San Francisco Giants see solid start from Tim Lincecum vs Angels


The San Francisco Giants lost a 3-2 decision in the ninth inning, Saturday afternoon at Tempe Diablo Stadium, as Tim Lincecum pitched four strong innings, giving up only one run on a sacrifice fly in the first inning. Taking another stride forward in terms of preparation for the upcoming season, if not in the win/loss column, the Giants continue to see good efforts from the projected rotation.

For the second consecutive game, though, the Orange and Black saw an opponent prevail in the last inning, as Kyle Kubitza singled in D’arby Myers with the winning run and the Angels walked off, in a game signaling that both teams are getting closer to the starting point of the season.

Jered Weaver worked five-and-a-third scoreless innings, giving up four hits and a walk, while striking out six. A cadre of five Angels pitchers worked to get the final eleven outs needed for the win, allowing two runs on three hits in the process.

Lincecum, continuing to show the results of his off-season workout regimen with his dad, surrendered two hits and a walk, while lowering his spring ERA to 7.88. He has given up eight hits and seven earned runs in eight innings, with a home run and three walks.

Timmy is obviously implementing the newly refurbished “Freak” back into his game, as he is staying ahead in the count, and getting more out of his fastball than speed. It’s never about velocity, so much as movement. Additionally, his early ability to get ahead in the count is allowing him to regain the confidence to put balls in the dirt as batters flail away. He’s also working on his sneer.

Ultimately, Saturday’s was put into the hands of a non-roster invitee, Curtis Partch, battling for the sole pitching opening on the Giants’ 25-man roster. Partch is a hard-throwing, former Cincinnati Red, who inherited runners on first and second, both on board courtesy of singles off of Javier Lopez.

Javier Lopez gave up two singles sandwiched around a strikeout. Photo by Denise Walos

Partch got a pop flair to left field from Drew Butera, the first batter he faced, that Juan Perez charged but couldn’t snag. Perez’ hustle forced Myers to hold up long enough at second that he couldn’t score, so he ended up at third, and the job was left up to Kubitza who got ‘er done.

Yusmeiro Petit (2 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 1 BB, 2 K, 5.19 ERA), Jean Machi (1 IP, 1 H, 4.00 ERA), and Santiago Casilla (1 IP, 1 H, 1 K, 9.00 ERA) pitched the fifth through eighth innings, before Lopez came on in the ninth and the game unraveled.

Earlier, with the Angels ahead 1-0 and one out in the sixth, Greg Mahle replaced Weaver and promptly walked Travis Ishikawa. He then gave up a single to Justin Maxwell to center field, while Ishikawa advanced to third base. Frank Hermann came in for Mahle and got Juan Perez to chase strike three, but catcher Drew Butera let the ball get past him and Ishikawa took advantage of the passed ball to score the Giants’ first run.

Hector Sanchez, looking more and more like he is ready to resume his backup position behind the dish, then hit a blooper which dropped into center field, scoring Maxwell with the tying run. Unfortunately, that was it for San Francisco, as they managed only one base runner in the last three innings of the game.

A guy looking to establish himself as a player is Ishikawa, who has the opportunity to play a more prominent role in the early going, due to Hunter Pence’s broken forearm. He is an intriguing player to me because of what he accomplished with his epic home run to win the National League Pennant last October.

Where would you have put Ishi’s name, on a list of Giants players most likely to have been the one to have hit that shot? It’s a rhetorical question but the net ramifications have yet to be seen. His confidence must be at an understandably career-high level, and he knows that Bruce Bochy likes to play the hot hand.

Oct 26, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants outfielder Travis Ishikawa hits a single against the Kansas City Royals in the fourth inning during game five of the 2014 World Series at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

For Ishikawa to be able to expand his role, both at the plate and in terms of versatility, simply gives Bochy one more tool. The Giants manager mentioned that Brandon Belt is one option to play the outfield, so having Ishikawa step up at first base would be appropriate, and not at all far-fetched of a scenario.

Travis ishikawa propelled the Giants to the World Series last October. What’s in store for tomorrow?

The Giants have a recent history of players performing key roles in unexpected circumstances, with remarkable results.

Though the Giants have now dropped two straight close games, Bruce Bochy has to be feeling better about the level of play. Tim Hudson’s start on Friday was solid as he went three-and-two-thirds innings, giving up only a first-inning blast to Joey Votto, while walking one and striking out four. His spring ERA soared to 1.50 with the solo shot by Votto.

In Friday night’s affair, it was not until things got messy in the ninth off of Hunter Strickland (.1 IP, 2 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 K), that the game got off the tracks. Strickland has had a rough spring (8.59 ERA) but the upside is that he will take back with him to the minor leagues, some specific areas to work on, and that’s what the process is all about. He has options left that others do not have.

Hudson’s start followed a grand effort by Ryan Vogelsong on Thursday, who went four-and-two-thirds scoreless innings, giving up two hits and two walks to the Brewers, in a 3-2 victory. In that game Joe PaniK (2) and Brandon Belt (3) each homered.

Though the Giants have not finished a spring training schedule below .500 since 2008, this current team need not have the same sense of urgency that another team might feel, with a sub-.500 win/loss record.

No other team has three World Series rings in five years, either.