EXTRA BAGGS: D'Backs laud Lincecum's stuff


EXTRA BAGGS: D'Backs laud Lincecum's stuff

PHOENIX Tim Lincecums average fastball was a shadeunder 90 mph and he topped out at 91. He said he didnt throw a single slider.Ordinarily, this would be cause for alarm.And maybe it should be. Neither Lincecum nor Giantsmanager Bruce Bochy expressed any concern over the pitches that the two-time CyYoung Award winner threw in Friday nights season-opening, 5-4 loss to theArizona Diamondbacks.His stuff was good, Bochy said.For what its worth, the Diamondbacks concurred.As far as his stuff tailing off? No, I dont thinkthats the case, Arizona leadoff hitter Willie Bloomquist said. I think itsmaybe guys see him more and more and they know what to expect off him. Hesstill got No. 1, A-plus type stuff. Give the credit to the guys in heretonight. They figured out a way to beat him and thats not always an easy thingto do.Said Justin Upton, whose leadoff double in the sixthignited Arizonas winning rally: He was pretty dominant after the firstinning, so I dont want to say we got to him. But after you get a few at-batsoff of a guy, you start to get a feel for him."Arizona manager Kirk Gibson was coy in his pregame mediasession when asked about Lincecum saying he wouldnt throw his slider. Gibsonsanswer was something along the lines of, Well, yeah, sure. Thats what hessaying.Chris Young thought his homer in the first inning came ona slider. Lincecum said no, it was a changeup.Regardless, Gibson called the pitch a mistake.Early on, we beat on his mistakes, Gibson said. What acompetitor that kid is. He just has a way about him. Hes hard to predict. Andhes always a challenge. I know hes done very well against us, but I think thelast four games weve done well against him.Its true. Lincecum is 0-4 with a 6.85 ERA in his lastfour starts against Arizona, dating to last August. Prior to that, he was 7-2with a 2.50 ERA in his first 15 outings against them.One big difference: Paul Goldschmidt. Last seasonsmidsummer call-up has three homers off Lincecum in 11 at-bats.Asked about Lincecums velocity, Gibson practically ranfrom the question.I think someone said that a couple years ago, he didntlose a game the rest of the season, Gibson said. I better not comment onthat.--Ian Kennedy, by the way, hasnt lost to an NL West teamsince 2009. Hes now 11-0 against the division this year and last.--Brandon Crawford (sprained left thumb) said he ditchedhis protective padding under his fielding glove after five innings because itwas too bulky. It didnt contribute to his error, though, on Aaron Hillshard-hit grounder that ate him up.A play I shouldve made, he said.--There are those who will take issue with Bruce Bochysdecision to let Aubrey Huff face sidewinding lefty Joe Paterson with two outand two on in the seventh. Brett Pill was on the bench.But I didnt have a problem with that. Huff does OKagainst lefties, and late in the game on opening day, you dont want to lift aveteran like him for some one like Pill, who has only a few weeks of big leagueexperience. (Remember Huffs hit off Atlantas Matt Dunn in the NLCS?)--Paterson is a former Giants farmhand. The Diamondbacks pilfered him in the Rule 5 draft a couple of years ago. Javier Lopez is very good at his job, but Arizona is paying their guy about 4 million less.
--Third base umpire James Hoye must be a USC alum. He rangup Crawford twice on check swings. One of them didnt look close to a swing.--If we learned anything today, these 18 games between theGiants and Diamondbacks are going to be entertaining. Gibson and Bochy clearlyenjoy competing against each other and they both have the personnel to putrunners in motion. Theres going to be a lot of cat-and-mouse going on.Gibson was particularly illuminating in his pregamesession:Theyre very tough. Theyre very hungry, Gibson said.Theyve reshaped their club and theyre going to bring new challenges to usall. But were confident well play a good ballgame and the result will be inour favor.They won the World Series (in 2010) and so everyonefocuses on what they do, and then make adjustments, he continued. We did lastyear. Now the Giants made adjustments. Theyre a totally different team.The matchup should be even better in Game Two. DanielHudson was throwing the best of anyone in Arizona's camp. Ditto for MadisonBumgarner. And on it goes...

After Giants' first Coors Field sweep in 15 years, Bochy preaches urgency

After Giants' first Coors Field sweep in 15 years, Bochy preaches urgency

DENVER — Bruce Bochy watched the first two games of this road trip from his home in San Diego and the final three from the top step of the dugout at Coors Field. He did not like what he saw, but at the moment he’s more concerned with what he might hear. 

“What you have to careful of — you can’t let any kind of complacency set in and say, ‘It’s early, we’ll be ok.’ I don’t want to hear that either,” Bochy said. “It’s the old adage that you come out with some sense of urgency. All these games are important. You’ve got to stay away from that attitude, too: ‘We’re not through April yet and have 140-something games left.’ That doesn’t work out.”

Three weeks into the season, nothing is working. The rotation has a 5.02 ERA, the worst in the Majors. The lineup scored 10 runs over a five-game road trip and got shut out twice. The bullpen hasn’t been given many leads with which to make up for the first-week trouble. The defense has been uncharacteristically sloppy. 

It has added up to a 6-13 start, tied for the worst in club history. The Giants have lost six of seven and they’ll head home seven games out of first place. 

“Right now there’s nothing clicking,” Bochy said. “Let’s be honest, this has been a rough start and we’re not very good right now. I’m not saying we’re not very good. We are good, but we’ve got to find a way to come out of this. This was a tough way to end this series. We’ve been through it. I’ve got men out there and that’s when you find a way to get through this. They will.”

Perhaps Monday will bring some fresh blood for the roster. Drew Stubbs appears poised to give the Giants another veteran option should they cut bait with a struggling outfielder. Michael Morse could be an option in left field soon, and if he’s mostly relegated to first, the Giants can put Brandon Belt in the outfield. He looked fine there Sunday while playing both corner spots. 

Those are moves made around the edges of the roster, though. There is no magic bullet coming from the outside, not even Christian Arroyo, who continues to mash at Triple-A. This is a $200 million roster and much of that has been spent on the rotation. Through 13 games, it is the worst in the National League, and the ace was lost to an off-field accident. Sure, the starters have pitched at Chase Field and Coors Field, but on back-to-back days they were dominated by Rockies rookies who make a living here. 

Samardzija could not keep pace with left-hander Kyle Freeland, who sawed off a handful of bats while cruising through seven. Samardzjiza gave up a run early, two more in the fourth on a hanging splitter that was blasted to right, and five in the sixth.

Bochy challenged his starting staff to improve after Saturday’s game. He has not publicly done the same with the lineup, but subtle changes have been made here and there. It is a group that, outside of a couple of players, has lacked energy. Because they don’t hit for power, the Giants are reliant on stringing together rallies. For the fourth time in seven games, the lineup failed to put a runner on base the first time through the order. 

“Even in spring training we had our games where we had trouble getting something going early,” Bochy said. “It’s the fourth or fifth before a hit. Somehow, we’ve got to change that.”

The Giants played Sunday without Jarrett Parker (clavicle) and Denard Span (right shoulder sprain), but for the most part the lineup is healthy. Bochy said he has talked to hitting coach Hensley Meulens about possibly altering pre-game routines, but that seems a cosmetic fix. 

“We’ve talked and we’ve shaken up the lineup, but as you saw today, there’s only so much you can do,” he said. 

Bochy knows there is outside noise regarding the roster. His eyes bulged the other day when asked if Arroyo would get a call-up next week. The Giants do not feel he is quite ready, or that there is a spot for him on the infield. For all the potential bench options waiting at Triple-A, this team's core is set, and it’s not outrageously banged-up compared to the rest of the division. 

The Dodgers, who come into town Monday, have 10 players on the disabled list, including No. 2 starter Rich Hill, second baseman Logan Forsythe, and left fielder Andre Ethier. The Rockies, the best team in the NL West thus far, are off to this start without big offseason acquisition Ian Desmond and young slugger David Dahl. Jon Gray, their opening day starter, went on the DL after facing the Giants in San Francisco. Chad Bettis, a rotation member, is getting treatment for testicular cancer. 

This division is better than expected, and as the end of April approaches, the Giants are bringing up the rear. Bochy’s plea for urgency was one that would have fit right in with last season’s second half. Back then, the Giants could at least lean on a huge start that got them into the postseason. As they flew home Sunday, there was nothing to fall back on but a simple truth.

This is the team. It must play better.

“We have everything we need in this room,” Samardzija said. “Sometimes you need to go out on the field and prove it.”


Instant Replay: Giants' struggles continue in sweep from Rockies

Instant Replay: Giants' struggles continue in sweep from Rockies


DENVER — Bruce Bochy spent about 10 minutes before Sunday’s game talking about potential options in left field and center. The problems for this lineup, however, currently go much deeper than the outfield. 

A day after the Giants managed just four hits off Antonio Senzatela, the bats went completely limp against fellow Rockies rookie Kyle Freeland. The Giants were shut out 8-0, a rarity at Coors Field. They were blanked twice on the road trip and scored just 10 runs during a five-game swing through Kansas City and Denver. 

The sweep at Coors Field was the Giants' first since 2002. At 6-13, they have the worst record in the National League.

For the fourth time in seven games, and third time on this five-game road trip, the Giants went one time through the order without a baserunner. That puts added pressure on your starter, and Jeff Samardzija couldn’t keep it close. Charlie Blackmon hit a leadoff liner to right that was misplayed into a triple and he scored on a sacrifice fly. Gerardo Parra got a spinner down in the zone in the fourth and blasted a two-run shot to right. 

As they did Saturday night, the Rockies pulled away with a huge rally. Nolan Arenado’s infield single and a walk of Carlos Gonzalez set the table in the sixth. Gerardo Parra lined a single to center and all runners advanced when Gorkys Hernandez kicked it. Trevor Story’s single to right was bobbled by Hunter Pence and two more scored. Blackmon’s double made it 8-0.

Starting pitching report: Samardzija was charged with seven earned in 5 1/3 innings. He has a 7.40 ERA through four starts. The starting staff has a 5.02 ERA, the worst in the majors. That won’t play, not when you’ve spent most of your resources the last two years on starters. 

Bullpen report: Hunter Strickland's Mullet had a scoreless debut. 

At the plate: Nope. 

In the field: Brandon Belt’s first start in left this season was rather uneventful. He caught a liner right at him in the first and came up inches short on a diving attempt in foul territory. Belt moved to right in the seventh inning. He had one previous inning there in the big leagues but he actually prefers right because it’s the same angle as his normal position. Belt gloved a liner right at him in the eighth. 

Attendance: The Rockies announced a crowd of 42,011 human beings and one donkey, who was a menace. 

Up next: The first look at the Dodgers. The Giants will see Hyun-Jin Ryu, Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood and likely Julio Urias in the four-game series.