EXTRA BAGGS: Posey doesn't mind abuse from Lincecum


EXTRA BAGGS: Posey doesn't mind abuse from Lincecum


SAN FRANCISCO Buster Posey absorbed a painful foul tip offhis right foot. He dived and shifted to keep balls in the dirt in front of him.One bounced up and hit him in the well, you know.

Posey formed a battery with Tim Lincecum for the first timesince June 16. And a battering is what he received.

How did he come through it?

Fine, Posey said. I told him he can beat me up as much ashe wants, as long as we get outs.

Said Lincecum: I know Im a little bit wild, effectivelywild at times. Ill throw balls in the dirt and he did a good job picking them.I know it can be rough catching me. Im not a paint-on-the-edge guy. Ill getyou to chase.

"He was out there with an open mind because of what wevebeen through. It was, 'Lets reconnect and get back to it.'"

Their connection has been questioned, if only because Giantsmanager Bruce Bochy curiously had Hector Sanchez or Eli Whiteside catch each ofLincecums seven previous starts. The right-hander was 2-8 with a 6.19 ERA,mostly working with Posey. He was 2-3 with a 5.26 ERA in the seven-start runwith Sanchez and Whiteside. No appreciable difference, really.

Bochy continued to insist that he got away from having Poseycatch Lincecum, in part, because of the physical toll it exacts to receive the two-time Cy Young Award winner.

Its true: Sanchez took a beating almost every time hecaught Lincecum. And Posey definitely had a couple appendages to ice down after theGiants 4-1 victory over the New York Mets.

It was a good hurt.

Buster and I had a good connection there and a goodunderstanding of what we wanted to do with the hitters, Lincecum said. Westuck with that.

Bochy might not stick with the battery, though. It wasobvious why Posey had to catch Lincecum on Tuesday: It wasnt a day game aftera night game, the Giants were playing short without Angel Pagan or PabloSandoval to occupy the No. 5 spot and they needed all the offense they couldmuster to break a five-game losing streak.

(The Giants are back in first place by their lonesome, bythe way, after the Dodgers lost to the Diamondbacks.)
RELATED: MLB standings

The next time, Sunday in Denver, Bochy might think more about preserving hisAll-Star catcher, who needs to be paced to avoid an overly cranky left ankle.

Hell catch him sometimes, said Bochy, who lauded Poseysgame-calling and ball-blocking skills. It depends on how he feels. I thoughtwe needed Buster out there and he did a great job. Its a situation when Busterneeds a break, someone else will catch (Lincecum).

What did Bochy see out of Lincecum, who threw his thirdquality start out of four?

I saw what we usually see, the manager said. He pitchedlike the Timmy that we know. He attacked the zone with all his pitches. Hewas under control, throwing quality strikes. He had great poise with the basesloaded, facing a quality hitter. Its hard to throw a better pitch than that.

That would be the 1-2 curveball that Lincecum spun to freezepinch hitter David Wright with the bases loaded in the seventh inning, endinghis night. As the sellout crowd met the moment with playoff-level intensity, itmight have been the most important pitch that Lincecum has thrown all season.

The crowd gave me an added edge there when they rose up to theirfeet and were loud as hell, Lincecum said. I knew I kind of wanted to go toit. Its one of those freeze pitches and I only threw a handful of them. It wasprobably my best one.

Is the whole Posey-Lincecum thing overblown? Possibly. But it was also significant to see them work so well together again. As the Giants go down the stretch and the big games become bigger games, and the bigger games become must-win games, the Giants won't be able to keep Posey on the catch three-of-five schedule. The crowds will be louder, the moments will become bigger -- and Lincecum will have to throw some more bases-loaded, 1-2 curveballs with conviction.

It was a good one," Posey said. "It was down in the zone. But what sets it up are the quality pitches he made inside.

And Posey was there to call them.

I believe in all my catchers that they can catch me,Lincecum said. And Buster, I think he handles me just fine. Obviously, right?

Angel Pagans left hand was wrapped and he said he learnedhis lesson after injuring himself while taking a frustration hack with a batMonday night.

Pagan had X-rays that did not reveal a fracture. Hes likelyto miss another game or two.

I made good contact, Pagan said, smiling. If you know theconsequences, you don't do it. I learned my lesson."

(Yes, its his left hand that he injured. Bochy originallyreported it was Pagans right hand.)

Giants Notes: Blach shows resiliency; Another option in center?


Giants Notes: Blach shows resiliency; Another option in center?

CHICAGO — John Lackey's night started with a leadoff homer. Ty Blach's night started with a 13-pitch battle. Neither one is a positive for a pitcher, but Blach didn't view it that way. He actually appreciated Ben Zobrist stretching him out.

"It's good to have a battle like that and get you locked in," Blach said. "It gets you focused and you'll be like, I can execute and get guys out. It's good. It's a good battle."

There, in a nutshell, is so much of what Bruce Bochy loves about his young left-hander. The Giants have found Blach's arm and resolve to be remarkably resilient. He wasn't bothered when they moved him to the bullpen and he didn't get too high when they moved him back to the rotation. He is the same after seven shutout innings or three poor ones. Bochy smiled when asked about the Zobrist at-bat, which ended in a strikeout looking. 

"How 'bout that?" the manager said. "He won that at-bat. It seems like the advantage goes to the hitter, seeing all those pitches. He kept his focus and got a called strikeout and here he is pitching in the eighth inning."

After needing 13 pitches for one out, Blach got the next 23 on 81 pitches. Bochy thought Blach tired a bit in the eighth, but the deep effort allowed Bochy to mix and match in the bullpen, and ultimately he found the right mix. Hunter Strickland and Mark Melancon closed it out and got Blach his second win.

--- From last night, Joe Panik's huge night helped give Blach an early lead. With the help of Ron Wotus and his shift charts, he also put on a show defensively.

--- We're trying something new right after the final pitch: Here are five quick takeaways from the 6-4 win.

--- The options game sent Kelby Tomlinson back to Triple-A on Wednesday when the Giants activated Melancon, but his latest stint in Sacramento comes with a twist. Tomlinson started his third consecutive game in center field on Monday. The Giants are getting a bit more serious about their longtime plan to make Tomlinson a super-utility player. 

“Tommy is a valuable guy in the majors and if we can give him some experience in the outfield, it gives you more flexibility and versatility,” manager Bruce Bochy said. 

This is not Tomlinson’s first foray into the outfield. He did work there in the offseason after the 2015 season and he has played 25 big league innings in left field the last two seasons. This is Tomlinson’s first real experience with center field, and while in the past he has said that the transition isn’t as easy as some might think, Bochy is confident Tomlinson can figure it out. He certainly has the speed to be a semi-regular in the outfield, and the Giants aren’t exactly brimming with quality center field options behind Denard Span, who is dealing with his second injury of the season. 

“It’s a little different now,” Bochy said when asked about Tomlinson’s past experiences in the outfield. “He’s in Sacramento doing it, and knowing there’s a possibility we could need help in the outfield.”

If the switch doesn’t come in handy this season, it could in 2018. Bochy compared Tomlinson’s infield-outfield ability to Eduardo Nuñez, who has found regular playing time in left but is a free agent after the year. 

--- Hunter Pence did some light running in the outfield before Monday’s game. Bochy said Pence is still about a week away from being an option.

--- Bochy has said it a few times now when asked about the standings, so it’s officially a new motto for a team that got off to a brutal start: “We’ve put ourselves in a great situation for a great story.”

--- They're starting to get a little grumpy around here with their team hovering around .500. Perhaps the Cubs thought they could fool a few on the way out of Wrigley.

Panik takes step in right direction, helps Giants build lead Cubs can't overcome

Panik takes step in right direction, helps Giants build lead Cubs can't overcome

CHICAGO — The Giants gave Mark Melancon $62 million to make sure they don’t have an NLDS repeat, and the closer did shut the Cubs down in the ninth Monday. There’s a far cheaper solution to those big problems, however: Score so much that a late-inning implosion doesn’t matter. 

The Giants gave up four in the eighth inning in their first meeting with the Cubs since that infamous Game 4 meltdown, but thanks in large part to Joe Panik, the cushion was large enough. Panik, back atop the leadoff spot with Denard Span aching, reached base four times and had three extra-base hits. He came into the game with a .172 average over his previous 14 games, but he took John Lackey deep to lead off the night. 

“The last couple of days in St. Louis I started feeling better,” Panik said. “I started feeling a little better and today it clicked. It’s definitely a step in the right direction. I felt good. The swing path felt good. It’s going back to staying on the ball and not trying to do too much.”

With the wind rushing out toward the bleachers, there was no need to try and muscle the ball. The Giants hit a season-high three homers and added four doubles. Brandon Belt and Justin Ruggiano also went deep as the lead was stretched to 6-0. After Ruggiano’s blast, a familiar feeling set in.

Ty Blach had been brilliant through seven, but Javier Baez took him deep in the eighth. Derek Law entered and gave up a two-run shot to Ben Zobrist. Just as in Game 4, Bochy started wearing out the track to the mound. Steven Okert faced one batter and plunked him as Hunter Strickland and Melancon started to heat up. Strickland got the call, and after falling behind in the count, he got Willson Contreras to ground into a double play, stranding a pair. 

“No lead is safe on a night like this,” Bochy said of the wind. “It’s not surprising when the other team answers.”

It probably wasn’t surprising to the players on the field. It did, however, bring back bad memories.

“You’re human,” Panik said. “You’re human, but with the bullpen we’ve got, we have confidence that they’ll shut it down.”

As the Cubs rallied in the eighth and again the ninth, a half-dozen key plays from earlier loomed larger. Panik was sent from second by Phil Nevin on a hard single to left and he cut the corner at third perfectly, scoring the second run of the night. Blach helped kill one potential Cubs rally by cutting behind Albert Almora in the sixth. The center fielder had dropped a one-out bloop into right and he made a hard turn. Blach followed him to first, fielded a throw from Ruggiano, and threw Almora out at second, eliminating a baserunner ahead of Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo.

“We work on that all the time,” said Blach, a former minor league Gold Glove winner. “I saw him rounding pretty hard so I tried to sneak in. We were able to catch a guy sleeping.”

Blach was being modest. It is not a play most pitchers make, not in a 5-0 game. It was simply one of many defensive highlights for the Giants, who did just about everything right until the eighth. When the bullpen started to wobble, the lead was large enough that it didn’t matter. 

The win was the eighth in 10 games for a team that’s threatening to get back into the postseason chase. For all that’s gone wrong, the Giants are just 3 1/2 games behind these Cubs. They’ll try to get another one back Tuesday in a reminder of what could have been: Johnny Cueto against Jon Lester.

Earlier this season, Panik would have hit seventh or eighth against Lester, but Bochy said he’ll get another night atop the lineup. The manager said Panik earned it with his first career night with three extra base hits. After the first leadoff homer of his career — and probably life — Panik doubled twice. That helped build the lead, but it led to some ribbing hours later. As Panik addressed reporters, Matt Cain snuck up behind the scrum.

“Ask him why he didn’t try for third on his second double,” Cain whispered.