May 4, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants center fielder Angel Pagan (left) and left fielder Melky Cabrera (right) exit the dugout before the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at AT

Lincecum's Early Struggles And Bullpen Blunders Can't Stop Giants' Downward Slide

When it rains, it pours. And when Tim Lincecum struggles, boy, does he ever struggle. Two walks, a hit batter, a wild pitch and a two-run single took place in the top half of the first, making an already offensively challenged Giants team push their backs against the wall. Hoping to change their fate after becoming victims of a three game sweep at the hands of the Miami Marlins, the 3-0 first inning deficit wasn’t what the doctor ordered. The Giants did manage to fight their way back in it though, eventually squaring it all up at 4-4 before the Giants’ bullpen cracked, giving up the would be game winning runs in the top half of the 7th as the Giants found themselves on the losing end again, this time 4-6.

Lincecum’s Early Struggles: What a top half of the first for Lincecum who threw 25 pitches and only received one called strike in the process, eleven strikes total – a handful of them swings and misses at pitches outside the zone. To say he struggled with his command would be a compliment. The second inning was no better as the Freak once again loaded the bases thanks to his insanely wild control, but a sinking liner to right was his saving grace as the wheels of Gregor Blanco saved a few more runs from scoring. After the second though, Lincecum turned the corner, dropping a few consecutive 1-2-3 innings (retired 10 straight) en route to his night and day outing.

Belt Continues To Streak: Who’d have thunk it – get Brandon Belt some significant playing time and he produces. Glad nobody ever thought of that idea. The baby giraffe has been smoking as of late, reaching base 12 times in his last 25 at-bat’s. The young first-baseman has found some consistent field time with Aubrey Huff on the disabled list, but Bochy’s loveable veteran returns on Monday, so we’ll see what becomes of Bochy’s pawn. It’s been reported that the Giants have gained some confidence and comfort-ability with Belt at first, so the plan is to get Huff time in the outfield more than on the infield, but is Boch going to sit speedster Gregor Blanco for Huff over Belt? Be interesting (or sad) to see what Bork decides upon.

Umpires Need Some Help: Although it’s early in the year, it’s been a rough few weeks for major league umpires – tonight no different. The home plate zone was wildly inconsistent, made worse by Lincecum’s early struggles. Both Lincecum and Brewers started Zack Grienke appeared to be confused by the zone, one moment getting a strike, the next pitch in the exact same spot ruled a ball. Lincecum’s early wildness also apparently didn’t sit well with home plate umpire Ed Hickox who seemingly refused to calls strikes for Lincecum that he called for Grienke early, although the calls appeared to even out within a few innings. Behind the dish wasn’t the only place of controversy though as first base umpire Ed Rapuano made a incredibly poor (and extremely obvious) call on the Giants’ Angel Pagan who clearly beat out a throw. Pagan immediately got into Rapuano’s face, quickly followed by Bruce Bochy, yet neither was thrown out (Bochy tried to get tossed, Pagan’s reaction should’ve got himself tossed) – a clear indication that Rapuano knew he blew the call. Moments later, fully aware of his blunder, Rapuano called Emmanuel Burriss safe on a much closer, though obvious out play which brought Milwuakee’s Ron Roenicke storming out of the dugout.

Notes: Former Giant Travis Ishikawa made his return to AT&T Park tonight, this time as a member of the Brewers. It was noted prior to the game by Hank Schulman (and others) that the Giants had extended Ish a minor league contract offer to return to the black and orange, but he opted to go with the Brew-crew because of the better opportunity (No Huff blocking, har, har). This was only the second time in seven games that the Giants managed to score 4 or more runs.

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Tags: Brandon Belt Game Recap Gregor Blanco Milwaukee Brewers Recap San Francisco Giants Tim Lincecum Travis Ishikawa

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