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San Francisco Giants’ recent feast-or-famine hitting approach won’t play well at home

San Francisco Giants' Hector Sanchez celebrates his grand slam against the Colorado Rockies as he circles the bases in the 11th inning of the Giants' 12-10 victory in 11 innings of a baseball game in Denver on Wednesday, April 23, 2014. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

San Francisco Giants’ Hector Sanchez celebrates his grand slam against the Colorado Rockies as he circles the bases in the 11th inning of the Giants’ 12-10 victory in 11 innings of a baseball game in Denver on Wednesday, April 23, 2014. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

It’s somewhat ironic that when the Giants return home on Friday they will honor play-by-play man Duane Kuiper with a bobblehead give-away commemorating Kuiper’s lone big-league home run.

The link is obvious. Kuiper played the first eight of his 12 big-league seasons with the Indians before finishing his career with four seasons in San Francisco.

On Aug. 27, 1977, Kuiper hit his only home run as an Indian. So with the Indians in town for an interleague series, it’s a good time for a bobblehead.

The ironic part is while the Giants honor a light-hitting infielder they come off a road trip on which their offense was fueled by the long ball.

The Giants belted six home runs in a 12-10 win over the Rockies on Wednesday. It was the first time in the Giants’ San Francisco era that they scored as many as 12 runs in a game with home runs accounting for all the scoring. The previous high was nine runs, last done in 1987.

Giants color man Mike Krukow said he thinks Wednesday’s outburst will be the day the Giants will look back on as the day that got the offense going.

We’re not so sure. The Giants scored 12 runs in their previous seven games, then matched that output on Wednesday.

When the Giants were struggling to score runs on the road trip, manager Bruce Bochy said his hitters looked like they were trying to hit 9-run homers each time they came to the plate.

But of the 21 runs the Giants scored on the road trip, 17 were scored on home runs. Here’s how the Giants scored their four other runs.

  • Two-run single by Angel Pagan in the 2nd inning Sunday vs. San Diego.
  • Run-scoring double play ball by Buster Posey in 3rd inning Tuesday vs. Colorado.
  • Run scores on error by pitcher in 9th inning Tuesday vs. Colorado.

The Giants rank third in the National League in home runs with 27. But 21 of those have been hit on the road. The Giants hit as many home runs in one game Wednesday in Colorado than they’ve hit in nine games this season at AT&T Park.

It’s a small sample size, but the Giants are 3-1 at home when they hit a home run — 2-3 when they don’t.

The Giants can’t depend on the long ball if they hope to win at AT&T. The Giants lead the NL is walks with 80, but they are 12th in the league in hitting (.234). But they have hit better at home (.243 to .227).

Giants 3, Dodgers 2 (12 inn.): Real hero of Giants’ late-night victory was not on the field

stayback

WP: Yusmeiro Petit (1-0)
HR: None

BOX SCORE

Sorry about the mid-afternoon blog post on Tuesday’s game. But it was a late night.

The night might have ended sooner — and with a much less happy result for the Giants — if not for the heroic efforts of one person in AT&T Park.

And he wasn’t wearing the No. 42. And every player Tuesday was wearing the No. 42.

No, instead it was the fan down the left-field line, who held back at least one person in the stands to prevent someone from possible interfering with Brandon Belt’s game-tying double in the ninth inning.

He was making the rounds as “Stand-Back Man” on Twitter. He could also be called the Anti-Bartman.

Here’s the situation: with one out and Angel Pagan on first base, Belt slaps a ball down the left-field line. The ball kicked off the wall along the stands. One fan held back another to keep from going after the ball in play. Pagan raced around the bases and scored the tying run of Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen.

Had a fan touched the ball in play, it would have been ruled a ground-rule double and Pagan would have been forced to return to third base.

Considering that Pablo Sandoval would strike out, Buster Posey would walk and Hunter Pence would fly out, it’s very likely that had a fan interfered with the ball, the Giants would have lost while leaving the bases loaded.

Well played, sir, well played.

LOADED PROBLEMS

Considering the Giants’ issues with the bases loaded, maybe the Dodgers should have walked Hector Sanchez and Angel Pagan to load the bases in the 12th.

The Giants loaded the bases in the fourth, but Michael Morse struck out and Brandon Crawford grounded out.

They loaded the bases in the fifth, but Posey flied to center.

They loaded the bases in the 10th, but Pagan popped out and Belt flied to left.

In the 12th, Crawford singled, went to second on a fielder’s choice and to third on a wild pitch.

Sanchez delivered a single off the glove of second baseman Justin Turner for the win.

BENCH TO THE RESCUE

Before Gregor Blanco’s triple on Sunday (when he was thrown out at the plate), the Giants’ bench of Blanco, Joaquin Arias, Ehire Adrianza, Juan Perez and Sanchez were 5 for 66 (.076).

Starting with Blanco’s triple, those five players have gone 4 for 7 with two walks.

That’s an encouraging sign.

Tuesday’s game was the Giants’ fifth consecutive one-run game. Three of those games went extra innings.

It was also the Giants’ second consecutive walk-off win.

If the Giants are going to continue to play tight games like that they are going to need two things: Solid production out of the bullpen and the bench.

They’ve received the production from the pen. They need more out of the bench.

WEDNESDAY

Ryan Vogelsong faces Paul Maholm in Game 2 of the series at 7:15 p.m. The Giants pounced on Maholm in his first start of the season. Vogelsong had better results in his most recent start after a sloppy debut in L.A.

On further review, don’t scrap MLB replay system, just make these fixes

First base umpire Bob Davidson tosses out Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell who objected to MLB's ruling of a an overturned fourth-inning force out at first base in a baseball game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium in New York, Sunday, April 13, 2014.  The Yankees Brian McCann scored on the play. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

First base umpire Bob Davidson tosses out Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell who objected to MLB’s ruling of a an overturned fourth-inning force out at first base in a baseball game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium in New York, Sunday, April 13, 2014. The Yankees Brian McCann scored on the play. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Two weeks into the season, and verdict is in.

Majore League Baseball’s new replay challenge system has its flaws. But compared to no system at all, it’s better than nothing.

The replay system was back in the news over the weekend after it failed to overturn a call in the Red Sox-Yankees game even though a replay clearly showed it should have been overturned.

The problem was that the replay official in New York didn’t have access to the replay that showed the umpire’s call was wrong. That sent Red Sox manager John Farrell into a tizzy.

The next night, when the Yankees won a replay challenge even though Farrell thought the replay was not conclusive, Farrell came out to argue. That earned him an automatic ejection.

Farrell then wondered if the system can’t get every call right, then what’s the point of having a system at all.

That kind of logic is borne out of Farrell’s well-warranted frustration. But it’s like saying if the police can’t catch every criminal, why have a police department at all.

Through Sunday this season, according to the website closecalls.com, there have been 84 replay challenges, of which 40 calls have been confirmed (including Saturday’s incorrect confirmation in New York), 28 calls have been overturned and 16 more calls have been allowed to stand because of inconclusive video evidence.

So that’s 28 botched calls that got corrected. That’s progress. The next step is to get almost all botched calls corrected. I’m not sure perfection is attainable.

And while the replay challenges have brought delays, they have eliminated most of the on-field arguments, which also delay games. We just never knew they delayed games because they were more entertaining to watch than watching umpires put on headphones and stand around for 2-3 minutes.

In 2013, according to closecalls.com, there were 180 ejections of players, coaches and managers. That averages out to about 1.0 per day.

In 2014 through Sunday, there have been five in the first two weeks of the season, or 0.36 per day — a decrease of more than 60 percent. And actually, four of those five occurred on Sunday. So through Saturday, there percentage was more like 0.08 per day.

Four of the five ejections were over balls/strike calls, which are not replay reviewable — nor should they be.

So that means more players are staying in the game, and managers too, which we can assume is making the game better.

Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said he thought replay would be a good thing for the game when the season started. Now, he’s not so sure.

One point that we do agree with McClendon on is he’s frustrated with the edict that MLB will not review the replay challenge system until after the season is over.

So here are suggestions that we’d make to improve the replay system.

1. All scoring plays are reviewable. Baseball needs to learn from the NFL’s scoring plays on replay. The NFL reviews all scoring plays. Baseball should do the same. Scoring plays are the most important plays in the game. Let’s make sure we get them right.

2. Umpires need to make everyone aware if a call was confirmed, overturned or allowed to stand because of inconclusive video evidence. This is an important distinction and will factor into other changes we propose. Again, the NFL does this. Officials will make a distinction betwen a call that was confirmed or allowed to stand. So if a player was called safe on the field and the umpire signals out after the replay, then clearly the call was overturned. But if the umpire signals safe, then we know the call was confirmed. But if the umpire makes another signal — perhaps pointing to the base or pointing to the ground — then signals safe, that would let everyone know the replay was inconclusive and the call will stand.

3. If call is not overturned because of inconclusive video evidence, the manager does not lose the right to make a second challenge later in the game. If a replay cannot prove that the umpire’s call was right, the manager should not be penalized for challenging the call.

4. There should be a three-minute time limit on reviews. If a decision to overturn or confirm can’t be reached in that time, then it’s inconclusive and they play stands.

5. There should be a three-person review panel, each watching the replays independently. Each then decides to vote to overturn or confirm. If two vote to overturn, it’s overturned. If two vote to confirm, it’s confirmed. However, if within the three-minute period, neither one of those things happen, it becomes inconclusive and play stands.

These suggestions might not solve all the issues with replays. But they would make the system better. And that’s what we need to get to … and we need to do it now.

Giants 5, Rockies 4 (10 inn.): Some fun facts about the game-winning Splash Hit by Brandon Crawford

San Francisco Giants' Brandon Crawford hits a walk-off home run to beat the Colorado Rockies during the 10th inning of a baseball game on Sunday, April 13, 2014, in San Francisco. San Francisco won 5-4. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

San Francisco Giants’ Brandon Crawford hits a walk-off home run to beat the Colorado Rockies during the 10th inning of a baseball game on Sunday, April 13, 2014, in San Francisco. San Francisco won 5-4. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

 

  • WP: Sergio Romo (1-0)
  • HR: Pablo Sandoval (2), Brandon Crawford (1)

BOX SCORE

Sunday was almost a GREAT day for Splash Hits.

Nah, come to think of it, it was a great day for Splash Hits.

Brandon Crawford led off the bottom of the 10th inning by hitting his first Splash Hit, shooting a pitch off Rex Brothers (a left-hander no less) into McCovey Cove right down the right-field line to lift the Giants over the Rockies 5-4.

It was the first Splash Hit since Pablo Sandoval put one in the water on May 12, 2013.

Sandoval almost made it two Splash Hits in the same game in the sixth inning.

Sandoval’s shot to over the No. 3 archway was well on its way to the Bay, but the ball actually hit one of the flag poles that rise high above the Willie Mays Wall in right and bounced back.

If Sandoval had reached the water, it would have been a first — it would have been the first time two different Giants hit Splash Hits in the same game.

Barry Bonds twice hit a pair of Splash Hits in the same game — on May 10, 2000 vs. the Cardinals (Nos. 2 and 3 Splash Hits overall); and May 18, 2002 vs. the Marlins (Nos. 19 and 20).

Crawford’s home run was the 64th Splash Hit at AT&T/SBC/Pacific Bell Park. He became the 17th different player to record at Splash Hit. (Remember: Splash Hits are home runs on the fly into the bay hit by Giants hitters).

It was also the second walk-off Splash Hit. Barry Bonds had the other on Aug. 19, 2003.

So Barry Bonds hit 35 career Splash Hits.

Barry Bonds spent time this spring working with Brandon Crawford.

Brandon Crawford hits his first Splash Hit.

Hmmmm. Coincidence?

Here’s the list of Splash Hitters

  1. Barry Bonds 35
  2. Pablo Sandoval 7
  3. Brandon Belt 3
  4. Felipe Crespo 2
  5. Ryan Klesko 2
  6. Michael Tucker 2
  7. Andres Torres 2
  8. Aubrey Huff 2
  9. JT Snow 1
  10. Jose Cruz Jr 1
  11. AJ Pierzynski 1
  12. Randy Winn 1
  13. Fred Lewis 1
  14. John Bowker 1
  15. Nate Schierholtz 1
  16. Carlos Beltran 1
  17. Brandon Crawford 1

NEXT UP

After an off day, Tim Lincecum faces Josh Beckett as the Giants and Dodgers open a three-game series at AT&T Park at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday.

Rockies 1, Giants 0: Giants’ weakest link not enough to support Matt Cain

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Matt Cain throws to the Colorado Rockies during the first inning of a baseball game on Saturday, April 12, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Matt Cain throws to the Colorado Rockies during the first inning of a baseball game on Saturday, April 12, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • LP: Matt Cain (0-2)

BOX SCORE

There is a saying: “You’re only as strong as your weakest link.”

Well, if that’s the case, the Giants’ hopes for a successful season is looking pretty flimsy right about now.

With Brandon Hicks getting the bulk of the starts at 2B, the Giants’ bench looks like this:

  • C Hector Sanchez
  • IF Joaquin Arias
  • IF Ehire Adrianza
  • OF Gregor Blanco
  • OF Juan Perez

People were talking about the struggles at the top of the order Saturday — Hunter Pence was in the No. 2 hole and batting .167, Pablo Sandoval in the No. 3 hole and batting .152 — but it’s really the struggles on the bench that are much worse.

Those five bench players listed above are hitting a combined 5 for 66 (.076).

By comparison, Giants pitchers this season are 4 for 20 (.200).

As manager Bruce Bochy is trying to find days off to rest his starters — Angel Pagan and Buster Posey got one on Friday; Brandon Belt got his first rest on Saturday — it means starting players who are recording outs at an alarming rate.

And the only way that Bochy knows to try to get these guys started is to give them at-bats.

He can’t send them down to Fresno to find their hitting stroke. Arias, Blanco and Adrianza are out of options, meaning they’d have to clear waivers before getting a demotion.

Sanchez could be sent down, but the call-up options are much better. Andrew Susac is hitting .370 in Fresno, which is great. But the Giants don’t want Susac to get called up and make one start a week. They want him to getting playing time and continue to progress. They have a veteran backup in Fresno in Guillermo Quiroz, but he’s hitting .154 … IN FRESNO. And everyone hits in Fresno.

The same thing is at play in the outfield. Yeah, they could demote Juan Perez, but who do you get to replace him?

Prospect Gary Brown is hitting .317. But, again, the Giants want Brown to get ABs, and that won’t happen with the Giants. The veteran OF option is Tyler Colvin, who is hitting .194 in Fresno.

CAIN LOOKED BETTER

The silver lining from Saturday’s game is Matt Cain looked the best he’s looked so far this season.

Cain gave up one run on four hits and three walks over seven innings in a 116-pitch outing. He struck out eight.

Despite the solid outing, Cain tried to take the blame for the loss, pointing to a double steal set up Troy Tulowitzki’s sacrifice fly that accounted for the game’s only run.

“You make a leadoff walk and I did a bad job of paying attention to him on second,” Cain said. “That’s what cost us.”

Nice try, Matt. But you can’t win a game if you don’t score a run.

It was the sixth time in Cain’s career that he was saddled with a loss despite only allowing one run, and the first time in four seasons.

SUNDAY

Tyler Chatwood is expected to be activated off the DL (hamstring) and make his first start of the season for the Rockies on Sunday. The Giants will counter with Tim Hudson. Chatwood gave up one earned run in 11.2 innings against the Giants last season. Sunday’s game start at 1:05 p.m.

Giants 6, Rockies 5: Madison Bumgarner makes history with grand slam

San Francisco Giants' Madison Bumgarner hits a grand slam off Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jorge De La Rosa during the fourth inning of a baseball game Friday, April 11, 2014, in San Francisco. At left is Colorado Rockies catcher Jordan Pacheco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

San Francisco Giants’ Madison Bumgarner hits a grand slam off Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jorge De La Rosa during the fourth inning of a baseball game Friday, April 11, 2014, in San Francisco. At left is Colorado Rockies catcher Jordan Pacheco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

 

  • WP: Madison Bumgarner (2-0)
  • HR: Madison Bumgarner (1)

BOX SCORE

Giants manager Bruce Bochy was looking for a good opportunity to give Buster Posey and Angel Pagan a rest.

With Madison Bumgarner on the mound, Bochy figured the Giants could still win without their two hottest hitters.

And that’s how it worked out, although not in the manner that Bochy was probably thinking.

Bumgarner drove in five runs, including four on a fourth-inning grand slam as the Giants beat the Rockies in the first Orange Friday of the season.

When Bumgarner took Jorge De La Rosa deep to right for his third career home run, Bumgarner became the second San Francisco Giants pitcher to hit a grand slam, joining Shawn Estes who did it May 24, 2000 against the Montreal Expos.

In winning, the Giants erased an early 3-0 deficit. The Rockies dinked and dunked Bumgarner, except for the rocket Carlos Gonzalez hit into the bay in the top of the third for a two-run home run.

Brandon Crawford opened the bottom of the third with a triple and scored when Bumgarner hit a sacrifice fly to deep left field.

In the bottom of the fourth, things got odd.

Pablo Sandoval opened the inning with a single, followed by a Michael Morse walk. Hector Sanchez flied out, and Brandon Belt struck out.

The Giants looked like they caught a bad break when Brandon Hicks was hit on the foot with a pitch that appeared destined to the backstop, which would have allowed Sandoval to score from third. Instead, the bases were loaded.

But the Giants got that run when Brandon Crawford walked.

Then came Bumgarner, who jumped on a De La Rosa fast ball and drove it deep into the left-field bleachers for a grand slam and a 6-3 lead.

The Giants wasted scoring chances later in the game, but Sergio Romo struck out the side in the ninth to seal the win.

WOEFUL BENCH

In addition to giving Pagan and Posey a rest, Bochy was also looking to get some of his bench players some at-bats to get them out of their early season funk.

Juan Perez started in center and went 0 for 4. Hector Sanchez started at catcher and went 0 for 3 and was hit by a pitch. Add in Ehire Adrianza’s out in a pinch-hit spot (oddly pinch-hitting for Bumgarner), and the Giants usual bench players of Perez, Sanchez, Adrianza, Gregor Blanco and Joaquin Arias are hitting a combined 5 for 59 (.085).

Perez did have a nice throw to double off Jordan Pacheco at first to end the eighth.

SANDOVAL TO BENCH LATE

As he did Thursday night, Pablo Sandoval threw the ball away on a play when he was better off to just hold the ball.

Nolan Arenado bunted to third with Sandoval playing back. Sandoval charged the ball, and did not have a chance to get Arenado. But he threw anyway, and the throw went into the stands.

That allowed Arenado to take second, which allowed him to score on Charlie Blackmon’s bloop single.

In the top of the ninth, Sandoval was sent to the bench in favor of Joaquin Arias.

That’s not supposed to happen for a player who wants a $90 million contract. Especially one hitting .143.

MORE TWO-OUT MAGIC

Five of the six runs the Giants scored on Friday came with two outs. That makes 41 of 61 runs this season coming with two outs.

SATURDAY

Matt Cain, who has enjoyed success against the Rockies, takes the mound against the former A’s pitcher Brett Anderson. Anderson is 0-2 this season, but he’s had two quality starts (both exactly 6 IP with 3 ERs for a 4.50 ERA). But that’s two more quality starts than what Cain has enjoyed this season. Game time is 1:05 p.m. and the game will be aired on MLB Network.

Diamondbacks 6, Giants 5 (10): Sandoval’s error costs Giants a victory

Arizona Diamondbacks' Gerardo Parra (8) is tagged out by San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval after a ground ball hit by Diamondbacks' Randall Delgado during the second inning of a baseball game on Thursday, April 10, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Arizona Diamondbacks’ Gerardo Parra (8) is tagged out by San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval after a ground ball hit by Diamondbacks’ Randall Delgado during the second inning of a baseball game on Thursday, April 10, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

 

  • LP: Yusmeiro Petit (0-1)
  • HR: None

BOX SCORE

It’s a little thing we like to call “situational baseball.”

Here’s the situation:

Runners at first and second, two outs, your team is up by a run.

A speedy left-handed hitter is at the plate. He hits a slow chopper to third.

Here are your options if you’re the third baseman:

  • A) Charge the ball, grab the ball and make a strong, accurate throw to first to make an amazing out at first.
  • B) Charge the ball, grab the ball, make a strong, accurate throw to first. But the runner beats it out. Bases loaded, two outs.
  • C) Charge the ball, grab the ball, make a strong, but inaccurate throw to first and allow the tying run to score.
  • D) Charge the ball, grab the ball, realize the odds of either B or C happening far, far, FAR outweigh the odds of A happening, so you eat the ball and go after the next hitter.

Which option do you think Pablo Sandoval took in the eighth inning on Thursday night?

If you said “C”, you made the right call.

And Sandoval made the wrong decision.

Sandoval’s error allowed Gerardo Parra score the tying run on a slow chopper hit by Tony Campana in the eighth.

The Giants failed to take the lead back in the bottom of the eighth when Brandon Belt flied to shallow left with the bases loaded and one out. Sandoval’s fly to deep right ended the inning.

Arizona took the lead in the 10th for the win.

ROMO IS OK

Sergio Romo gave up a hit in the ninth inning. But after finishing the scoreless inning, he left the field in clear discomfort.

Manager Bruce Bochy said Romo had stomach cramps, a by-product of Romo battling the flu.

VOGELSONG ALSO ‘OK’

Ryan Vogelsong left after one batter in the sixth with a 5-4 lead.

He gave up four runs on seven hits and one walk to five-plus innings. He gave up two runs in the second and third innings, creating  a situation in which he had given up two runs in four of his previous five innings extending back to his outing Friday in Los Angeles.

But he rebounded with scoreless fourth and fifth innings. So the night was OK for Vogelsong. Not great, but OK.

Vogelsong has sort of become this year’s version of Barry Zito. If he’s still pitching in the sixth inning, it’s a good outing.

SOLID STARTERS, THIN BENCH

The Giants offense has gotten off to a solid start. With the exception of Sandoval (.132) and Hunter Pence (.146), the other six Giants starters on Thursday are hitting well: Angel Pagan (.442), Brandon Belt (.295), Buster Posey (.351), Michael Morse (.400), Brandon Crawford (.300) and Brandon Hicks (.333).

That’s the good news. The bad news is the bench is NOT off to a good start.

  • Hector Sanchez is 2 for 8
  • Joaquin Arias is 2 for 14
  • Ehire Adrianza is 1 for 15
  • Gregor Blanco is 0 for 10
  • Juan Perez is 0 for 4

Put it all together and you get 5 for 51. That’s an .098 average to you and me.

But don’t worry. The Giants’ bench batting average will take a huge jump Saturday when Buster sits for his day of rest.

FRIDAY

Friday is win day for the Giants. Madison Bumgarner (1-0, 1.74 ERA) takes the mound, coming off his solid outing against the Dodgers. He’ll face Jorge De La Rosa (0-1, 8.31 ERA) as the Giants open a three-game series against the Rockies at 7:15 p.m.

Diamondbacks 7, Giants 3: Tim Lincecum gets snakebit again by Paul Goldschmidt

San Francisco Giants' Tim Lincecum works against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, April 9, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

San Francisco Giants’ Tim Lincecum works against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, April 9, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

  • LP: Tim Lincecum (0-1)
  • HR: Michael Morse (2), Buster Posey (3)

BOX SCORE

Here’s the good news for Tim Lincecum:

He won’t have to face Paul Goldschmidt and the Arizona Diamondbacks until late June, at the earliest.

The Giants face Arizona in a three-game set June 20-22. And with two off days in the preceding four of that series, Giants manager Bruce Bochy should get creative with his rotation to avoid Lincecum pitching against the Snakes.

Heading into Wednesday’s game, Goldschmidt was 12 for 23 (.522) with six home runs in 26 plate appearances against Lincecum. Lincecum has only walked him twice.

In the words of Giants color man Mike Krukow, that’s ownage.

And it continued Wednesday when Goldschmidt hit his seventh home run off Lincecum in the first inning. And to make matters worse, if that’s even possible, Goldschmidt took Lincecum out to right field.

After giving up a two-run home run to Goldschmidt last week in Arizona, Lincecum was looking for advice on how to get out the Diamondbacks first baseman.

We’ll assume he didn’t find it.

Actually, Lincecum did get Goldschmidt out in his second plate appearance on Wednesday, getting him to fly out to right. But that was a sacrifice fly.

Lincecum has given up 11 runs in 10 innings of work this season. Six of those runs were driven in by Goldschmidt.

So take Goldschmidt out of the equation, and Lincecum’s ERA might … MIGHT … be 4.50. That’s still not great.

Lincecum got himself in trouble by failing to get the batters out ahead of Goldschmidt.

He started the game by giving up a triple to Gerardo Parra, then walking Martin Prado — his only walk Wednesday.

After regrouping to set down six in a row after Goldschmidt’s home run, Lincecum gave up back-to-back singles to Parra and Prado ahead of Goldschmidt’s sac fly scored Arizona’s fourth run. An Eric Chavez triple made gave Arizona its fifth run.

In the fourth, after giving up a single to pitcher Bronson Arroyo, Lincecum gave up a two-run home run to Parra.

When Lincecum reported to camp this spring, he talked about taking a fresh approach to pitching. He said he wanted to pitch for “crappy contact.” In other words, we’d see a different Lincecum, one who would strike out fewer strikeouts, and also walk fewer, while getting hitters out with weak contact.

But through two games, Lincecum has struck out 12 batters in 10 innings, while giving up 15 hits that include three two-run homers, a three-run homer, a double and two triples.

That’s a lot of uncrappy contact.

The end result is Lincecum’s second-worst start to the season after two starts. His current 9.90 ERA is only surpassed by the 12.91 ERA he had after two starts in his very ugly 2012 season.

Next up for Lincecum is a start next Tuesday at home against the Dodgers, then Easter Sunday at San Diego.

And if he doesn’t get this “new-and-improved” Timmy figured out soon, Giants fans won’t be talking about “crappy contact.”

They’ll be talking about “crappy contract” — as in two years for $35 million.

THURSDAY

The Giants send Ryan Vogelsong, who has been working on correcting a flaw in his mechanics, against Randall Delgado in the series finale at 7:15 p.m. Neither pitcher was able to get through five innings of work in their first start of the season.

Giants 7, Diamondbacks 3: Brandon Belt’s hot start could be harbinger of things to come

San Francisco Giants' Brandon Belt, left, is congratulated by Angel Pagan after hitting a two-run home run off of Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Trevor Cahill that scored Pagan during the first inning of an opening day baseball game in San Francisco, Tuesday, April 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

San Francisco Giants’ Brandon Belt, left, is congratulated by Angel Pagan after hitting a two-run home run off of Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Trevor Cahill that scored Pagan during the first inning of an opening day baseball game in San Francisco, Tuesday, April 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

  • WP: Tim Hudson (2-0)
  • HR: Brandon Belt (5)

BOX SCORE

Brandon Belt is off to a hot start, and that’s a good thing on many levels.

For one, it’s showing that the adjustments he made last season, when he finished the season with eight home runs, 28 RBI and hitting .346 in the final two months of the season, are still producing results.

And it’s gotten Belt, who has been plagued by poor Aprils in his young Giants career, off to a good start to the season.

In his first three big league seasons, Belt has hit .214 with three home runs and 20 RBI in the month of April (and March, too).

This season, through eight games, he has five home runs, nine RBI and is hitting .343.

Belt smacked his fifth home run of the season in the first inning Tuesday as the Giants beat the Diamondbacks in their home opener.

In doing so, Belt became the sixth San Francisco Giant to hit five or more home runs in the first eight games of the season, joining some nice company.

  • Willie Mays in 1964 (6)
  • Orlando Cepeda in 1959 (5)
  • Kevin Mitchell in 1989 (5)
  • Barry Bonds in 2002 (5)
  • Jose Cruz Jr. in 2003 (5)

That’s two Hall of Famers (and a third who should be) and two players who would go on to win the NL MVP award.

In four of the five previous seasons in which a Giant hit five homers in the first eight games, the Giants would win 90 or more games.

In the last three seasons a Giant accomplished the feat, the Giants would go on to advance to the World Series.

Mays, Mitchell and Bonds would go on to hit 46 or more home runs for the season.

All good signs for Belt.

HOME SWEET HOME OPENERS

Tuesday’s win was the Giants sixth consecutive win in their home opener.

FINE IN SUNSHINE

The Giants improved to 4-0 this season when playing in the daylight. The Giants are averaging 7.5 runs in those four day games.

WEDNESDAY

The Giants will send Tim Lincecum to the mound against the Diamondbacks and Bronson Arroyo at 7:15 p.m. in a pitching rematch of last Thursday’s game that the Giants won 8-5.

Dodgers 6, Giants 2: Uh oh … here we go again with Matt Cain and home runs?

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Matt Cain throws against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first inning of a baseball game Sunday, April 6, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Matt Cain throws against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first inning of a baseball game Sunday, April 6, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

 

  • LP: Matt Cain (0-1)
  • HR: Brandon Belt (4), Hunter Pence (1)

BOX SCORE

Sunday’s series final in Los Angeles gave Giants fans a severe case of deja vu.

Has Matt Cain come down with another case of dingeritis?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Cain gave up three home runs in six innings, giving up long balls to Matt Kemp twice and Hanley Ramirez once, in a 6-2 loss to the Dodgers.

Home runs have always been a part of Cain’s game.

Yes, Cain gave up a career-high 23 home runs last year. But Cain gave up 21 home runs in 2012 and 22 home runs in both 2009 and 2010.

Cain went 16-5 with a career-best 2.79 ERA in 2012 despite giving up 21 home runs.

So when Cain is going good, he’s giving up home runs. And when he’s going not so good, he’s giving up home runs.

That was the case in 2013 when he went 8-10 with 4.00 ERA.

And really, Cain’s problems with the long ball really stung him during on stretch of seven starts from April 12 to May 16.

In that stretch he gave up 13 home runs, accounting for 22 of the 25 earned runs Cain allowed over that stetch.

Sunday night’s game with the ninth time in Cain’s career that he’s allowed three or more home runs in a game.

He had five from 2006-2012, and never more than one in any season.

But last year, he had three games with 3+ home runs allowed. All three occurred in that seven start stretch.

Cain didn’t allow any home runs in his first start in Arizona. So it’s difficult to say if Sunday’s outing was a harbinger of things to come with Cain or not.

Let’s hope not.

HOME RUNS BY GIANTS

The Giants hit two home runs themselves. Both came in the sixth inning, one by Brandon Belt and one by Hunter Pence.

Belt’s home run was his fourth of the season.

Belt joked that he planned to hit 74 home runs this season.

Well, he’s on pace to hit 93 right now.

When Barry Bonds hit 73 home runs in 2001, he didn’t hit his fourth of the season until his 10th game.

So………

A GOOD START

All things consider, that was a pretty good opening road trip.

  • The Giants took 2 of 3 from the Dodgers. We’ll take that.
  • They went 5-2 on the opening road trip, all against division foes. We’ll take that.
  • The Giants lead the National League in home runs. You know we’ll take that.

NEXT UP

Monday is an off day before the Giants play their home opener at 1:35 p.m. Tuesday against the Diamondbacks. Tim Hudson, coming off his stellar Giants debut against Arizona last week, will take the hill for the Giants against Trevor Cahill. It’s the same pitching matchup when the Giants beat the Diamondbacks 2-0 last Wednesday.

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