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.

Magic Johnson vows World Series win for Dodgers this year


Magic Johnson vows World Series win for Dodgers this year

The Los Angeles Dodgers are 71-31 ahead of a three-game home series with the San Francisco Giants, and owners the best record in baseball. 


Confident co-owner Magic Johnson on Thursday made a bold statement.

"Last but not least, the Dodgers are going to win the World Series this year," he said while standing next to Clayton Kershaw and addressing a group at Dodgers Stadium during a "Ping Pong 4 Purpose — Kershaw's Challenge" event.

"That's the only ring I don't have and I need that ring."

The Dodgers have been eliminated from the playoffs in each of the past four seasons -- twice in the NLDS and twice in the NLCS. They haven't reached the World Series since defeating the A's in 1988.

"And last but not least, the @dodgers are going to win the World Series this year." #pingpong4purpose #dodgers #dodgersradio

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Familiar faces trying to find success, health with Giants' Triple-A affiliate


Familiar faces trying to find success, health with Giants' Triple-A affiliate

SACRAMENTO -- A young man named Clayton Blackburn walked into the home clubhouse at Raley Field on Tuesday decked out in Round Rock gear. 

"You're here for my start?" he said, smiling.

Sorry, Clayton, I was on Panda Watch for two days. But it was fun watching Blackburn, DFA’d in a weird move earlier this year, face former teammates. Blackburn hasn't had a great season with Texas, but he is still just 24 and he has gotten into terrific shape. Given what happened during his call-up last year, you should root for him to get a second chance. 

Blackburn gave up three runs over six innings against his former team. The River Cats won on Jarrett Parker’s walk-off homer to dead center with two outs in the ninth. Parker was one of many familiar faces in the lineup Tuesday. Here are some thoughts on guys you know, and guys you will: 

--- Trevor Brown is the backup catcher in Sacramento, which is certainly a fall from his run as Buster Posey's backup. Brown is batting .168 in what has been a very frustrating season for him. The groin injury that slowed him early lingered, he had a concussion, and he hasn't been able to find any BABIP luck. This year seems a lost one for a guy who was a big part of 2016. I’m still intrigued by his versatility.

--- Chris Shaw is the latest podcast guest. You can stream it here. We talked about his power, his move to left, thinking he was a Ray, and more. I didn't see many at-bats, but I saw enough in left field to be confident he'll be fine out there. 

--- Parker started in center field and made a nice running catch at the wall. He wouldn't hold up as a big league center fielder, but perhaps the Giants should throw him out there a few times down the stretch to see if he can be a backup option next season. Parker said he finally found his swing over the past few games. His rehab assignment ends in about a week, and he’s expected back in San Francisco. 

--- Reyes Moronta, who spent a day in the majors in May, was promoted to Triple-A. In his first inning, Drew Stubbs took him deep. I found that quirky. It's been a long season with far too many transactions. 

--- If Steven Duggar would stay healthy, he would probably make it up to SF in September. Unfortunately, his hamstring was tight again this week, keeping him out of San Jose’s lineup for a few days. Speaking of health: Tyler Beede’s groin injury will keep him out longer than just the standard DL time … Melvin Upton Jr. is still in Sacramento rehabbing a shoulder injury, but he’s not throwing yet so it’s hard to picture him making any noise before September call-up time …Christian Arroyo is in Arizona rehabbing from hand surgery. 

--- Derek Law was smiling because Derek Law is always smiling. He has a 4.32 ERA but said he feels much better than those results. “My slider is back,” Law said. He should be, too, when the Giants expand their roster. There are some other interesting relievers in Sacramento. A first baseman told me opposing hitters grumble about facing D.J. Snelten (1.84 ERA) and Tyler Rogers has a 1.94 ERA as a dirt-scraping right-hander. 

--- A teammate predicted Carlos Moncrief would hit .270 in the big leagues if called up, and he ended up getting that call Wednesday morning. Moncrief is a fun clubhouse addition. He gave Sandoval some good-natured heckling for talking to reporters after going 1 for 4. 

--- The Giants have had a lot of veterans visit San Jose this season. They all bought the postgame spread, but word around the block is that Madison Bumgarner provided the best meal. He had steak and lobster delivered to San Jose Muni.