Lincecum would get relief call before Bumgarner in Game 6


Lincecum would get relief call before Bumgarner in Game 6

SAN FRANCISCO -- The RallyEnchiladas have been assembled and they're ready to pop in the oven for Game 6 of the NLCS.

The Giants will try to pass their fifth win-or-go-home survival test against the St. Louis Cardinals, and we can only assume that right-hander Ryan Vogelsong had his traditional, saucy meal Saturday night.

Vogelsong has been tremendous in two postseason starts thus far, but he remarked several times how drained he was after beating the Cardinals in Game 2. That seven-inning, one-run, 105-pitch outing took a lot out of him. Now he'll have to summon strength again to help the Giants force a decisive Game 7.

Vogelsong is a tough pitcher for manager Bruce Bochy to read in an elimination game. He often pitches through a lot of traffic in the first couple innings, only to find a gear and retire 13 of 14, or something along those lines. So Bochy has to be a bit patient.

On the other hand, this is an elimination game, and Bochy has everyone in the bullpen -- including Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum. So he can cover innings if Vogelsong just doesn't have it.

I asked Bochy whether he'd use Bumgarner or Lincecum first. He said it would be Lincecum, even though he's had just two days of rest since throwing 91 pitches in his Game 4 loss on Thursday.

There are a couple reasons for this. For one, the Cardinals crush left-handers who don't have a second career as designer jeans models. For another, and this one is down on the scale of importance, the Giants would be stuck without a rested Game 2 starter if they get to the World Series. Bumgarner remains very much in the offing to return to a World Series rotation after apparently finding something in his mechanics during his last side session.

More than anything, though, the Giants would trust Lincecum first because he's already thrived in that relief role and he can get ready faster than, well, microwaved enchiladas.

The Cardinals lineup is leaking oil. Carlos Beltran is back after missing Game 4, but now Matt Holliday is a late scratch for Game 6 after his lower back stiffened up. Holliday tried to take batting practice but had to shut it down.

Matt Carpenter, the Cardinals' favorite last-minute lineup replacement, is in the lineup at first base. Allen Craig moves to left field, and it's a windy night. So this move could impact the Cardinals' defense as well as their lineup. (Because we all know Holliday would never goof up a fly ball in the postseason.)

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."