Giants predictably pick Matt Cain as Game 1 playoff starter

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One of the nice things about clinching a playoff spot early is that you can line up your rotation optimally and the Giants are doing just that, with manager Bruce Bochy announcing that Matt Cain will start Game 1 of the NLDS.

When that will be and who that will be against isn’t known yet, but Cain getting the series-opening nod is obviously anything but a surprise.

Cain made his final regular season start last night against the Dodgers and was on a pitch count, exiting after five innings of two-run ball.

In addition to throwing a perfect game on June 13 he also started the All-Star game for the National League and finishes the season with a career-best 2.79 ERA and 193/51 K/BB ratio in 219 innings.

No official announcement has been made beyond Cain, but Madison Bumgarner figures to start Game 2 and the Giants have already said they’ll find spots for all five starters (Tim Lincecum, Ryan Vogelsong, Barry Zito) on the playoff roster.

Another interestingly named player is promoted by the Pirates

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When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.

The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.

Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.

It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.

Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.

Manny Machado teaches us to never give up

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The Rays beat the Orioles last night, but the play of the game belonged to an Oriole defender.

Evan Longoria was batting and he chopped a ball foul down the third base line. At least it started out foul. As we all know, however, it doesn’t matter where the ball starts, it matters where it is when it crosses the bag.

Manny Machado knows this and didn’t give up on the ball despite it starting several feet in foul territory. He watched it come back, stayed with it and threw out Longoria who, unlike Machado, did give up on it, assuming he’d merely get a strike and another hack. Watch:

Longoria would get Machado back, however, fielding a ball Machado smoked to third base in the ninth inning, recording the second to last out of the game.