Giants keeping tabs on former mate Molina

Giants keeping tabs on former mate Molina

SAN FRANCISCO -- As the Giants prepared for Game 4 of the National League Championship Series on Wednesday at AT&T Park, one of their former teammates was in the midst of his quest to advance to the World Series.

Bengie Molina, who spent three-plus seasons with the Giants before being traded to the Rangers on July 1, was playing in New York in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series, as Texas tried to clinch the pennant.

Molina, 36, was a clubhouse favorite in San Francisco and a key component in the growth of Giants starting pitchers Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez. In both of his NL Cy Young Award-winning seasons, Lincecum gave Molina credit for putting him in position to succeed.

On Wednesday, before the Giants tried to take a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Phillies, Lincecum said he'll always owe a great deal to Molina.

"He's definitely molded me into a better pitcher," Lincecum said. "He's the one calling the pitches and I'm the one agreeing, and obviously I get the last say and everything, but if it hadn't been for him reading all the batters, knowing how the batters swing, he's a seasoned vet that knows a lot about every single guy that comes up."

With the Giants and Rangers each among the final four teams standing, there is a chance Molina could face his former team, as well as step into the batter's box against the standout pitchers he helped mold. Truthfully, Lincecum said he wasn't sure how he would pitch to his former battery mate.

"Obviously, I've seen him just save my butt a few times in games with home runs on low pitches and just funky pitches, pitches out of the zone," Lincecum said. "I don't know. Maybe I'll just throw them right down the middle and maybe I'll get away with it. We'll see."