Giants using their survival instincts

U.S. President Barack Obama receives a team jersey from the 2010 World Series Champions San...

U.S. President Barack Obama receives a team jersey from the 2010 World Series Champions San Francisco Giants in the East Room of the White House in Washington July 25, 2011. Pictured are (front L-R): Manager Bruce Bochy, Hall of Fame player Willie Mays, Obama and General Manager Brian Sabean. (REUTERS/Larry Downing)

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:55 AM ET

San Francisco Giants general manager Brian Sabean once referred to his team as cockroaches; as in, they keep coming back and can't be killed.

But the St. Louis Cardinals are testing the theory as baseball's version of

Survivor: NLCS got underway Sunday.

St. Louis averaged 6.5 runs in its five-game victory against the Washington Nationals and scored six in the wild card play-in with the Atlanta Braves.

Sunday, the Cardinals mugged San Francisco starter Madison Bumgarner for all the runs in a 6-4 win.

It extends the Giants' streak of not having a starter go more than six innings in these playoffs.

That could prove fatal if the series goes deep and the bullpen gets more fatigued.

Not only that, but the Cardinals have Jason Motte and his 42 saves to close games. The Giants have someone named Undetermined.

As for those cockroaches?

"I could put nine of you in a microwave," Sabean has told members of this teamin 2012, "turn it up for 20 minutes and eight of you are walking out. We can't kill you."

The Dodgers couldn't do it with superstars such as Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, and Josh Beckett. The Giants shrugged off Melky Cabrera's suspension; came back to beat the Reds, who had a 2-0 lead in the NL Division Series. And, in this one, they came right back after seeing their own starter get shelled, by shelling Reds starter Lance Lynn, knocking him out with their own four-run fourth.

But they didn't come back. Not this time.

And, while not yet dead, the Giants needed this game. Badly. The bullpen has been superb (52/3 hitless innings in Game 1) but it is pitching on borrowed time. Plus, after Bumgarner, the starting rotation has a distinct lean to the right and the Cardinals have pounded right-handers all season, finishing third in the league against them with a .274 average and a .778 OPS. The Giants are expected to start Ryan Vogelsong for Game 2 on Monday and then likely Matt Cain. Game Four? Maybe Tim Lincecum. Everybody duck!

Perhaps they could just skip the starters, and go right to the bullpen.

Everybody duck!

MAN OF ALL SEASONS

Broadcaster Joe Buck called the New York Giants-San Francisco 49ers NFL game at Candlestick Park, then hopped the trolley car for the six kilometre run at AT&T Park, to work the Cardinals-Giants baseball game.

So what happens when he gets there? Partner Tim McCarver got all prickly when Buck disagreed with McCarver’s analysis of the team’s strengths and weaknesses. Morale of the story? Never second-guess a Hall of Famer. Unless you want to have your head bitten off ... Putting the Bum in Garner. Lynn hadn’t walked in 54 plate appearances this year. Then Bumgarner put him on first in a 41-pitch second inning.

SAY WHAT?

“We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

No, the Giants’ Hunter Pence did not say it, doing his latest bug-eyed southern preacher imitation.

That was British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, rallying England during World War II. But, evidently it holds for the ballyard, too, given Pence’s passionate address to his team prior to Game 1.

Fitting, too. You know, considering that two-run bomb David Freese dropped on the Giants in the second inning.

CRABBY INTERLUDE

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has a hole in his starting rotation and plugs it by going to his bullpen for Lynn -- a 25-year-old who was 17-5 with a 3.67 ERA in 29 starts during the regular season. When John Farrell has a hole in his starting rotation he gets Joel Carreno.

When Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez hits the skids they plug the hole with Raul Ibanez, who can’t keep the ball in the park. He’s hit three homers in a blink. When Farrell goes to his bench he gets Yorvit Torrealba, Mike McCoy or Anthony Gose, who also hit three homers -- except it took them 98 games. Combined.

Toronto has money and good players. But the Yankees have deeper pockets.

And, the Cardinals have deeper talent. And that’s why they are always contenders and the closest the Blue Jays get to post-season is bringing in guys for Flashback Fridays.

BE AFRAID, BE VERY AFRAID

About the only hitter Lynn wasn¹t wary about, evidently, was the pitcher’s spot.

Asked at the pregame press conference, which Giants’ hitters he was particularly concerned about, Lynn mentioned Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Pence. Then he talked about Angel Pagan.

And Brandon Belt. Not sure how he felt about Willie Mays.

CRABBY INTERLUDE II

So the Jays are building through the draft, eh?

Alex Anthopoulos may yet turn out to be baseball’s next boy genius but consider Posey. He was the Giants’ first-round pick in 2008 and hit .305 with 18 homers his first season. This year he won a National League batting title.

That same year the Jays’ picked David Cooper. He hit .300 with 14 homers this year, too. Unfortunately 10 of them were at Las Vegas. True, he was selected 13 slots behind Posey but it’s just one more thing to make a frustrated Jays’ fan wonder if this franchise is developing the first symptoms of Cubness.

AROUND THE BASES

Jose Feliciano doing the U.S. national anthem, with acoustic guitar, was different. Haunting. passionate ... Yadier Molina. Not the Molina the Jays had. Right family. Wrong brother. Figures ... Face time: Looks like the hockey playoff beard thing is getting legs. And, if the Cardinals advance to the World Series, Lynn could end up looking like the Abominable Snowman's scarier twin ... Carpenter starts Game 2 for the Cardinals. In the playoffs he is Jack Morris incarnate, 10-2 on the all-grit post-season team.

bill.lankhof@sunmedia.ca


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