Baggs' Instant Replay: Nationals 9, Giants 3

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Baggs' Instant Replay: Nationals 9, Giants 3

BOX SCORE
WASHINGTON It started well enough. Tim Lincecums scoreless innings streak reached 13 when he impressively carved through three dangerous hitters from the stretch Tuesday night.But there was no luck for Lincecum after that. Just plenty of mistakes, a career-worst eight runs allowed and enough explosive meetings of bat and ball in the nations capital to make you believe Independence Day arrived 24 hours ahead of time.The Giants and Nationals entered Tuesday night tied for the most victories in the National League. The Nats made easy work of Lincecum to take charge of the Senior Circuit in a rain-delayed, 9-3 victory at Nationals Park.Was it the mid-90s heat and humidity? Thats been the old standby for Lincecum in the past. But the longer his struggles go this season, the more it seems the familiar explanations just dont go deep enough.Lincecum gave up two runs in the second inning, got pounded in the third and retired just one batter in the fourth. He left them loaded for George Kontos, and after all were redeemed at the bettors window, Lincecum ended up matching his career worst with seven earned runs and establishing a new one with eight allowed in all.Lincecum watched the rest of the fourth inning, a forlorn figure leaning against the dugout rail. He was coming off seven scoreless innings against the Dodgers, which snapped his winless streak at 10 starts. Now he is bereft of momentum again, and hes got one more start before the All-Star break the first-half finale Sunday at Pittsburgh to figure out how to reinvent himself in the second half.Starting pitching reportLincecum (3-9) had made 171 starts in his major league career. He had never given up eight runs in a start. Heck, he probably didnt have one of those at the University of Washington, either.It all started with such promise. After Steve Lombardozzis leadoff single put Lincecum in the stretch, where he has struggled to make pitches, he executed very good sequences to get ahead of wunderkind Bryce Harper in a confrontation that ended with a fly out. After pitching backwards to Harper with early-count offspeed stuff, Lincecum ran his fastball in and out to strike out Ryan Zimmerman. Then he threw a changeup to strike out Michael Morse.But he began to show loose threads in the second inning, and the Nationals tugged at them. Danny Espinosa rocked Lincecum for an RBI double that hit near the top of the wall in dead center. Lincecum and catcher Hector Sanchez might have gotten too tricksy-cutesy with a first-pitch curveball to Jordan Zimmermann, a hanging blob that the opposing pitcher shot into right field for a double that scored Espinosa.Meanwhile, with the Giants making quick outs, Lincecum had little rest between innings. That might have contributed to a series of location mistakes in the third, although one small decision by the Nationals made a very big difference.Lincecum induced what would have been a double-play grounder from Morse, but Zimmerman was running with the 2-2 pitch. Shortstop Brandon Crawford had no choice but to throw to first base.That third out proved elusive, as Adam LaRoche doubled over center fielder Angel Pagans head on a high and outside fastball. Lincecum followed with a hanging, 0-1 curve that Ian Desmond attacked and sent into the left field seats for a two-run home run.Just like that, Lincecum and the Giants trailed 5-0.Perhaps Giants manager Bruce Bochy wanted Lincecum to get one more inning to save the bullpen, given the 11:05 a.m. game that awaits both teams on Wednesday. Or perhaps Bochy wanted to give Lincecum a chance to work on his delivery.Either way, the decision to send a stringy-haired, sweaty Lincecum out for the fourth inning turned out to be very bad, indeed. After retiring Zimmermann, Lincecum wrapped two walks around Harpers double and Bochy came to collect the ball with the bases loaded.Lincecum ended the day with a 6.08 ERA. He ranks 89th out of 90 major league pitchers that have made at least 15 starts. If not for Atlantas Mike Minor, Lincecum would rank as the worst pitcher in the major leagues by the stat that is most often used to define their performance.Bullpen reportKontos did Lincecum no favors. Neither did Gregor Blanco, who went to center field on the double-switch with Pagan getting an early exit.Kontos threw a fat 0-2 pitch while allowing a two-run single to Morse and Blanco made a terrible throw to the plate, allow Zimmerman to take third base. LaRoche followed with a sacrifice fly to give the Nats an 8-0 lead.At least Kontos struck out Ian Desmond, ensuring that Lincecums final run would be unearned. A small consolation.Clay Hensley, Brad Penny and others pitched and played baseball and such after that. Their deeds will not be chronicled here, but check the box score if you must.At the plateThe Giants will miss both of Washingtons All-Star starting pitchers in Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez, but Zimmermann (5-6) reminded why he has a lower ERA than either of them.He gave up hits to the leadoff batter in three of his first four innings, including doubles to Pablo Sandoval and Melky Cabrera. But he did what Lincecum could not, executing pitches to keep the Giants off the board.A yippy throw from third baseman Ryan Zimmerman opened the door for a two-run rally in the fifth inning. After Hector Sanchez reached on the error, the Giants received consecutive singles from Crawford and Nate Schierholtz (who entered with Kontos on a double switch). Blanco followed with a broken-bat hit that scored a pair.With no outs, the Giants had thoughts of a comeback. But Ryan Theriot, Melky Cabrera and Buster Posey went down in order.Give Crawford his due, though. He turned in his second three-hit game in a span of six starts.In fieldLets focus on off-the-field stuff. Such as how Giants manager Bruce Bochy pulled most of his starters off the field.Hey, at least the Giants will be a tad better rested for Wednesdays 11:05 a.m. first pitch, which is more appropriate for a college football game. Pablo Sandoval and Cabrera were gone in the fifth inning. Posey, the first baseman, was out in the sixth.By the end, the Giants 3-4-5 hitters were Justin Christian, Joaquin Arias and Emmanuel Burriss.Poor Hector Sanchez had to catch the whole way.AttendanceThe Nationals announced 36,985 paid. For once, the actual attendance seemed even larger. Theyre getting behind this team of theirs here. The lower sections remained well populated even after an 85-minute rain delay in the seventh inning. (The sweet, sulfurous lure of postgame fireworks might have had something to do with that.)Up nextThe Giants will be quaffing many caffeinated beverages as they continue their series in the District with an 11:05 a.m. first pitch on Wednesday. (Thats 8:05 a.m. back in the Bay Area.) Left-hander Madison Bumgarner (10-4, 2.85) gets the Independence Day start against right-hander Edwin Jackson (4-4. 3.57).

After another loss, Bochy challenges staff to 'tighten it up here'

After another loss, Bochy challenges staff to 'tighten it up here'

DENVER — For the second straight start, Matt Moore watched an outfielder chase down a rocket, slam into the wall, and immediately leave the game with a hurt shoulder. 

“You’ve got to feel a little responsible,” he said Saturday night, shaking his head. 

That’s not entirely fair. The Jarrett Parker and Denard Span injuries have been flukes, but there is a different kind of responsibility for the starting staff. Bobby Evans built this team on the starting five, and through three weeks, the group has been a letdown. 

Madison Bumgarner was hurt during an off-field incident. Johnny Cueto has an uncharacteristic 5.25 ERA and 1.38 WHIP through four starts. Moore gave up six runs in four innings Saturday, raising his own ERA to 5.87. On the other side, a rookie — Antonio Senzatela — held the Giants to four hits, leading the Rockies to a 12-3 win.

“He just made mistakes. You saw them,” manager Bruce Bochy said of Moore. “They caught too much of the plate and they were up and they took advantage of them. This can be a tough park but they pitched well tonight with a young kid. You’ve got to make your pitches. Keep concentrating and don’t give in. That’s the way it works and we’re not doing a very good job of that.

“Obviously our staff, we’re a much better staff than what’s happened. We’ve got to tighten it up here and wake up. We’re not a team that goes out and pounds it with you. We’ve got to pitch.”

The starting staff, even without Bumgarner, is more important than it first seemed. That's because the rest of the Giants are dropping, too. Span went out in the third when he slammed into the wall while making a catch, and while the initial read is positive, he was going for X-rays Saturday night. At the very least, a right shoulder sprain will keep him out a couple of days. 

That means Bochy, 18 games in, is dealing with one of his Bomb Squad situations. Buster Posey will play first on Sunday after a couple of long days in the squat, and it’s possible Brandon Belt will get a day in left. Gorkys Hernandez, hitting just .088, is the man in center while Span is out. Hunter Pence (knee bruise) is expected to return to right field Sunday, but the outfield is hanging by a string. The Giants have even talked about putting Eduardo Nuñez in left, and on Saturday he played several innings in right because of the Span injury. 

Bochy challenged his starters, but the regulars behind them will need to be better, too. The bats didn’t get going until the eighth inning at Coors Field, and even then, a rally was cut short and the Giants promptly gave up six more runs. Nuñez was late getting over on a pop-up that clanked off Joe Panik’s glove and extended the inning. 

“You’re going to deal with that,” Bochy said. “He’s going to feel discombobulated.”

Bochy had just one positive to point to, and he lit up when asked about Chris Stratton, who threw three hitless innings to keep the Giants within shouting distance. 

“Boy, that kid did a nice job," he said. 

Stratton isn’t far down the depth chart if there are further injuries in the rotation, and with a fastball that touched 95, he looked better than he has in years. The Giants hope they don’t need to test him. They’re banged-up, but at the moment, they still have four of their projected starting pitcher, along with Ty Blach. Without Bumgarner, the group will have to be better, and Bochy let them know it Saturday. 

Instant Replay: Rockies crush Moore, Giants lose Span in third straight loss

Instant Replay: Rockies crush Moore, Giants lose Span in third straight loss

BOX SCORE

DENVER — Near the end of last season’s collapse, the Giants spent a couple of days sitting eight games out of first place. Less than three weeks into this season, they’re already six out, and there are no signs that this is going to get better anytime soon.

The Giants managed just four hits against rookie Antonio Senzatela and went on to lose 12-3 at Coors Field. They also lost another starter to injury. 

A week to the day after Jarrett Parker broke his clavicle, Denard Span was removed after a similar collision with an outfield wall. Span has a mild right shoulder sprain and will go for X-rays. Throw in Hunter Pence’s left knee bruise and the Giants played most of this game without all three of their projected starting outfielders. 

To hang in a game like this one, the Giants needed a one-man show on the mound. Matt Moore wasn’t up to it. The lefty gave up six runs in four innings, including three homers. Mark Reynolds hit a deep blast in a three-run first and Trevor Story and Charlie Blackmon went deep in a three-run fourth. 

The Giants threatened in the eighth, getting two runs back and sending the tying run to the plate. That rally seemed a lifetime away by the top of the ninth. The Rockies scored six runs off Neil Ramirez in their half of the eighth. 

Starting pitching report: No pitcher likes this place, but Moore has a real beef. In three career starts at Coors Field he has thrown just 11 2/3 innings and allowed 16 earned runs. 

Bullpen report: Chris Stratton, called up for the Madison Bumgarner roster spot, made his season debut in the fifth. He was outstanding. Stratton allowed just a walk in three innings and he topped out at 95 mph, a significant tick up from where he was last year. Stratton struck out three and broke Nolan Arenado’s bat on a grounder. 

At the plate: Joe Panik went deep in the sixth for his first homer of the year. 

In the field: Eduardo Nuñez made a great stop in the second and threw Stephen Cardullo out as he rolled over. An inning later, he was in right field. The Span injury forced Nuñez to right for just the seventh time in his career. He wasn't tested until the eighth, when he was late getting over to a deep pop-up that Panik dropped. 

Attendance: The Rockies announced a crowd of 39,239 human beings. They’re excited about this team, and for good reason. 

Up next: Save them, Jeff.