Lincecum and Zito in, Bumgarner out of playoff rotation


Lincecum and Zito in, Bumgarner out of playoff rotation

ST. LOUIS Itll be up to Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito tobring the NLCS back to AT&T Park.

Following the Giants rain-delayed 3-1 loss to the St. LouisCardinals in Game 3 Wednesday night, manager Bruce Bochy made it official: Lincecum would takethe mound Thursday in Game 4 against Adam Wainwright the two-time Cy YoungAward winners first postseason start since he won the World Series clincher atTexas two years ago.

And Zito, a little further removed from his 2002 AL Cy Young season, is the choice over Madison Bumgarner to pitch inGame 5. He's likely to oppose Lance Lynn.

Bochy said he delayed the announcement in case he neededLincecum to pitch in relief in case the weather or extra innings necessitatedit Wednesday night.

Hes the guy we want out there and hes been throwing theball well, Bochy said. Weve got to bounce back, and its great to have a guylike Timmy all set to go for us.

The Lincecum decision was expected. The Giants werent goingto start both their left-handers, Zito and Bumgarner, against a club thatposted the best average in the NL against southpaws.

But the decision to dump Bumgarner from the rotation was amild surprise, if only because Bochy said in the interview room a day earlierthat he wasnt as concerned about the 23-year-olds struggles as everyone mightbe led to believe.

Ultimately, Bochy and pitching coach Dave Righetti decidedBumgarner was worn down.

We feel its time to give Madison a little break, saidBochy, adding that Bumgarner would be available in the bullpen. Hes a youngkid, 23. Hes been pitching a lot of innings and we feel at this point werebetter off giving him a break and going with Z, whos done a nice job for us.

Bumgarner insisted he wasnt injured.

If I was, Id lie to you, he said. But Im really not.

Bumgarner is 0-2 with an 11.25 ERA in two postseason starts.He ended the regular season with a 5.89 ERA in his last seven outings, anddidnt complete seven innings once. He has thrown 216 13 innings, counting theplayoffs, after throwing 204 23 last year and working all the way to his WorldSeries victory on Oct. 31 the year before that

Its whats best for the team right now, Bumgarner said. Im not throwingthe ball well at all right now. Theyve got to do whats best to give us achance to win.

The Giants have won the last 12 times Zito has taken themound, although the left-hander didnt make it out of the third inning and wasplagued by walks in his Game 4 start at Cincinnati. That night, Lincecumswooped in and saved the Giants with 4 13 solid, strike-filled relief innings.

Lincecum is 1-0 with a 1.08 ERA in three postseason reliefappearances spanning 8 13 innings. Hes allowed just three hits, walked oneand struck out nine. It was a huge improvement from a miserable regular seasonin which he needed a second-half rally just to shave down his ERA to 5.18.

Id say his stuffs had more life on it, said catcherBuster Posey, who very possibly might be at first base for Game 4. Hes beenlocating better. Everything, really, has been better. We have a lot ofconfidence when hes on the mound.

Said Matt Cain, the hard-luck loser in Game 3: We feel wevegot a great chance with Timmy.

Bochy said he hasnt decided on a catcher for either of thenext two games. But Brandon Belts two ground outs to second base and hiscalled strikeout will inspire thoughts of putting Hector Sanchez Lincecum andZitos more frequent batterymate behind the plate and moving Posey to firstbase.

Posey, asked if he expected to start at catcher in Game 4, said: "Yes, that's what I expect. I don't know if that's the case."

Bochy will consider other lineup changes, perhaps movingdown Hunter Pence in the order.

The Giants trail 2-1 in the best-of-seven series. They need towin at least one of two at Busch Stadium, or else there will be no morebaseball at Third and King this year.

We are in their house, center fielder Angel Pagan said. Youdont want to be behind. But we have been in this position before.

Dusty chooses son's graduation over Nationals game against Padres


Dusty chooses son's graduation over Nationals game against Padres

WASHINGTON — Dusty Baker will miss the Washington Nationals weekend series against the San Diego Padres to attend his son Darren’s graduation.

Baker said he will rejoin Washington when it begins a three-game series in San Francisco on Monday, near Baker’s offseason home. Bench coach Chris Speier will assume managerial duties against the Padres.

Baker’s son Darren is graduating from Jesuit High School in Carmichael, California. He’s committed to play college baseball at Cal.

As a 3-year-old bat boy, Darren was rescued from a potential home plate collision by J.T. Snow in Game 5 of the 2002 World Series between Baker’s Giants and the Angels.

Giants notes: 'Disappointing' road trip; Nuñez hopes to return Friday

Giants notes: 'Disappointing' road trip; Nuñez hopes to return Friday

CHICAGO — As they packed up at AT&T Park eight days ago, the Giants talked of taking their momentum on the road. It sounded pie-in-the-sky given the way they had played in April and on the previous trip, but when they took the first two in St. Louis, players started to believe they had finally turned the corner. 

And then came a Sunday loss, and three of four at Wrigley Field. There was no happy flight Thursday. The Giants lost 5-1, again looking flat against a less-than-elite pitcher, and ended up with a 3-4 trip. They’ll finish the first two months of the season without a winning road trip. They're 9-19 away from AT&T Park. 

“It’s disappointing,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Once you win the first one here, you’re hoping you get greedy and take the series, but we didn’t. That’s disappointing.”

The Giants entered the road trip with a 6.62 starters’ ERA on the road, but pitching wasn’t the issue. Sure there were too many meatballs — most of the 10 Cubs homers in this series came on pitches left right over the fat part of the plate — but the starters did their job. The lineup couldn’t keep up. The Giants had just five hits Thursday and finished the trip with 24 runs in seven games. They started the trip nine games out in the West and finished 11 back of the Rockies, their largest deficit since 2013. 

“You come here and take the first game with our (top) guys throwing after that and you’re hoping for a better result,” Jeff Samardzija said. “We started out good and that St. Louis series puts you in a good spot to salvage the trip. We’ll go home now with six solid games on our home turf and they’re six big games for us.”

The Braves and Nationals come to town. The Giants will see Jaime Garcia on Friday, followed by Mike Foltynewicz and R.A. Dickey. 

--- Samardzija’s run without a walk ended at 154 batters when Ian Happ drew a free pass in the seventh. The streak was the best of Samardzija’s career. 

--- Eduardo Nuñez said he got treatment on a tight hamstring throughout the game and he’ll go in early Friday to continue treatment. He hopes to start Friday. 

--- Christian Arroyo was hitless in three at-bats, dropping his average to .191. Before the game, Bochy talked at length about Arroyo’s recent struggles and the plan with him going forward. 

--- If you missed it earlier, I took a tour of the visiting bullpen here. After going in there, I talked to some more pitchers about what they don’t like. It seems to mostly be the fact that you’re separated from the game. One said some of the relievers who pitched Monday had no idea it was raining because they had been getting loose inside for several innings. Seems like there’s a pretty easy fix here: The Cubs can just turn part of that Under Armour wall into a chain-link fence, or have some sort of window that opens up to the outside but doesn’t interfere with outfielders. Maybe next year …