EXTRA BAGGS: Giants need Lincecum the sandbagger, etc.


EXTRA BAGGS: Giants need Lincecum the sandbagger, etc.


SAN FRANCISCO Once upon a time, the Giants would docartwheels and hold sparklers when Tim Lincecum would take the mound in the rubber game of aseries.

Now theyre crossing their fingers.

Its hard to believe that the Giants have lost sevenconsecutive times with Lincecum on the mound. If hes battling any focusissues, hell have to purge them quickly. The Texas Rangers are the bestoffensive club in the majors.

What does Giants manager Bruce Bochy expect Sunday?

We have all the confidence when Timmy hits the mound. We alldo, Bochy said. Were all behind him. This is a special talent. HopefullyTimmys at the top of his game and gives us a chance. Thats all we ask.

It's a crazy thought, but maybe the Rangers are coming at a good time. Lincecumcertainly had swing-and-miss stuff in his last start against the San DiegoPadres (who are on other end of the color wheel from Texas, admittedly). He retired 11of the last 12 hitters, striking out eight of them.

But once again, he endured the big inning. And it followed thesame pattern: Some mistakes up in the zone, a walk or two, and then a fluky hit(a broken-bat double on a good pitch to Cameron Maybin). Its true, Lincecumsopponent batting average on balls in play (.330, well above the league averageof .298) indicates that he has been a bit unlucky this season.

Unlucky or not, a starting pitcher still has to compete.Luck, velocity, stuff, blisters, errors, poor run support none of it matters. Ifthe tides begin to rise, you have to find a way to throw more sandbags on thelevee. No matter how you fill them.

Lincecum hasnt been able to do it yet this season. Butthen, hes always been a bit of a sandbagger at heart. Weve seen him pitchwith a season on the line. The Rangers certainly would have a hard timebelieving that he struggled so mightily in August, 2010, with the way hepitched against them a little more than two months later.

So maybe the Rangers, as dangerous as they are, willrekindle some positive memories and some mojo. And maybe Lincecum will bringhis shovel and get back to work.

And if not? If the losing streak hits eight? Well, that's not the way Lincecum will want to go home. His next start will be his first at Seattle's Safeco Field.

Gregor Blancos baseball IQ qualifies him for baseball Mensa. On Twitter (@CSNBaggs) and in the Instant Replay file, I pointed out how he racedfrom left field to try to catch Mike Napoli napping off third base after asacrifice bunt. It nearly worked.

Blancos baserunning decision in the third was brilliant,too. He stopped rather than run into second baseman Ian Kinslers tag. The decision was so unexpected thatKinsler ended up throwing off the wrong foot and slinging the ball away. The Rangersrecorded no outs from what shouldve been a double-play grounder. It gave theGiants a run, too.

You'll hear scouts point to someone and say, "that's a winning player." This is what they mean.

Really nice game for Nate Schierholtz, who was masterful inright field even though he hasnt played there (or anywhere) with regularity inthe last six weeks or so.

Schierholtz also had two extra-base hits. He hadnt collected oneof those since his six-hit day in that April doubleheader at Citi Field in NewYork.

Bochy said he plans to get Aubrey Huff at-bats as the DHwhen the Giants play nine consecutive games in AL parks beginning Friday atSeattle. But Huff continues to hit pop-ups and show an absolute lack of batspeed. Its hard to argue with anyone who would tell Bochy the DH would bebetter used to rotate his outfielders, get Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan offtheir feet for a day or two, maybe do the same with Buster Posey, and get Schierholtz in the lineup more often.

Brandon Belt was 0-for-4 to drop his average to .228. He simply isnt getting the bloops and dinks and dunks that fell for him earlier inthe season. But hes also driving more pitches, even if most of them are findinggloves. When he's making contact, it's harder contact.

Bochy confirmed that Belt is working to incorporatechanges to his swing, and by all accounts, hes going to keep getting hischance.

Hes going to go out there and let his talent surface,Bochy said.

The Giants could move Pablo Sandoval to first base in thelong run, but Bochy made it clear thats not an option he wants to entertainnow. So Belt has no real competition for at-bats at the moment. But as the tradedeadline approaches, you can set your watch by this: GM Brian Sabean willdo everything possible to acquire a first baseman if Belt doesnt begin toproduce.

The Giants power outage at home is getting ridiculous.

Since Blanco homered May 14, the Giants have gone 15games (477 at-bats!) without a home run at AT&T Park. The 15-game stretchmatches the longest in franchise history (1980) and the longest by any majorleague team since the 1990 Houston Astros failed to homer in 16 consecutivegames at the Astrodome.

Heres the most ridiculous part: The Giants are 10-5 overthis homerless stretch at home.

Winning games, came Buster Poseys simple reply.

Cant argue with that. Youd rather have a lineup of playerswho know their limitations and accept their environment and knock doubles andtriples around the yard than a bunch of frustrated hackers who swing for thefences.

Lord knows Giants fans have seen plenty of Column B over theyears.

Vin Scully on Dodgers Opening Day: ‘I’ll probably have things to do’

Vin Scully on Dodgers Opening Day: ‘I’ll probably have things to do’

WASHINGTON -- On Monday, the Dodgers will play their first opening day since 1950 without Vin Scully calling their games. He won't be in the stands. He won't make a point of watching on TV, either.

"It's a day game. I'll probably have things to do," the famed 89-year-old announcer told The Associated Press from his home in Hidden Hills, California. "I might catch a piece of it."

Not that Scully has any regrets since retiring after last season. He says he's grateful for every minute he spent with the Dodgers, the franchise he joined 67 years ago in Brooklyn and followed to Los Angeles eight years later. He feels blessed to have worked as long as he did covering the game he fell in love with as a boy.

But he's learned that after a lifetime in the broadcast booth, watching a game as a fan holds little appeal.

"During the World Series back around '77 or '78, there was a game at Dodger Stadium with the Yankees, and I went to the game as a spectator. Now, I hadn't been as a spectator in a long, long time, and I felt somewhat restless that I wasn't broadcasting," Scully recalled Tuesday.

"I did not have the challenge of trying to describe, accurately and quickly, the way it should be done. I just sat there, and I was not happy, I'll be honest. So I realized that although I love the game, what I loved more was broadcasting it," he said.

Scully spoke to the AP because the Library of Congress has announced it will preserve his call of a 1957 game between the Dodgers and the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds, the final time they played at the hallowed old stadium. Both teams moved to California after that season, opening up the West Coast to Major League Baseball.

Scully's call of Sandy Koufax's 1965 perfect game is more famous. But that game at the Polo Grounds meant more to him personally, because he grew up going to games there, cheering for the Giants and dreaming of watching from the press box.

"It was so meaningful to me. I'm not sure what it really means to baseball fans anymore," Scully said. "The sands of time have washed over the Polo Grounds. But for me, it was one of the more memorable games I was ever involved in."

During that broadcast, Scully implored the players to take their time before there franchises left town: "Let's take it easy, we just want to take one last lingering look at both of you." The Library of Congress called it "a masterful example of the artistry that great sports announcers bring to their work, as well as their empathy for players and fans."

Six decades later, Scully is having an easier time letting go. So no plans to keep track Monday when Los Angeles plays the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium.

"All summer long, I expect to get feelings of nostalgia, wistfulness, whatever the word may be, but no, I am comfortable, I do know in my heart and soul I am where I should be, and that really is all I need," he said.

"Sure, after 67 years, you'll bet I'll miss it," he added. "But heck, I miss the guys I hung out with when I was in school."

Giants spring training Day 44: Marrero caps huge spring with eighth homer

Giants spring training Day 44: Marrero caps huge spring with eighth homer

MESA, Ariz. — The Giants went 0-62 last season when trailing after eight innings. Chris Marrero wasn’t around for any of that, but it’s a stat that could help Marrero as he tries to lock up a bench spot. 

The first baseman/left fielder crushed a three-run shot in the ninth inning Tuesday, wiping out a two-run deficit against the Cubs. Marrero also has two walk-off homers this spring. 

“This kid, you see it when he goes up there. He’s got great focus,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s intensity and determination. From day one, you could see it in his at-bats. Late in the game, he seems very comfortable. He wants to go up there.”

Tuesday’s homer, which shot out to right-center, was the eighth of the spring for Marrero. That ties him with a guy named Bryce Harper for the MLB lead, and the vast majority of Marrero’s bombs were no-doubters. 

“It’s been a great spring for him,” Bochy said. “The last game here, it seems fitting that he would do something like that. He’s already done it a couple of times. This kid has done all he can. I love his swing and the work that he’s put in.”

With Michael Morse down, Marrero is the best remaining option as a power right-handed bat off the bench, a glaring need a year ago. Justin Ruggiano, another one in the mix, followed Marrero’s shot with one of his own. The homer was Ruggiano’s second of the spring. 

Ruggiano is a better fit defensively in the outfield, but Marrero has been solid at first and Bochy said he’s fine with what he’s seen in left field. “He’s still working on it,” Bochy said, noting that Marrero will play left field during the Bay Bridge Series. 

LEADING OFF: Denard Span saw a wild pitch bounce off the bricks behind home plate, and he never slowed down. Span sped around third in the second inning and slid in ahead of the throw. The notable part of the play wasn’t that a quirky bounce allowed Span to take 180 feet on a wild pitch. It was that his legs did. The 33-year-old has been a different guy in his second spring with the Giants. Last year, Span was coming off hip surgery. This spring, his old game has returned.

“I’ve just been able to do the things I’ve always been able to do,” Span said. “I have more control of my body. I’m stronger. I had a full offseason and a full spring training to get my legs up under me. The last couple of weeks, I’ve felt much better and more confident.”

A healthy and spry Span would be a big boost to a lineup that often looked flat in the second half last season Span showed off every aspect of his game Tuesday. He blasted a leadoff homer on Jake Arrieta’s second pitch, and during their second matchup, he put a perfect bunt down the third base line for a single. Span stole second easily before his race home. 

“He’s playing terrific baseball and he’s been a real inspiration, being our leadoff hitter,” Bochy said. “That’s what we needed — energy at the top of the order.”

TRAINER’S ROOM: Eduardo Nuñez (shoulder) is feeling much better, and Bochy said he’ll play third base during the games at AT&T Park before getting four or five innings at shortstop on Saturday. Joe Panik (drilled in the back on Monday) said he’s feeling fine. 

POSITION BATTLES: Here’s the latest on Matt Cain, and here’s an update on Aaron Hill and Jimmy Rollins. 

ICYMI: Big news today from NBC Bay Area. Matt Williams, Javier Lopez and Cody Ross have joined out pre- and post-game shows. You can find stories about those guys on our homepage here. Those shows will also now be an hour long on both ends of the game, adding an extra hour of Giants coverage to your day. Which is good. 

That’s all on the way during the regular season. If you missed any of our spring coverage, you can find a bunch of features here, and podcasts here (spring pods included Mike Morse, Matt Cain, Mac Williamson, Jimmy Rollins and others, with one more coming this week). And in case you’re new to our coverage, the Twitter account is here and the Facebook page is here. Next stop, San Francisco …