It's official: Matt Cain will start Game 1 of NLDS


It's official: Matt Cain will start Game 1 of NLDS

LOS ANGELES -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy didn't announce Matt Cain as his Game 1 starter so much as casually drop it in conversation with beat reporters Monday afternoon.

Nevertheless, the obvious is now official: Cain will take the ball and be charged with setting the tone for the NL West champions in a division series opener, almost certainly to be held Saturday at AT&T Park.

"It's fair to say he's the No.1 guy right now," Bochy said of Cain, who will make his 32nd and final regular-season start Monday night at Dodger Stadium. "The way he's thrown the ball all year, he started the All-Star Game ... he's been really consistent all season."

And, for one night on June 13, he was perfect. He became the 22nd major leaguer -- and the first Giant in the franchise's 129-year history -- to throw a perfect game.

Cain (16-5, 2.77) has a chance to become the club's first 17-game winner since Tim Lincecum won 18 in 2008. He also could join Lincecum and Jason Schmidt as the only Giants starting pitchers (minimum 10 decisions) to post a winning percentage of at least .770 in a season. He's also nine strikeouts away from reaching 200 for the first time in his career.

Monday's start against the Dodgers will be Cain's final tune-up before the postseason but he already looks locked in, having posted a 6-0 record and 2.18 ERA over his last nine starts.

The rest of the Giants' playoff rotation is less settled, although Bochy already has a Game 2 starter in mind. It'll be a huge surprise if it's anyone other than Madison Bumgarner. The manager expected to make that decision public within 48 hours.

And after that? Bochy acknowledged the possibility of remaining TBA on his starters for Game 3 and beyond, saying he could use a starter for an inning of relief in Game 1.

"We're set up to go any way," Bochy said.

The Giants also would like to reserve the right to alter his pitching plans depending on the outcome of the first two games.

For now, Bochy agreed that it's a good thing the Giants are facing a Dodgers team that is still holding on to thin playoff hopes. It's the first time the Giants have faced a contending team with some frontline pitchers in almost a month.

"This series is a big series," Bochy said. "I'd rather play a series like this with fans that are into it. This series means a lot. It's going to be loud."

BAGGARLY: Giants-Dodgers -- What to watch for

As a reminder, the Giants can eliminate the Dodgers with a victory combined with a Cardinals win.

Bochy planned to play his starters regardless of the playoff picture in this series, and he acknowledged his starting nine could be a preview of his postseason lineup. He's got Xavier Nady in left field against a right-handed pitcher.

"Really, the only difference would be (Gregor) Blanco or Nady," Bochy said.

What about vs. a left-hander? Would Brandon Crawford be his shortstop?

"I'm not going to answer that right now," said Bochy, who paused. "Good chance of it, though."

The Giants will have a workout Thursday afternoon at AT&T Park but it'll be a light session with no simulated game activity planned.

"I'd be surprised if it goes more than an hour," Bochy said.

Durable Longoria ready for additional boost from ballpark, Giants fans

Durable Longoria ready for additional boost from ballpark, Giants fans

SAN FRANCISCO — The field at AT&T Park is covered with patches and small piles of dirt right now, showing the signs of a winter hosting holiday parties and concerts, and a week with plenty of rain. 

For Evan Longoria, though, that grass was a beautiful sight.

A month after a trade that had him switching coasts, Longoria was introduced at a press conference at AT&T Park and ran the usual gauntlet with team employees and season-ticket holders. He spent some time this week looking for housing in the Bay Area, but soon he’ll be back in Scottsdale, getting to know new teammates and preparing his body for the 2018 season. 

Longoria said his workouts have been a bit different with a new staff, but the goal remains the same. He is a player who prides himself on taking the field every day, and that’s one of the traits that drew the Giants to Longoria. He has played at least 156 games in five consecutive seasons, and 160 in four of those seasons. 

It’s no accident that Bruce Bochy has mentioned durability during every media session this season. Andrew McCutchen has a similar track record, and the Giants lineup certainly could use some stability, especially at third base, where seven different players made double-digit starts last season. Longoria will change that. 

“I have a desire to play every day, and I think that that is infectious,” he said. “Players that may feel the grind of a long season or might be in a little bit of a funk offensively or defensively or with pitching, something like that can give you a boost when you have guys around that you know come to play and compete on a daily basis, no matter what the circumstance is.”

[RELATED: Just a number? Longoria says slow down with concerns of Giants' aging roster]

For Longoria, who turned 32 early in the offseason, the circumstance has changed for the better. After years on the unforgiving turf at The Trop, he comes to a park and division featuring nothing but natural grass. 

“I hope it helps,” he said. “Going on the road (with the Rays), my body definitely felt better when I played on grass. I’m sure that it will help. It’s definitely not going to be a negative. Not playing on the turf anymore is something that crossed my mind as soon as the trade happened.”

Longoria expects to benefit from another aspect of AT&T Park, too. The Rays finished dead last in the majors last year with an average of 15,670 fans per game. Even though their sellout streak ended, the Giants still had an average of more than 40,000 per night. Asked about playing outdoors, Longoria smiled and added, “in front of fans.”

“The environment here is obviously much different, so it’s going to be nice to step into that on a daily basis and play in front of a fan base that’s obviously very storied,” he said. “It helps with energy. It helps with motivation.”

McCutchen ready for more conversations with 'Steve the Seagull' at AT&T Park

McCutchen ready for more conversations with 'Steve the Seagull' at AT&T Park

Andrew McCutchen has been one of the best players in the National League for years now. The 31-year-old is a five-time All-Star and was named the 2013 NL MVP. 

Not only do his stats stand out, McCutchen is also one of the most entertaining players in baseball. And that's clearly going to continue in San Francisco. 

On Thursday, McCutchen was asked about the famous seagulls of San Francisco flying around the outfield at AT&T Park. 

"I definitely made a few friends out there over the years. Steve the Seagull out there, I know him," McCutchen said on KNBR. "He comes in every now and then. We have a little pow-wow when I come to San Francisco. Yeah, we get along well, me and the guys, me and the birds. They know when to come in that's for sure." 

Denard Span, who the Giants traded to acquire Evan Longoria, had a much different relationship with the seagulls. 

McCutchen is clearly the opposite of Span in this regard though. He seems about as calm as can be when it comes to the birds paying him a visit. 

"They chill, we have some conversations. It's all good," says McCutchen. 

One other aspect McCutchen can't wait for in the outfield at AT&T Park, is getting to know all the fans. Specifically, not being a part of a special chant Giants fans have for opposing outfielders. 

"I'm lookin' forward to fans not callin' me bums anymore," McCutchen said with a laugh. "I'm glad I'm on the winning side. I'm glad I'm on the San Francisco Giants side. I can't wait to meet all the fans."