .158. He dealt with a sore shoulder.

The Pitchers

The Giants sent two starting pitchers (Tyler Beede and Joan Gregorio) and two relievers (Tyler Cyr and D.J. Snelten) to the AFL. 

Pitching for the first time in nearly three months, Beede showed exactly why he's the Giants' top pitching prospect. Beede went 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in four starts, but his final three show the potential he's full of -- 14 innings pitched, three earned runs, a 1.93 ERA, 10 strikeouts and only one walk. 

Gregorio, who was suspended this season for Performance Enhancing Drugs, pitched in eight games (three starts) for Scottsdale. He left with a 1-0 record and 5.87 ERA. In Triple-A, Gregorio went 4-4 with a 3.04 ERA this year over 13 starts. The 25-year-old presents an interesting arm that can help sooner than later in the bullpen. 

Cyr's stats don't look pretty (0-1, 5.63 ERA, 8 IP), but he's catching some attention. The right-hander was named to the Fall Stars Game and is most likely to start 2018 in Triple-A after converting 18 saves at Double-A in 2017. 

Snelten, a 6-foot-7 lefty, impressed in eight appearances out of the bullpen. He didn't allow an earned run until his final outing of the fall, bringing his ERA from a perfect 0.00 to 2.25 in 12 innings pitched.

After combining for a 2.20 ERA to go with an 8-1 record between Double-A and Triple-A in 2017, Snelten is a name to know as the Giants look to find more lefties for their bullpen.

José Altuve is the first since Buster Posey to do this in a season

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AP

José Altuve is the first since Buster Posey to do this in a season

The Astros and Giants had seemingly opposite seasons in 2017. While the Astros won their first World Series title in franchise history, the Giants put together a historically bad season with a 64-98 record. 

Of all the Astros, José Altuve enjoyed the greatest season of them all. And one Giant can relate to the 5-foot-6 slugger. 

Altuve became just the eighth player in Major League Baseball history to win a batting title, MVP and World Series all in the same year. The last to do so was Buster Posey in 2012, the second of his three titles with the Giants.

In 2012, Posey hit .336 to win the batting title. He then received 422 voting points to edge out Ryan Braun (285) to win the National League MVP. 

Altuve hit 10 points higher than Posey at .346 to win the 2017 batting title. But, Altuve received less voting points (405) than Posey to beat rookie Aaron Judge (279).