Hunter Pence providing no protection for Buster Posey

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The Giants acquired Hunter Pence to drive in runs hitting behind Buster Posey. And that’s exactly what he did in the regular season. In 59 games after coming over from the Phillies, Pence racked up 45 RBI. That pace would have led the NL had he maintained it for the full year.

Of course, it’s been a different story in the postseason. Pence hasn’t driven in a single run in eight games to date. He’s 5-for-31 with no extra-base hits and just one walk. In Wednesday’s loss, he hit with five men on base and advanced none of them. After Posey was intentionally walked to get to him in the third, he hit into a double play.

Pence also went 0-for-9 in his final three regular-season games, leaving him with a .125 average in his last 11 games overall.

Perhaps the Giants should have seen this coming. For all of the runs batted in, Pence didn’t exactly set the world afire after arriving in July. He hit just .219 with seven homers in 219 at-bats. His season OPS of .742 was his lowest in six years as a major leaguer.

Still, since the Giants decided not to activate Melky Cabrera, they’ve pretty much backed themselves into a corner with their outfield situation. They may replace Pence in the fifth spot behind Posey, but there aren’t any attractive options as replacements. The most likely option would involve moving Gregor Blanco up to the third spot and dropping Pablo Sandoval to fifth. Pence will remain in the starting lineup either way, but he may bat sixth or seventh in Thursday’s Game 4.

Clayton Kershaw might return to the Dodgers’ rotation next week

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Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.

Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.

Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.