SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants fans whose allegiance dates to the mid-1970s should have shrugged and yawned when they learned of Jonathan Sanchez's bold predictions for this weekend's showdown against San Diego.

John "The Count" Montefusco, who at the outset of his career was to the Giants what Tim Lincecum is now, made a habit of insisting in advance that he would subdue an opponent.

That was a major difference between Montefusco's forecasts and the one Sanchez issued last Sunday, when he declared that the Giants would sweep San Diego en route to reaching the postseason.

"I only made predictions for myself," Montefusco said Tuesday, explaining that he wouldn't refer to games in which he didn't pitch. "Granted, with [Matt] Cain, Lincecum and [Barry] Zito, they can sweep any team easily."

Montefusco, who met Sanchez during a June gathering of Giants pitchers who had thrown no-hitters, was surprised that the usually soft-spoken left-hander had made such a boast. Told that Sanchez's remarks followed a disappointing four-inning outing Sunday at Atlanta, Montefusco theorized that the pitcher might have been goading himself to stay in his next game longer -- and trying to coax manager Bruce Bochy to keep him on the mound an inning or two more.

"Hopefully it instills confidence in him," Montefusco said of Sanchez. "He'll go out there and shut them out or hold them to one or two runs."

That's usually what Montefusco accomplished in his early years as a Giant, which prompted his brash prognostications.

"I could throw a 96 mile-an-hour fastball and a 90-mph slider," Montefusco said. "Most of my predictions came true."

One of his first didn't. Shortly after reaching the Majors as a September callup in 1974, Montefusco blanked Cincinnati on seven hits. He guaranteed that he'd duplicate the performance when he faced the Reds six days later. Instead, he allowed five runs and was knocked out after two innings.

En route to winning the National League Rookie of the Year Award in 1975, Montefusco announced in radio interviews in San Francisco and Los Angeles that he would beat the Dodgers on July 4. He clung to a 1-0 lead in the ninth inning when Los Angeles put two runners on base with two outs. The Dodger Stadium crowd of 52,621 smelled blood -- Montefusco's -- and rocked the ballpark.

"The mound had to be bouncing six or seven inches from the vibrations from all those people," recalled Montefusco, who coaxed Bill Buckner's foul popup to end the game.

By the following season, Montefusco mostly held his tongue.

"After those first three or four years, the hitters know what you've got, you get knocked around and you struggle," he said.

Bullpen a big part of Giants' success

SAN FRANCISCO -- It isn't often the majority of a manager's pregame interview centers around the bullpen, but one day after a lockdown performance, the strength of the Giants bullpen was the hot topic.

In Monday's 4-3 win over the Cubs, six relievers combined to toss 5 1/3 scoreless innings, holding Chicago to just two hits and walking only one. After Monday's game, Bruce Bochy said the bullpen was the key to the win, and the Giants manager reiterated that sentiment Tuesday.

"I think they can make a difference in the games down the stretch," Bochy said. "The bullpen's vital. They're going to be used. You've got to think you're going to play a lot of close games and it comes down to the bullpen getting it done for you and helping you out like our bullpen did last night."

Bochy also commented on the added experience Deadline additions Ramon Ramirez and Javier Lopez, who each pitched in the postseason for Boston, bring to the club.

Despite the use of six relievers and Ramirez having thrown the past three days, Bochy said everyone would be available Tuesday.

In the past nine games entering Tuesday, the Giants bullpen had yielded only four earned runs in 28 1/3 innings (1.27 ERA) while holding opponents to a .147 clip.

Affeldt nearing rehab assignment

SAN FRANCISCO -- Jeremy Affeldt threw a "really encouraging" bullpen session Tuesday at AT&T Park, leaving the left-handed Giants reliever optimistic he's close to a rehab assignment.

It was the third consecutive day Affeldt (left oblique strain) threw a bullpen session, but Tuesday's 43-pitch session marked the first time he threw all three of his pitches.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Affeldt would likely begin a rehab assignment within 10 days.

Still, a return by the third week of August -- which Affeldt lightly targeted Monday -- might not be so imminent. With a full bullpen thanks to two Deadline moves, the Giants now have a surplus of relievers.

When asked if either Affeldt or fellow lefty Dan Runzler (dislocated left patella) -- who is scheduled to throw Wednesday for Rookie-level Arizona -- could potentially stay on their respective assignments until the rosters expand Sept. 1, Bochy admitted that it was a possibility.

"We'd see where we're at, but I will say this: When you look at our bullpen right now, they're all doing the job, and it does bother you if you have to push these guys too fast or too hard," Bochy said. "So if you need to give them a little bit more time, because of the job [the bullpen is] doing, that allows us to go the easy route."

Worth noting

Freddy Sanchez didn't start for the second straight game Tuesday, which manager Bruce Bochy said had been previously decided. Sanchez entered Monday's game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter, drawing a walk and striking out in two plate appearances. ... Bochy said he might give Pablo Sandoval a day off Wednesday, but the skipper added he thinks Sandoval has been swinging better of late. Sandoval's .323 home batting average (61-for-189) is the ninth-best in the National League.