Lincecum struggles to find positives in loss to Marlins
The Marlins have won nine consecutive games at AT&T Park since 2010. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
SAN FRANCISCO – No matter who plays for the Marlins, what city they call home or what color scheme they’re wearing, that team from South Florida just can’t lose at AT&T Park.
And the Giants keep losing players in the process, too.
Andres Torres became the latest Giant to visit the X-ray room after slamming his right knee into the dirt while getting thrown out trying to stretch a double in the sixth inning. The Giants came up short on the scoreboard as well, as the bullpen coughed up three runs in a 6-3 loss Friday night.
[RELATED: Torres leaves game in sixth, receives X-rays]
The Marlins have won nine consecutive games at AT&T Park since 2010 – the second longest winning streak by an opponent in the ballpark’s history. (The Dodgers won 11 consecutive here in 2006-07.)
The Marlins might have baseball’s worst record, but they’re 10-8 in June. And the Giants’ bullpen is prone to getting hit by anyone these days.
The Giants’ biggest personnel loss against the Marlins, of course, came in May, 2011. That’s when Buster Posey got plowed over at home plate by Scott Cousins and sustained a season-ending ankle injury.
Torres’ injury didn’t look anywhere near as significant, but he was in obvious discomfort as trainers checked him. He went for X-rays after the game to make sure he didn’t sustain a fractured patella.
Starting pitching report
49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick hit 87 mph with his ceremonial first pitch, and he’d already taken Alex Smith’s job. Maybe Tim Lincecum wanted to make sure Kaepernick wouldn’t come for his rotation spot, too.
Lincecum had another solid start to continue what’s been a solid June in which he owns a 2.92 ERA in four outings. He couldn’t quite figure out Logan Morrison, who hit a solo home run and an RBI triple off him, but otherwise looked much smoother and more under control in his delivery while striking out eight.
The Marlins scored three runs but had just six baserunners – four hits, one walk and a hit batter – in Lincecum’s seven innings.
Lincecum was at his best against Giancarlo Stanton, who wowed the fans with a series of batting-practice home runs that landed at the base of the Coke bottle. Lincecum blew a 93 mph fastball past Stanton to strike him out in the first inning, then baffled him with a changeup to strike him out in the third.
Lincecum punctuated four of his first five innings with strikeouts.
But he couldn’t escape trouble in the sixth as the Marlins scored a pair of runs to draw even. Ed Lucas singled, Morrison tripled off the bricks in right field and Marcell Ozuna followed with a two-out bouncer up the middle. Lincecum stuck out his foot and managed to kick it to keep it on the infield, but it didn’t take a kind enough bounce to a middle infielder. Morrison scored the tying run on the infield hit.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy lent his support to Jeremy Affeldt prior to the game, saying he’d keep the struggling left-hander in a setup role. Left unspoken: Bochy doesn’t have another alternative.
The bullpen struggled in a three-run eighth inning. Jake Dunning allowed a one-out single and hit a batter, and after Javier Lopez struck out Morrison, right-hander Jean Machi had an outing to forget. He gave up singles to all three batters he faced, with Ozuna coming up with his second two-out, go-ahead hit in as many nights.
At the plate
The Giants managed three runs against Ricky Nolasco, which was a banquet of sorts. It equaled the number of runs Nolasco had allowed while going 4-0 in four previous starts at AT&T Park.
Hunter Pence and Hector Sanchez singled to start the second inning, and after a wild pitch moved them both into scoring position, Nick Noonan grounded into a fielder’s choice to get the Giants on the board. The Giants scored again in the third when Gregor Blanco led off with a single, stole second base and scored on Marco Scutaro’s double.
Both innings represented missed chances, though. The middle of the order was unable to advance Scutaro from second base. They weren’t able to take advantage in the fourth after Torres’ one-out double hopped into the stands, either.
They kept putting traffic on the bases and caught a break in the fifth, after Buster Posey reached on a fielder’s choice. Pence followed with a two-out blooper to shallow center field that hit off Marcell Ozuna’s glove. Posey was running on contact and scored from first base without a play, and Pence received generous credit for an RBI double from the official scorer.
Posey’s run made it 3-1, but the Giants needed more.
Immediately after the Marlins tied it in the sixth, Torres led off the bottom of the inning with a laser shot off the right field bricks that bounced away from Stanton. But Ozuna raced after it and fired an impressive throw to third base that arrived in plenty of time. Torres appeared to lose his balance a bit and his knee hit the dirt hard as he started his headfirst slide.
Lincecum, of all people, hit a two-out triple two batters later – his second career triple and his first since 2008, when he hit a line drive at Wrigley Field that short-hopped past future teammate Mark DeRosa. But the Marlins went to the bullpen and Gregor Blanco struck out to end the inning.
Normally, Nolasco’s exit would be a prayer answered. It didn’t work out that way for the Giants against the Marlins bullpen.
The Giants got the tying run to the plate in the ninth, but Posey grounded out to end it.
Shortstop Joaquin Arias tried to throw out Adeiny Hechevarria after scooping up a slow roller up the middle in the eighth, but his throw was late and wide, and Posey couldn’t scoop it. The error allowed the Marlins’ final run to score.
The Giants announced 41,490 paid, including a few luminaries: in addition to Kaepernick, who threw what has to be among the hardest ceremonial first pitches in baseball history, famed director Francis Ford Coppola was in the stands wearing a white Panama hat.
The Giants and Marlins continue their four-game series Saturday at AT&T Park. Barry Zito (4-5, 4.67 ERA ) will pitch with a heavy heart following the death Wednesday of his father, Joe. He’ll oppose right-hander Jacob Turner (1-0, 2.16). First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. PDT.