Lincecum lasts four innings in improved outing


Lincecum lasts four innings in improved outing

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Tim Lincecum has never had an ERA under4.00 in spring training, and after two starts in 2012, it looked like he was onhis way to another rough Cactus League.While his spring stats seem to have no correlation to his regular-seasonperformance, Lincecum entered Mondays start in Surprise against the KansasCity Royals with a 13.50 ERA in four innings.But after four sharp innings, in which his fastballroutinely hit 92 and his changeup led to many ugly Royal swings, the Giantsace looks like a regular-season Lincecum.

In the first inning, Lincecum left an 0-2 changeup high in the zone to EricHosmer, who drove it the other way for a loud foul ball. But he came back tostrike out the Royals young first baseman and complete a 1-2-3 opening frame.Lincecum sandwiched a strikeout around two groundouts for another 1-2-3inning in the second, then erased a one-out walk in the third with aninning-ending tailor made double play.The fourth inning tested the diminutive right-hander, as Jarrod Dyson led offby grounding a ball off Lincecums foot for an infield hit.Lincecum wasnt worried about the deflection, though.It wasnt hit hard enough, he said. Just caught the bottom of my cleat, thatwas it.Dyson kept the pressure on Lincecum, though, by stealing second base andadvancing to third on catcher Eli Whitesides throwing error. Dyson then scoredon Alcides Escobars groundout to shortstop. Lincecum looked like he might not make it through the fourth inning, as noGiants starter has done this spring, when he walked Hosmer, but he bounced backby picking off Hosmer and striking out Alex Gordon on a curveball.With a reputation for not being able to hold runners on,Lincecum said he has worked on being better in that aspect of the game.I just made myself more aware of it, he said. Its one thing to just givethe guy a little head nod over there. Sometimes you get in a rhythm and youkind of forget about him. But Im making more of a conscious effort to keeptrack of those guys and keep them out of scoring position.Lincecum ended up with just the unearned run in his four innings of work, whichincluded the lone infield hit, two walks and four strikeouts, one in eachframe. He wouldnt give himself a grade like he did in previous starts, but washappy with the results.A lot better than last outing, Lincecum said. The fact that I doubled myinnings helps and my arm still feels good, my body still feels good, and I stillkept my mechanics so Im just trying to take that as a positive and run withit.

As Dodgers celebrate, Bochy turns eyes to franchise-altering talent


As Dodgers celebrate, Bochy turns eyes to franchise-altering talent

LOS ANGELES — The Giants left their dugout quickly after Friday’s loss, escaping a celebration on the mound and a fireworks show in the sky. As Dodger Stadium shook with cheers, Bruce Bochy sat in the visiting clubhouse and smiled. He nodded at his laptop, which earlier had been used to pull up highlights of Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani. 

“He’s good,” Bochy said, laughing. “I absolutely would play him every day.”

Earlier in the week, when it became known that Bobby Evans and Jeremy Shelley were headed to Japan to scout Otani, Bochy said he couldn’t imagine a player pitching and then moving to the outfield between starts. What changed? 

Perhaps it was the tape Bochy saw. Otani throws 100 mph and hits homers with ease. Or perhaps it was the game he watched Friday. The Giants lost for the 94th time, with the big blow coming from a 22-year-old Dodgers star. Cody Bellinger’s blast was the difference in a 4-2 win, and the Giants don’t have a Bellinger, or anything close. Otani, 23, is a long shot for a team that very well could finish with the worst record in baseball. Still, he’s the kind of talent that could help pull the Giants closer in a hurry. He’s the  kind of talent they haven’t developed in years, and Bochy certainly sounded a bit wistful as he talked of the power Bellinger has put on display. 

“You call up a guy and he does that — that just doesn’t happen,” he said. “It’s a rare deal.”

The ninth inning of the Dodgers’ clincher reinforced that point for the Giants. They got a homer from Pablo Sandoval, but he’s playing only because Christian Arroyo — the Giants’ best prospect bet this year — is hurt. Ryder Jones, their 23-year-old prospect, struck out to end the night, dropping his average to .180. 

That set off a celebration for Bellinger and the Dodgers. They have won five straight NL West titles, with three of the last four clinched against the Giants. 

“Congrats to them,” Bochy said. “They’ve had a tremendous year across the board, and they’ve played great baseball. They brought some guys up that really did a great job for them. It’s well deserved.”

Bochy said it was not difficult to watch this one. The division has been wrapped up for months, with only a September slide keeping the Dodgers from clinching earlier. 

“We knew what we were facing here,” Bochy said. 

The Giants have two more against the Dodgers and then six more before a long winter. The Dodgers, on the other hand, will host an NLDS series here at Dodger Stadium. Both Bochy and starter Jeff Samardzija made the same observation, that the Dodgers will have a hard time cutting their deep roster down to 25 postseason players. 

That’s a nice problem to have. It’s a foreign one right now for the Giants, who have a serious talent gap and no clear solutions internally. It’s no wonder, then, that Bochy has all of a sudden become so intrigued by a wondrous talent overseas. 

Samardzija hits two milestones, makes 200-200 club in start vs Dodgers


Samardzija hits two milestones, makes 200-200 club in start vs Dodgers

LOS ANGELES — When the Giants gathered for spring training in February, team officials thought they had put together a rotation with four 200-inning arms. The starters didn’t come close to hitting that lofty goal, but one Giant got to the 200-inning mark Friday night. 

Jeff Samardzija hit 200 innings in the third inning Friday night at Dodger Stadium, reaching the standard for the fifth consecutive season. Samardzija also became the first Giant this year to reach 200 strikeouts when he struck out Curtis Granderson to open the second inning. The right-hander will be the only member of the rotation to reach either milestone, with Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto limited by injuries and Matt Moore having a down year. 

“These guys like Jeff that are able to handle that workload that he does and log 200 innings and have durability, that’s invaluable,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “You look at what it does for the ‘pen but also the quality of innings he gives you. His record should be different with how he has thrown the ball — he can’t control that. But the workload itself is important.”

Samardzija became the first Giants right-hander to strike out 200 in a season since Tim Lincecum (220) in 2011. Samardzija joined Carlos Martinez as the only National League pitchers who have thrown 200 innings this year, and Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, Robbie Ray, Martinez and Zack Greinke in the league’s 200-strikeout club.