CINCINNATI -- The Giants' regular shortstop combines impressive range with an impossibly strong throwing arm. He spent his formative years in the East Bay and wears No. 35.Today, that's Brandon Crawford. About 40 years ago, it was Chris Speier. Speier, the Reds' bench coach, broke into the Majors with San Francisco in 1971 and proceeded to make three All-Star teams. He returned to the Giants in 1987 for the final three seasons of a 19-year playing career. A connoisseur of shortstops, Speier is duly impressed by his 25-year-old successor. "From a defensive standpoint, I love him," Speier said. "I think he's everything you can expect from a shortstop. He has a great arm. He stays under control. What's hard is not seeing him on a more consistent basis; you get glimpses of him for three games here and three games there. But defensively, gosh, he makes all the plays." Crawford is the second everyday Giants shortstop to wear No. 35 since Speier's heyday. Rich Aurilia was the other. Though numerous non-shortstops have worn No. 35 since Speier stopped playing, Giants clubhouse manager Mike Murphy, who issues jersey numbers, found Aurilia and Crawford worthy of receiving the number. The Reds-Giants Division Series gave Crawford an opportunity to speak to Speier and tell him that he felt proud to wear No. 35. "It's an honor to have that number passed on like that," Speier said. "It means a lot to me."
Bochy credits Reds' pitching, still confident in bats
CINCINNATI -- The offensive numbers paint a particular portrait, one that suggests the Giants should be concerned. Manager Bruce Bochy has a different perspective, however.
"I think you look at the first game, we hit some balls good and had some tough luck there," said Bochy, whose team trails the Reds, 2-0, in the National League Division Series. "The second game, we just ran into a very well-pitched ballgame. Really saw a guy who was hitting spots, changing speeds."
San Francisco has just six harmless singles, two doubles and a solo home run through two contests. The Giants are hitless in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position. Still, Bochy prefers to credit Cincinnati's pitching. Six Reds hurlers combined to limit the Giants to two runs on Saturday, and right-hander Bronson Arroyo yielded just one hit and a walk in seven dazzling innings on Sunday.
"It's two games and we're facing a team with good pitching," Bochy said. "You don't expect to score a lot of runs, but you have to score runs and we understand that. There is not one reason why we're not hitting better. I think you have to look at the pitching that we're facing. They've done a good job at this point."
No Giants hitter has tallied more than two hits. Bochy noted the struggles atop his batting order, where center fielder Angel Pagan and second baseman Marco Scutaro are a combined 1-for-17. The skipper penciled in the same lineup for Tuesday's Game 3 as he used in the first two tilts, confident that his club can turn around its offensive woes.
"We have put those games behind us and this team has bounced back," Bochy said. "No question, we've got to get the bats going."
If Giants force Game 4, Posey will catch Zito
CINCINNATI -- Barry Zito made 32 starts during the regular season, and Hector Sanchez served as his batterymate for 25 of them.
Should the Giants force a Game 4 in the National League Division Series, however, skipper Bruce Bochy indicated that Buster Posey would crouch behind the plate when Zito takes the hill.
Zito fared a shade better this year when Sanchez was his backstop. In 143 1/3 innings, he compiled a 4.08 ERA and held opposing hitters to a .254 average and .740 OPS. When Posey strapped on the catching gear, Zito posted a 4.39 ERA in 41 frames, as the opposition hit .294 with an .817 OPS off the southpaw.
"Every catcher has his own style," Zito said, "but I think the most important thing for me is to go over the game plan, regardless of who it is, and that's something I've done with both guys."
Zito, 34, faced the Reds twice this season, and he limited the high-powered Cincinnati offense to one run in six innings on each occasion. Sanchez, a 22-year-old rookie from Venezuela, caught Zito in both contests.
The Giants have been triumphant the last 11 times Zito has taken the mound. In September and October, the soft-tossing lefty has gone 5-0 with a 3.03 ERA. That includes a critical victory over the Dodgers on Sept. 9, a game in which Zito blanked Los Angeles through 6 1/3 innings with Posey as his receiver. That served as evidence that, for Zito, it shouldn't matter who starts behind the plate.
"I was encouraged that Posey and I had a good game plan and a good game against the Dodgers in early September, and we were on the same page going in," Zito said. "So I have no doubt we will be on the same page [Wednesday], too."