Giants

Pence, amid RBI-free postseason: 'I'm the goat'

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Pence, amid RBI-free postseason: 'I'm the goat'

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ST. LOUIS On a team with pandas and giraffes and even awater buffalo, Hunter Pence chose a less popular place in the menagerie.

Im the goat today, said Pence, who went 0 for 4 andfailed to advance or score any of the five runners on base during the Giants3-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 3 of the NLCS Wednesday night.

Pence has been the Giants motivational speaker, but the Rin RBI doesnt stand for rhetoric. The Giants No. 5 hitter hasnt driven in arun in eight postseason games. And thats especially troubling when Pence isthe hitter who is supposed to ensure that NL batting champion Buster Posey getspitches to hit.

RATTO: Protection for Posey key to Giants' chances

Posey was 1 for 2 with two walks one intentional.Cardinals right-hander Kyle Lohse said he wasnt going to let the presumptiveNL MVP be the player that beat him.

Pence is supposed to make Lohse regret that tact. He didnot.

I didnt get the job done, said Pence, who grounded into adouble play after Posey was intentionally walked in the third and struck out afterPablo Sandoval and Posey hit one-out singles in the seventh.

Ill learn from what happened, and come back tomorrow andbe hungry. Jim Thome said something I liked: when he has a bad game, he goeshome and it makes him better. Im going to get ready for (Game 4 starter Adam)Wainwright. Weve got a lot of series left.

Pence only hit .219 in 59 games as a Giant after coming overfrom the Phillies at the trade deadline, but he drove in 43 runs. Pence battedfourth or fifth in all but one of his starts since the trade.

But Bochy did not rule out dropping him in the order forGame 4.

We might talk about it, Bochy said. Again, these guys area big reason why were here. But Ill talk about the lineup (later Wednesdaynight).

Bochy doesnt have many other alternatives to protect Posey, even if he really starts sliding the pieces. (Gregor Blanco third, Pablo Sandoval fifth, and Pence oreven Xavier Nady seventh?) There is a difference, too, between a tinker and anoverhaul -- both in the deed itself and its effect on the clubhouse.

The cleaner fix might be to flip-flop Posey and Sandoval in the 3-4 spots.

But if Pence does find himself hitting lower in the order,he said hed have no issue with it.

Ill try to have a good approach and try to take what theygive me, Pence said. Just dont swing at balls. Swing at strikes and hit ithard.

In every respect, Pence has done the opposite while hitting.161 (5 for 31) in the postseason with no extra-base hits. He keeps tapping outon long-armed lunges at outside sliders.

Yet Pence said he does not lack for confidence at the plate,no matter what it looks like.

I always feel good with the bat in my hand, he said. Icome to hit. I feel pretty calm. I love to hit and tonight, it just didnthappen.

Calm?

If youve ever watched me hit, Im always moving, he said.Movement is rhythm.

So youre doing what youve always done?

I mean, I dont always get out every time he said, tolaughs that broke the clubhouse silence.

Pence only smiled for an instant. He did not laugh. He issupposed to be Poseys shield, and there is nothing funny about tin armor. Orbeing the goat.

Im in the 5-hole. Im supposed to be driving in runs, hesaid. Thats about execution, and when you dont get that run in, it hurts.

But every time I go up there, I feel like Im on fire and Imgoing to catch something.

Pence brings tongues of fire in the dugout before the first pitch. His sermons have become a ritual ever since Game 3 in Cincinnati. But perhaps someone will slip a pocket mirror into the scrum for the next gathering. It couldn't hurt for Pence to look into his own eyes.

Dodgers crush Cubs in Game 5 to reach 2017 World Series

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Dodgers crush Cubs in Game 5 to reach 2017 World Series

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CHICAGO -- Enrique Hernandez put a Hollywood ending on an LA story three decades in the making.

Fueled by Hernandez's home run trilogy, Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers are finally going to the World Series.

Hernandez homered three times and drove in seven runs, Kershaw breezed through six crisp innings and Los Angeles ended the Chicago Cubs' title defense with an 11-1 victory in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series on Thursday night.

"It feels good to hear World Series," Kershaw said. "It's been a long time coming for this team."

After years of playoff heartache, there was just no stopping this group of Dodgers. With Kershaw firing away at the top of a deep pitching staff and Justin Turner anchoring a tough lineup, one of baseball's most storied franchises captured its first pennant since Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda managed Los Angeles to its last championship in 1988.

The Dodgers will host the New York Yankees or Houston Astros in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night. The Yankees have a 3-2 lead in the ALCS heading into Game 6 at Houston on Friday night, so one more New York win would set up another chapter in an old October rivalry between the Yankees and Dodgers.

The Dodgers made the playoffs eight times in the previous 13 seasons and came up short each time, often with Kershaw shouldering much of the blame. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner took the loss when Los Angeles was eliminated by the Cubs in Game 6 of last year's NLCS at Wrigley Field.

He was just OK in his first two starts in this year's postseason, but Los Angeles' loaded lineup picked him up each time. Backed by Hernandez's powerful show in Chicago, Kershaw turned in an efficient three-hit performance with five strikeouts in his sixth career playoff win - matching Burt Hooton for the franchise record.

When Kenley Jansen retired Willson Contreras on a liner to shortstop for the final out, the party was on. The Dodgers poured out of the dugout and mobbed their dominant closer near the mound, and a small, but vocal group of Los Angeles fans gathered behind the visitor's dugout and chanted "Let's go Dodgers! Let's go Dodgers!"

Report: Giants interview Chili Davis about becoming new hitting coach

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Report: Giants interview Chili Davis about becoming new hitting coach

Chili Davis spent the first seven years of his big league career with the Giants where he made two All-Star teams and hit 101 home runs. 

Fast forward 37 years from his debut in 1981, and Davis may now be the one teaching Giants how to hit balls over the wall in 2018. The Giants met with Davis Thursday about becoming the team's new hitting coach, according to The Mercury News

The only problem is, there is no open vacancy on the Giants' coaching staff. 

Current hitting coach Hensley Meulens is a candidate for the Tigers' head coaching vacancy, but reports surfaced Thursday that former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire will take that role. Meulens could become a candidate to manage another team or take a different spot on the Giants' staff. 

The Giants' offense sputtered in 2017. Overall, the offense ranked 23rd in batting average (.249), 29th in runs scored (639) and last in home runs (128). By comparison, the Pirates were the next worst team at hitting home runs in 2017 and still launched 23 more long balls than the Giants. 

Over his 19-year career, Davis hit 350 home runs. He has spent the last three years as the Red Sox's hitting instructor.