Giants Blank Dodgers Second Straight Time Behind Lincecum and Posey (Again)

Buster Posey was scintillating at the plate and on defense and Tim Lincecum tossed a real gem as the Giants won their fifth straight by shutting out the Dodgers at AT&T Park, 4-0 tonight.

TIM LINCECUM. On a tear, ERA down to 2.04.

TIM LINCECUM. On a tear, ERA down to 2.04.

Except for the fact that he walked LA’s starting pitcher, Brett Anderson (which never ceases to annoy the crap out of me), Lincecum was about as close to perfect as you can get. Posey drove in three of the four runs and made a spectacular catch over the Dodgers’ dugout fence.

In picking up his fourth win of the season, Lincecum also dropped his ERA to a remarkable 2.04. He came into the game at 2.35.

The Giants are now just 2-1/2 games back of the league-leading Dodgers, with whom they finish their three-game brief homestand tomorrow with a rare mid-week day game. Madison Bumgarner starts for the Giants, facing LA ace Clayton Kershaw. He has struggled against the Giants this year, making six starts against them and having an 0-1 record to show for it. His ERA against San Francisco is 5.59.

Bumgarner, meanwhile, has four starts against the Dodgers, a 1-1 record and an impressive ERA (3.16) and an absolutely brilliant WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) of 0.97.

Couple that with the fact that LA is winless in AT&T Park this year and I’m going out on a limb here and predict a rare Giants’ sweep. It may even be a series shutout sweep. Final score? 3-0.

Go, Giants!

Giants Bats Quiet, Dodgers Quieter in Shutout

The Giants shut out the LA Dodgers at AT&T Park tonight, 2-0 behind Tim Hudson (2-3) who gave the men in orange and black 6-1/3 innings of solid pitching, scattering five hits. Sergio Romo got credit for a hold and Pablo Casilla nabbed the save.

Buster Posey was the offensive story for the Giants, collecting the only RBI of the strange night game. The Giants left nine runners on base and hit only 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position. But tonight it was enough to win their fourth straight.

Every other team in the NL West won tonight but the G-Men picked up a full game on the Dodgers and are now 3.5 games back at 21-18.

Tomorrow’s game pits Tim Lincecum (3-2, 2.43) against the Dodgers’ Brett Anderson (2-1, 3.50). Timmy’s coming off a rough start in Cincinnati where he went just 4-2/3 while giving up five hits and three earned runs before giving way to the pen. But his two previous outings were strong. Back in front of the home crowd, I think he rebounds and pitches a solid game to lead the Giants to their fifth straight victory. Call it 5-2.

Lots of Good News for Giants Fans After Sweep of Angels

TIM LINCECUM. Great outing vs Angels, on mound and at plate!

TIM LINCECUM. Great outing vs Angels, on mound and at plate!

The San Francisco Giants completed their second three-game sweep of the young season Sunday, dominating the Los Angeles Angeles in a 5-0 masterpiece that featured a sterling pitching performance from Tim Lincecum (2-2, 2.40) and lead-off back-to-back first-inning homers by Nori Aoki and Joe Panik. The Giants offense banged out 10 hits while Lincecum scattered three over eight full innings of dominant work.

The homers were the first of the season for the 1-2 hitters in the Giants lineup and were followed by a shot off the bat of Angel Pagan that barely missed clearing the wall in right-center and gave him a triple. Just to rub salt in the wound, Lincecum collected two clean singles and a walk.

San Francisco has won eight of 11 following a 4-10 start and is now just a game under the .500 mark at 12-13. Considering how badly the season started, they should be feeling much less anxious now.

Next up are a three-game home stand against the Padres followed by four at AT&T Park with the Marlins before a brief road trip. The Pods are two games better than the Giants (14-12) and both teams are coming off three-game winning streaks. The Fish meanwhile sport the same record as the Giants at the moment. This feels to me like a chance for the Giants to gain some ground; they should win the majority of the remaining games on this home stand and end the series at something like 18-15.

Madison Bumgarner (2-1, 3.73) gets the start tonight as he faces off against Tyson Ross (1-2, 4.56). Ross emerged victorious in his previous meeting with the Giants this year at Petco Park on April 12.

The Padres have dropped six of their last 10 outings while the Giants have won seven of theirs.

I look for MadBum to have a good outing tonight as he learns from Lincecum’s sharpness Sunday and expect the Giants to win by three tonight. (Nope, I never give up.)

Go, Giants!

Running Out of Things to Say About the Giants

Chris Heston became the unlikely stopper for the Giants on Saturday, leading them to a victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks. But a team is only as good as the guy who pitches the day after the stopper does his job. And on Sunday, Tim Hudson was shaky, ineffective and in trouble from the opening gun. I couldn’t figure out why Bruce Bochy left him in so long.

Giants' Tim Hudson blew up early and never recovered.

Giants’ Tim Hudson blew up early and never recovered.

In the end, it was as it had been for eight of the previous nine games as the G-men started a new losing streak with a 5-1 defeat at the hands of the D-Backs. Their record is now 4-10 and at .266 they are the third worst team in baseball. Only Milwaukee (.167) and Miami (.231) have worse records.

This time, the Giants did do one thing different. Whereas in most of the recent losses, they’ve wasted opportunity after opportunity, this time they just didn’t create any chances to waste. They stranded only five base runners and only two of them in scoring position. They just didn’t hit at all as Jeremy Hellickson tossed 6-2/3 innings of decent ball, scattering eight hits and giving up just one earned run.

Hudson, meanwhile, fell behind 2-0 in the first and never really recovered, leaving after five innings of work for another non-quality start.

Today, at long last, the Giants get a day off. They are the only team in the majors to have been forced to endure 14 consecutive games to open the season, a scheduling snafu I refuse to see as an accident. As far back as I’ve been able to research it, no other team has been forced to go 14 straight right out of Spring Training without a day off. The D-backs, by comparison, are enjoying their second day off today. That grueling schedule has no doubt played a part in the Giants’ poor start and MLB should be ashamed of itself for such a stupid move. But at the end of the day, professional players need to overcome those kinds of obstacles and the Giants clearly have not.

Tomorrow, the Dodgers, leading the NL West at 9-3, come into AT&T Park to face Tim Lincecum (0-1, 2.25) in the opener. They’ll throw Brett Anderson (1-0, 3.27) at the home team. The Dodgers have played nine of their first 12 at Dodger Stadium and are on a seven-game winning streak.

The odds are stacked against the orange-and-black in this series. They have the second worst runs scored vs runs allowed margin in all of baseball, having been outscored by 25 compared to the Brewers’ 35.

I’m afraid the Dodgers will continue the Giants’ losing streak despite a good effort from Lincecum.

Los Angeles 4, San Francisco 1.

Jim & Laurie in Scottsdale Play Blog Correspondent for Me

Laurie Paegelow and Jim Staebler are hanging out in Scottsdale this week taking in the Giants’ third week of Spring Training. I asked Laurie how she’s enjoying the adventure so far. She answered:

It would be better if they actually won a game. 🙂
But that’s just the icing on the cake. We’re having fun even though its HOT.
Here are some of the pictures they’re sharing with us on this blog. I can feel the spring in the air and the itch in my travelin’ shoes!
New third-sacker Casey McGehee walking by the field box seats.

New third-sacker Casey McGehee walking by the field box seats.

Tim Hudson looking good as he starts for the G-Men

Tim Hudson looking good as he starts for the G-Men

Tim Lincecum on the mound, having a better-than-expected spring

Tim Lincecum on the mound, having a better-than-expected spring

Hunter Strickland takes his turn on the hill in what's been a disappointing spring

Hunter Strickland takes his turn on the hill in what’s been a disappointing spring

Possible closer Sergio Romo seems to be getting his groove back

Possible closer Sergio Romo seems to be getting his groove back

Thursday's lineup card in the Giants dugout. Looks nearly like I'd expect to see it most of the season.

Thursday’s lineup card in the Giants dugout. Looks nearly like I’d expect to see it most of the season.

It’s Spring Training Time…and All’s (Mostly) Right With My (Sports) World

Hooray! Spring training officially got under way yesterday when the pitchers and catchers reported to Scottsdale for the Giants’ camp. In a few days the position players check in and on Feb. 24, the first intrasquad scrimmage takes place. IN short….

Baseball is Back, Baby!

Spring training games begin on March 3 with the Giants facing crosstown rivals the Oakland A’s. The regular season officially opens on Monday, April 6, with a night game in Arizona as the NL West rival Cardinals open their home season. Home opener is set for the following monday, April 13, in an afternoon set with the Rockies. This marks the first time in a while that I can recall the Giants’ home opener coming this late in the month.

I expect the Giants to contend in the NL West, but the division has been strengthened a lot by the San Diego Padres’ aggressive off-season moves. They’ve acquired no fewer than 11 players to make this an entirely different team than the one that finished 2014 at 77-85, good for third in the division. They weren’t very competitive and it looks like management took that finish hard…and to heart. Assuming it doesn’t take the Padres forever to gel — and it could — this will be a solid three-team division; the G-men could well end up third.

Early speculation is that one-time ace Tim Lincecum will be slotted as the No. 5 starter and occasional long reliever. He’s been working with his father during the off-season and the last time he did that, he had an enormous year. Here’s hoping the talisman works again. I’d love to see him return to form and to the Starting Four.

One guy to watch in the pitcher-catcher category is backup backstop Hector Sanchez. His 2014 season was cut short by not one but two concussions but he’s eager to get back into the lineup again in 2015. Giants manager Bruce Bochy confirmed that Sanchez will take his place behind the plate on Thursday and catch the first spring training bullpen sessions . He appeared slimmer when he reported and he moved up his scheduled physical in a demonstration of his eagerness.