I guess this is what happens when you’re undone by Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth: You depress the nearest panic button.
The Giants have benched third baseman Pablo Sandoval for today’s Game 3, replacing him with the legendary Mike Fontenot. This is the same Sandoval, nicknamed Kung Fu Panda, who hit .333 last season but who has withered (figuratively speaking; literally he’s still rather rotund) of late. “It’d be nice to have Pablo where he was last year,” said Bruce Bochy, the Giants’ manager, “but we don’t.”
More from Bochy. (Less, actually.) The Giants won’t designate their Game 4 starter until Game 3 is done. The thinking is that San Fran will throw Tim Lincecum on short rest if they lose today and Madison Bumgarner if they win. But they’re not saying.
The Braves have already said what they’re doing: Derek Lowe will start Game 4 on three days’ rest, and he’s happy about it. “Adrenaline kicks in,” Lowe said. “I’ll make myself available for Game 5 if there is one … I’ve always loved this time of year. I’d rather be out there failing than not trying.”
Let’s be clear: Lowe would not be available to start Game 5 — “That’s [Tommy] Hanson’s game,” Bobby Cox said today — but he might be needed to close. (He used to be a reliever, you know.)
The Braves are indeed moving to remove Billy Wagner from their active roster and will, pending MLB approval, replace him with Takashi Saito, who as we know has difficulty working on consecutive days. (Except that there would be a travel day between Games 4 and 5, so never mind.)
Cox on Wagner: “We threw him a little bit in the tunnel, and he can’t go at all.”
This would rule Wagner out of not just this series but the NLCS. That’s assuming the Braves advance, a possibility that is obviously making Bochy antsy.)But the rule of postseason is to worry about tomorrow when it arrives, and before this is done it’s conceivable Ankiel could be pressed into relief duty. (He used to pitch, you know.)
And that’s where we are, two hours before Game 3 is set to begin: The Braves were all but done — down 1-0 in the series and 4-0 in Game 2 — but now face the possibility of clinching this thing at home tomorrow. And the Kung Fu Panda has been planted on the pine after going 1-for-6 in Games 1 and 2, which means center fielder Andres Torres should be concerned, too. He went 1-for-8.
With that, the floor is open for questions, comments and your claims that Bochy, by benching Sandoval, has expressed urgency in a way Cox rarely does in October. Which is why — see, I’m making your argument for you! — Bochy’s Padres beat Cox’s Braves in the 1998 NLCS even though Bochy put the whole thing at risk by trying (and failing) to close out the series by deploying starter Kevin Brown in relief in Game 5. I’ll be here all day, and I’d love your company. And I say thanks, as ever, in advance.