From Comcast SportsNetSAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy plans to start a pair of 16-game winners in the first two games of the National League division series. After that, he says he's not sure what he'll do.Matt Cain will pitch Game 1 against the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday and left-hander Madison Bumgarner will go in Game 2 on Sunday. The two tied for the team lead in victories and were instrumental down the stretch when San Francisco won the NL West for the second time in three years.Two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum and 15-game winner Barry Zito have also been key for the Giants. But Bochy said Thursday he's unsure whether he'll use the two in starting roles or out of the bullpen. That goes for Ryan Vogelsong as well."More than anything it's really vital for us to have all hands on deck here the first two games," Bochy said in explaining his reluctance to name a Game 3 starter. "If we want to use some guys in the rotation early here, then we'll do that. We wanted to keep our options open."The uncertainty over the back end of the rotation might seem strange given that starting pitchers are creatures of habit and generally stay on a carefully mapped out throwing routine in between starts.Zito, who was left off the Giants postseason roster entirely two years ago when the franchise won its first World Series title since 1954, doesn't think that will be an issue.The 34-year-old left-hander has started 172 games and made six relief appearances since signing a 126 million, seven-year contract with San Francisco before the 2007 season."I've (come) out of the bullpen many times as a starter here," Zito said. "A lot of the other guys have done that, too. You change your routine going into it. You can't be stupid about it. Other than that, if you're on the mound you're on the mound."The Giants gathered for a voluntary workout at AT&T Park and players took batting practice while Bumgarner threw a bullpen session as stadium workers hurried to get the stadium ready for Saturday's Game 1. Truckloads of merchandise arrived throughout the afternoon and red, white and blue bunting was hung around the waterfront ballpark.Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker was a surprise visitor to the workout.Baker, the former Giants skipper who recently rejoined the Reds after missing 11 games while recovering from a mini-stroke and irregular heartbeat, stood behind the batting cage and joked with current San Francisco scout Felipe Alou -- who replaced Baker as manager.If Baker hoped to get an insight as to what the Giants plans are for their rotation, he was disappointed.Cain, the NL starter in the All-Star game who earlier this season pitched the first perfect game in franchise history, was an easy call for Game 1. Likewise with Bumgarner, the 23-year-old who was second on the team in ERA, strikeouts and innings pitched."You look at the years that Matt and Madison have had, that's why they're going Game 1 and Game 2," Bochy said. "We feel like these two have earned these starts and that's why they're out there."The rest of the rotation is unclear for various reasons.Zito was one of San Francisco's top pitchers down the stretch to finish with his best season yet since the 2002 AL Cy Young Award joined the Giants. He won his last five starts and seven decisions in the regular season, and hasn't lost since Aug. 2.More critically for San Francisco, the Giants went 11-0 after Aug. 6 with Zito on the mound. That's vastly different from 2010 when he won only one game over the final two months."I'm just happy to be here," Zito said. "Happy to be here, happy to be on the roster, happy to be having fun playing baseball right now. Everything else is gravy."Lincecum, the Giants former ace who lost 10 of his first 13 decisions this season, rebounded well but still finished with a career-high 15 losses.The question for Bochy is whether to keep Lincecum in the rotation or put him the bullpen two years after the right-hander pitched the Giants past the Rangers in the Game 5 World Series clincher at Texas.Vogelsong, 35, would seem the most likely of the three to go to the bullpen. He struggled over the final seven weeks of the season when he had a 6.75 ERA over his final 10 starts."We may use Timmy in the pen, we may use Vogelsong in the pen or Zito," Bochy said. "They'll know exactly what's going on. We'll make sure that they're ready. That's right now what we think is the best way to about it."
Here is what you need to know on this Friday, September 22, two days before the Washington Redskins play the Raiders at FedEx Field.
Today’s schedule: Practice 12:05; Jay Gruden and Matt Cavanaugh press conferences, open locker room after practice, approx. 1:30
—Monday night Redskins @ Chiefs (10/2) 10
—Monday night Redskins @ Eagles (10/23) 31
—Cowboys @ Redskins (10/29) 37
What they’re saying about the Redskins
The Washington football team — your most persistent headache, the squad whose light hadn’t even flickered during the preseason and the first game — awoke Sunday with a kind of performance that can bring a team together, that can be called upon in difficult times throughout the long year.
This is a good, one paragraph summary of what we saw on Sunday in Los Angeles. It wasn’t any reason to throw a party or anything but it was a sign of life. They avoided getting crushed by fans and the media for being 0-2. At 1-1 they have life, especially with the rest of the teams in the NFC East experiencing some struggles as well.
Washington can be a force when its rushing attack gets going. Over the past three seasons, the Redskins are 15-2-1 when rushing for at least 90 yards as a team (3-13 when they don't). The 229 rushing yards Sunday against the Rams were Washington's second most in that span.
They jumped from No. 24 to No 17 in these rankings, more of a reflection of the overreaction to the loss to the Eagles than any actual improvement in the team. I think the Redskins belong somewhere in the middle of the pack right now and that is where most have them now.
They ran all over the Rams, which is a good sign for the offense. Now they have to amp up the passing game.
This is a good point on ramping up the passing game. Even a moderately efficient performance throwing the ball would have meant a dominant win for the Redskins. They won’t be able to run for 229 yards every week and Kirk Cousins has to get it going.
I suppose most will explain this in one of two narratives:
1. Cravens was never committed to football, and Washington needed to move on rather than letting him continue to be a distraction.
2. The bumbling Washington brain trust committed another blunder, this time blindsiding a player who was trying to right his life off the field.
The reality is probably somewhere between those two sentiments. Coaches need to know who is on their roster going forward, and the 22-year-old can use the time to chart a clear path forward. Remember, a Washington legend once took a year off because his heart wasn't in the sport.
The Cravens story remains a puzzle with many missing pieces. The key may be in the 15-minute conversation he had with Doug Williams on the sideline before the Texas-USC game the night before the Redskins played the Rams. Perhaps the talk convinced Williams that Cravens is not in the proper frame of mind to return to the team and that the additional two weeks they could have taken before putting him on the reserve/left team list would not make any difference. It seems like too much of a coincidence that two days after Cravens talks face to face with a member of the Redskins brass for the first time since he left the team a week before the season opener.
That’s just speculation but that’s all we have at the moment. By the way, the legend who once took a year off was John Riggins, although his 1980 absence was more of a contract holdout than it was his heart not being in the sports, although there was an element of the latter involved.
In case you missed it
ATLANTA -- R.A. Dickey frustrated Washington with his knuckleball for eight innings, Ozzie Albies had three hits and the Atlanta Braves beat the Nationals 3-2 on Thursday night.
After Ryan Zimmerman's leadoff homer in the second inning, the 42-year-old Dickey gave up only one hit -- a two-out single by Trea Turner in the third -- over the next five innings. Turner was picked off first base.
Dickey (10-10) gave up two runs, four hits and no walks. He made a strong case that the Braves should pick up his $8 million club option for 2018.
Zimmerman lined his homer into the left-field seats, tying the game at 1. He set a career high with his 34th homer, his fourth off Dickey this season.
Arodys Vizcaino struck out the side in a perfect ninth for his 12th save in 15 chances. It was a strong return to form after Vizcaino walked all three batters he faced in a blown save Wednesday night.
The Braves scored two runs in the fourth off Tanner Roark (13-10). Albies singled, moved to third on catcher Matt Wieters' wild pickoff attempt and scored the go-ahead run on Freddie Freeman's fly ball to deep left field. Nick Markakis doubled past Zimmerman at first base and scored on Johan Camargo's single up the middle.
The Nationals trimmed the Braves' lead to one in the eighth. Anthony Rendon doubled to left field and scored on Wieters' two-out single.
Ender Inciarte continued his push for 200 hits when he led off the first with a triple to right field. It was his 191st hit, the third-highest total in the majors. Inciarte scored on Albies' single.
The game was delayed several minutes in the middle of the eighth. There was confusion as Nationals manager Dusty Baker attempted to make several defensive changes and had to go over the changes with home plate umpire Nic Lentz, who also took questions from Braves manager Brian Snitker.