Giants

D'Backs jumping on Giants early

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D'Backs jumping on Giants early

PHOENIX For all the talk about this retooled Giants lineupand its ability to start fast, its the top of their vaunted rotation that isstumbling at the outset.

Less than 24 hours after the Arizona Diamondbacks shockedTim Lincecum in the first inning on opening day, their power-packed lineup senta pair of early jolts through young Madison Bumgarner. Aaron Hill took the22-year-old left-hander deep in each of the first two innings and the Giantswerent able to rally all the way back in a 5-4 loss at Chase Field onSaturday.

BAGGARLY: Giants come up short again, fall to D'Backs 5-4

Itll be up to Matt Cain -- once the Brinks truck finishesdelivering the signing bonus from his 112.5 million extension -- to help theGiants avoid being swept to open the season.

A clean first inning would help. The Diamondbacks havescored five runs in the opening frame against Lincecum and Bumgarner. Thistime, Hill connected for a solo shot and Chris Young pelted an RBI double offthe wall before Bumgarner could get back in the dugout after throwing 32pitches.

Hill launched a two-run shot off Bumgarner in the secondinning, putting the Giants in a 4-0 hole.

Pablo Sandoval and pinch hitter Brett Pill hit two-run homers,but for the second consecutive night, the Giants couldnt rally all the wayback.

Similar game, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. These guysare trying to get settled in and (Arizona) is taking advantage of mistakes.Its a good sign the way were coming back, but thats a tough challenge aheadof you.

Itll be tough all season if their rotation doesnt begin topost some zeroes early. Then again, this is just two games. And althoughLincecum didnt exactly look great while hovering between 89-91 mph in theopener, he and Bumgarner both settled down and pitched effectively after theearly turbulence.

Theyll be fine, Bochy said. Bumgarner was just missingspots and this is a good hitting ballclub. You never know what youre going toget, but with our starters, Ill say this: We like our chances.

Bochy pulled Bumgarner for pinch hitter Nate Schierholtz inthe top of the fifth; the left-hander allowed seven hits and walked two whilestriking out three in his four innings. Bochy said Bumgarner wanted tocontinue, and if it were later in the season, he wouldve stayed with him.

"Its not the time to overtax him, Bochy said.

Although Lincecums shaky start shouldnt have come as acomplete surprise given the way he looked this spring, Bumgarner had givenevery impression that hed be ready to blow the doors off the station wagonfrom the first pitch. He was dominant most of the spring while posting a27-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

He said his pitches were just missing up in the zone aproblem he doesnt expect to continue.

Id like to get started off on a good note, but I feel wayahead of where I was at this time last year, said Bumgarner, who was 0-6 afterhis first eight outings in 2011. Today, early, I was off. But I had a goodspring. I dont think itll carry over.

Even through his rough April and May last season, Bumgarnerdidnt give up many homers. His two gopherballs to Hill matched the number hethrew in his first 13 starts last season.

Bumgarner also lost for the first time in seven careerappearances against the Diamondbacks; he had been 3-0 with a 2.41 ERA againstthem.

If youre searching for positives, here are seven of them:The number of runs theyve scored against Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson, theDiamondbacks top two starters who shut them down last season.

Hudson had allowed just a single to Bumgarner until thefourth, when Melky Cabrera singled and Sandoval hit what appeared to be a good,down-and-in pitch deep into the right field seats.

Arizona made it 5-2 after scoring a run off right-hander DanOtero in the fifth, but Brandon Belt drew a leadoff walk in the seventh andPills pinch homer knocked Hudson from the game.

It was the first pinch homer of Pills career. It alsomarked the second time he homered in his first big league at-bat of the year.Youll recall that last season, Pill became the first Giant since Will Clark (aquarter century earlier) to homer in his first big league plate appearance.

The first pitch was a slider and I looked pretty dumb onit, so I thought hed throw it again, Pill said. I guessed right and he hungthat one.

The Giants werent keen on putting Pill in highly leveragedsituations off the bench; they might be ready to reconsider now. Hes done itbefore, as he explained.

My freshman year in college, thats what I did mostly waspinch hit, said Pill, a product of Cal State Fullerton. That was a long timeago, but mentally, youre watching the pitcher and watching what hes doing.You know youve got to be aggressive out there. Youre not going to see toomany pitches. Other than that, its just staying loose.

The Giants managed just one baserunner in the final twoinnings against David Hernandez and closer J.J. Putz, who recorded his secondconsecutive save.

And still, Buster Posey hasnt caught nine innings. TheGiants hope to force the Diamondbacks to bat in the ninth in the series finale.

Posey, for one, doesnt expect to play from behind allseason.

These guys know what theyre doing, Posey said. Our guyshave a track record and we know how good they are. Its just the first couplegames, so, you know you keep going.

'We're not the worst' banner at stake in Giants-Phillies series

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AP

'We're not the worst' banner at stake in Giants-Phillies series

Nobody is paying much attention to this, and for good reason I grant you, but the Giants could end the suspense over which bad National League team is the worst National League team this weekend.

Plan your snacking regimen accordingly.

San Francisco beat Philadelphia last night, 5-4, to widen its stranglehold on 14th place in the National League to four full games. Further success this weekend could widen that to five or even eight games, and that would almost be enough to create an impromptu parade around the ballpark.

The Giants’ future is too amorphous to consider quite yet – we know this by the absurd suggestions that they could be the next home for Giancarlo Stanton.

And you thought the Warriors-to-chase-Paul-George stories were absurd.

But we digress.

The Giants are still figuring out what a rebuild would look like, and how that rebuild would manifest itself, but until it does, there is still the Ypres-like slog of the 2017 season to endure. And this weekend right here is about all that is left.

There is no spoiling the Dodgers’ march to regular season glory. There are no postseason awards for any individual to chase. Catching the Padres for fourth seems increasingly unlikely.

Now there could be a question about whether Bruce Bochy wants to return but none about whether the Giants would do anything to him, and if you need something to chew on, Bobby Evans’ longterm future as general manager might be sufficiently gristly, though we doubt it will result in anything.

There is only the raising of the “WE’RE NOT THE WORST” banner over the promenade in right field. And this looks like the weekend when it can be best be decided. Like we said, snack accordingly.

Down on the Farm: When Lincecum looked like batboy, became Giant in San Jose

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AP

Down on the Farm: When Lincecum looked like batboy, became Giant in San Jose

The last time Tim Lincecum pitched on a MLB mound was Aug. 5, 2016. Lincecum only lasted 3 1/3 innings in front of his hometown Seattle fans while doused in Angels red. The final image of Lincecum may be in an Angels jersey, but it's also with a Giants-orange glove on his left hand. 

If that is the last time Lincecum ever pitches again in the bigs, Aug. 5, 2016 will go down as a date many hope to forget as The Freak was a diminished version of himself. Remember the date, not so much the year. 

Exactly 10 years before that last pitch, Lincecum became Giant. Only two months after going No. 10 overall in the 2006 MLB Draft, Lincecum made his San Jose Giants debut on Aug. 5, 2006. He started the game against the Bakersfield Blaze and allowed two earned runs over 2 2/3 innings pitched while striking out five. 

Lincecum's stint in San Jose only lasted six games, including Game 1 of the playoffs. At 22 years old, Lincecum went 2-0 with a 1.95 ERA, struck out 48 batters in 27.2 innings pitched, and held opposing hitters to a .135 batting average, which somehow is a career-high for his time in the minors with Giants affiliates.

Here's how Joe Ritzo, the voice of the San Jose Giants, remembers the time San Jose fans witnessed a sight unlike anything else with Lincecum.  

Q: What was your first impression of Lincecum in San Jose? 

A: Unique talent. Everyone knew he was a first-round draft pick and there was a lot of hype and a lot of high expectations for him when he joined us. He went out there and was just dominant from the very first start. He was just a fun guy to watch because he gave you such a different look out there as a smaller pitcher with an unusual motion and then the ball coming out at 95, 96 miles an hour with this big curve ball as well that hitters in the California League just couldn't touch. And he was going up against hitters in this league -- in many cases with two, three, four years of professional experience -- and Tim was playing college baseball two months earlier.

I thought he was the best pitcher in this league when he was there those final six or so weeks of the season. A lot of fun to watch. I think our fans here really looked forward to his starts because you had a pretty good idea he probably wasn't going to be in San Jose for too long. 

Q: Did he remind you anybody else or was he completely different? 

A: Oh no, I mean he was totally his own guy. He was a very unique pitcher and the way he operated out there with the motion that not a lot of people had seen before. It was like something I don't think anyone had ever really experienced that year in San Jose. 

I remember our manager back then, Lenn Sakata, saying that when he first saw Tim when he walked in he thought he was the batboy. It was just this little guy with this baby face. It was like, 'No, that's your new ace pitcher.' Then he went out there and was just spectacular and kind of made you sit up in your chair and go, 'Whoa! This guy could be sometin' special.'

Q: Was that your real first impression? Just how he looked so small, but was amazing on the mound. 

A: Yeah, I mean he looked like a kid out there. Like I said earlier, I think he was the best pitcher in the California League those final few weeks of the season and he was our Game 1 starter in the playoffs that September, and won that start. I think we all knew that he was gonna move quickly through the system with what we saw here in San Jose. 

Q: Is he the best pitcher you've ever seen at that level? 

A: I think he's the best pitcher I've seen here in San Jose. Madison Bumgarner was pretty spectacular as well, and like Tim, was only here for a short amount of time. But Tim, the stuff was just electric. And you had a feeling watching him, he could probably go up to the big leagues the next day and get people out.

He goes to Triple-A the next year, I think he was only there for a month, and then he's in the big leagues so that kind of turned out to be pretty true. A special talent. 

Q: With the Giants, what is your favorite Tim Lincecum memory? 

A: My favorite memory was how he pitched the final game of the World Series in 2010. I grew up in the Bay Area, I grew up a Giants fan and I was a fan like anyone else that October and was all caught up in what was going on with that team and loving every minute of it. He was outstanding as everyone knows during that playoff run and it was fitting that he got a chance to be out there in what turned out to be the clinching game in Texas.

That I think was the moment for me that sticks with me after all these years with Tim Lincecum as a Giant. 

Q: Do you think we'll ever see someone else like a Tim Lincecum? 

A: I don't know. I don't know how you teach what he did. It clearly worked for him. I'm not sure if we'll ever see anything like that ever again. It was pretty incredible watching him here in San Jose because it was like a motion we've never seen. I think at that time, he wasn't really refined as the pitcher that he became at the major league level with changing speeds a lot, becoming more of a pitcher.

He was flat out overpowering in San Jose and they couldn't hit him here. I don't know if we'll ever see anything quite like that motion and the size, just the whole package he had back then.