Baggs' Instant Replay: Nationals 6, Giants 4

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Baggs' Instant Replay: Nationals 6, Giants 4

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SAN FRANCISCO While the Giants tried to digest the sudden gut-bomb of Melky Cabreras 50-game suspension, Tim Lincecum added to their acute indigestion.
Lincecum took a step back from what had been a much-improved second half. He labored through a marathon first inning, surrendered a two-run home run to Danny Espinosa in the third and was gone after throwing a whopping 96 pitches in just four innings.The Washington Nationals have owned the Giants all season, and they did not hesitate to kick them while they were down while handing them a 6-4 defeat Wednesday afternoon at AT&T Park.Stephen Strasburg pitched six strong innings, managing to step around an erratic patch in the second that included two walks and a two-run single by Brandon Crawford. The Nationals, who have the best record in the N.L., took two of three and held off a late charge to beat the Giants five times out of six in the season series.The Giants finished 3-3 on their homestand and are left to forge ahead without Cabrera, the major league leader in hits and runs scored, who will serve a 50-game suspension after Major League Baseball announced that he tested positive for testosterone.NEWS: Cabrera suspended 50 games
Cabrera was listed in Wednesdays lineup before his suspension was announced barely an hour before the first pitch.Cabrera leads the major leagues in hits and walks, so theres no understating the impact his suspension will have on the Giants chances to win the N.L. West. But this remains a pitching team, so a wobbly Lincecum is a damning omen in its own right.Starting pitching reportLincecum entered 3-2 with a 2.72 ERA and had thrown quality starts in five of six outings since the break. But a 38-pitch first inning served to deep-six him against one of the leagues most talented lineups.Lincecum (6-13) simply couldnt get his teammates in the dugout after retiring two of the first three hitters. Adam LaRoche reached on an infield single, Michael Morse walked to load the bases and Jayson Werth followed with a two-out hit. Lincecum hit Espinosa with a pitch before finally escaping by striking out Kurt Suzuki.The big difference with Lincecum this season: He cant maintain his stuff after being taxed early. That proved to be the case again, as the Nationals collected eight hits against him in all. Not all were seeing-eye singles, either. LaRoche doubled and Espinosa rocked Lincecum for a two-run home run in the third.Washington leadoff man Steve Lombardozzi, who led off the game with a single, proved pesky again to start the fourth inning. Lombardozzi stole second base and moved up on a wild pitch before Lincecum stranded him.But with the Giants trailing 4-2 and Lincecums pitch count soaring to 96, Giants manager Bruce Bochy lifted the two-time Cy Young Award winner for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the fourth.It was the sixth time Lincecum failed to complete five innings. He has thrown quality starts in just nine of 25 outings this season. And the Giants are now 8-17 in his starts.Lincecum would match his career high with his next loss.Bullpen reportGeorge Kontos and Santiago Casilla each gave up a run; Werth hit an RBI single in the fifth, then walked and scored on a sacrifice fly in the seventh.At the plateCabreras last-minute replacement, Gregor Blanco, entered with an 0-for-19 streak and was batting just .079 (3 for 38) over his last 20 games.The club moved Pablo Sandoval from fifth to third and inserted Blanco in the No. 7 spot in the lineup.Blanco snapped his streak at 21 hitless at-bats, but Strasburg only gave up three other hits in his six innings. The two Brandons, Belt and Crawford, collected two of them in the second after Hunter Pence and Buster Posey drew walks to start the inning. But after Lincecum sacrificed runners to second and third, Angel Pagan flied out to left field.The Giants managed exactly one baserunner (and no more runs) in each of Strasburgs next four innings. He improved to 14-5 with a 2.91 ERA. The innings count now stands at 139.1, and yes, the Nationals still plan to shut him down in the 160-170 inning range.Blancos infield hit scored a run off Sean Burnett in the eighth, but Crawford received a heaping supply of offspeed pitches while striking out to strand runners at the corners.The Giants scored again in the ninth with a gift from the gods. Sandoval popped up and tossed his bat, assuming hed made the final out. But first baseman Adam LaRoche appeared to lose the ball in the sun, and Sandoval took second base. Posey stepped to the plate representing the tying run, and he took two huge rips after Tyler Clippard fell behind 2-1. But both baseballs ended up in catcher Kurt Suzukis glove.In fieldThe Giants might need foot massages, for all the standing around they had to do during Lincecums innings.AttendanceThe Giants announced 42,133 paid including Barry Bonds, in a case of wondrous timing. As for the Melkmen maybe they can reinvent themselves as the Pence-il Pushers.Up nextThe Giants have a travel day to take stock of themselves before beginning their road trip to San Diego and Los Angeles with a Friday night game at Petco Park. Matt Cain (11-5, 2.99) opposes right-hander Ross Ohlendorf (4-3. 6.41). Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong are scheduled to pitch the remainder of the weekend against Padres left-handers Eric Stults and Clayton Richard.

Giants spring training Day 39: Nuñez receives pair of cortisone shots

Giants spring training Day 39: Nuñez receives pair of cortisone shots

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford will return to camp Thursday, show off their WBC championship medals, and then head to nearby Salt River Fields to take on the Colorado Rockies. It'll be a few more days, however, before the Giants have their full infield on the field. 

Eduardo Nuñez said he actually got two cortisone shots in his right shoulder, since an MRI this week showed “something” in two separate spots. Nuñez asked for the MRI because, while he was able to play and make strong throws, he felt pain on a daily basis. He might DH this weekend, but it'll be a few more days before he's cleared to begin throwing. 

The Giants are hopeful that the shots calm all this down, and Nuñez anticipated being ready for Opening Day. Still, it certainly sounds like this will be a close call. Conor Gillaspie, who is having a huge spring, could get plenty of early time at third. Manager Bruce Bochy doesn't anticipate Nuñez missing Opening Day.

"He should be ready," Bochy said. 

The Giants need all the good injury news they can get. It is expected that Will Smith will announce Friday that he's having Tommy John surgery. 

ICYMI: From this morning, a feature on George Kontos and his rise over the last few years. 

Also, one of the bench candidates, Gordon Beckham, asked for his release. The Giants will soon have to make decisions on Hill and David Hernandez, who have similar retention bonuses due March 28.

GAME RECAP: The Giants played one of their uglier games of the spring, losing 9-2 to King Felix and the Mariners … Matt Moore lasted just 1 2/3 innings, giving up four runs on four hits, two walks, a balk and a wild pitch. It was the same old thing: Moore just all of a sudden lost his command, and because he got up past the 30-pitch mark in the second inning alone, the Giants cut it off. Moore went down to the bullpen and got up to around 80 pitches. He'll make one more start down here, Tuesday against the Cubs ... Joe Panik had a hard double, one of just four hits for the Giants … Chris Marrero hasn’t played a whole lot of left field this spring, and he didn’t show much to the coaches on a couple of opportunities to throw home. The left field situation remains a mystery. 

POSITION BATTLES: Kelby Tomlinson played six innings of left field in a minor league game, and he had to wait until the sixth to get his first and only fly ball. There seemed to be a lot of interest from decision-makers about how Tomlinson fared, and his action today opens up an intriguing possibility. There’s a roster permutation that has the Giants keeping just one reserve outfielder (Gorkys Hernandez) and three backup infielders: Conor Gillaspie, Aaron Hill and Kelby Tomlinson, with the latter two being options in left field. 

FAMILIAR FACE: Angel Pagan made it through the WBC healthy, and he apparently is drawing interest from the Phillies and Blue Jays. Giants people are confident Pagan will get a big league job somewhere over the coming week. 

Giants reliever Will Smith leaning toward season-ending Tommy John surgery

Giants reliever Will Smith leaning toward season-ending Tommy John surgery

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Left-hander Will Smith, a key piece of a revamped bullpen, is leaning toward having Tommy John surgery, manager Bruce Bochy said Thursday night. 

Bochy said surgery was the recommendation of both doctors who examined Smith's elbow this week. Smith will talk to his agent before coming to a final decision on Friday. The procedure would keep Smith out the entire 2017 season and likely would cause him to miss the start of the 2018 season.

Smith, 27, missed the first month of camp because of pain in his throwing elbow. He returned March 17, but during a March 20 outing he again felt pain and called for a trainer. A second round of diagnostics revealed a strain and a sprain in the elbow. Smith saw team orthopedist Dr. Ken Akizuki in San Francisco and flew to Los Angeles this week to get a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache of the Kerlen-Jobe Clinic. 

"They had the same opinion," Bochy said. "There is a tear there. You can try to rehab it and if that doesn't work you're behind a couple of months ... It's not a definite he's going to have it done, but two doctors are in agreement on what this is."

Smith was expected to serve as the late lefty for the Giants, getting setup work in the seventh and eighth innings. With Smith out, the Giants will lean on young lefties Steven Okert, Josh Osich and Ty Blach. 

"We're going to have to have someone step up and help us in the seventh and eighth," Bochy said. "That was going to be will's role. He's a guy we were leaning on."

Smith was acquired from the Brewers at the deadline last season in exchange for right-hander Phil Bickford (who is currently serving a 50-game suspension) and catcher Andrew Susac (who is currently injured). After a shaky start, he finished the regular season with 18 consecutive scoreless appearances. 

The Giants have for the most part avoided Tommy John for 40-man roster pitchers. Hunter Strickland, Derek Law and Josh Osich have all had it during their time in the organization, along with outfielder Mac Williamson. Prospect Ian Gardeck is currently recovering from Tommy John. The last Giants pitcher who was likely headed for the roster before having Tommy John was left-hander Eric Surkamp. He had surgery in 2012.

The timetable is different for every pitcher, but the general consensus is that the procedure sidelines a pitcher for at least a year, and usually closer to 16 months. Matt Moore, Thursday night’s starter, had Tommy John on April 23, 2014. He did not return to a big league mound until July 2, 2015, and even then, he was under restrictions. 

Smith is under team control for two more seasons after this one.