Lincecum pitching for playoffs, Kershaw for Cy

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Lincecum pitching for playoffs, Kershaw for Cy

Sept. 20, 2011

URBAN ARCHIVE
GIANTS PAGE GIANTS VIDEO

Mychael Urban
CSNBayArea.com

That it's Giants-Dodgers in late September, with at least one of the teams still clinging to playoff hopes, makes it compelling enough.That it's Tim Lincecum-Clayton Kershaw, each with something of serious consequence at stake, makes it marquee.Kershaw, a clear frontrunner for the National League Cy Young Award, will be gunning for his 20th win of the year Tuesday night as his Dodgers host the Giants in the opener of a three-game series at Chavez Ravine. The last time the Dodgers had a 20-game winner? Rewind all the way to 1990 when Ramon Martinez turned the trick.What's more, Kershaw will be trying to become the first Dodgers hurler to go 5-0 against the Giants in a season since 1946, when both teams were battling for supremacy in the game's golden age in Gotham.Or did you forget the great Vic Lombardi?

Then there's this, yet another sign of Kershaw's dominance: He's 10-0 with a 1.46 ERA over his past 13 starts at home.He's also beaten Lincecum three times this year, but don't lay that on Lincecum, whose ERA in those games is 0.82. Trouble is, Kershaw's ERA in those games is 0.39.Talk about a clash of the titans. That's a total of three earned runs over 55 innings. Despite the Cy Young implications, Tuesday's game is even more meaningful for Lincecum because there's a team element to it. The Dodgers aren't going anywhere but home after their last game of the regular season, and the Giants still have a shot at going to the playoffs. That -- not snapping his losing streak to Kershaw -- is all that Lincecum really cares about.He almost certainly also cares about erasing the memory of two sub-standard starts that came in the midst of the slide that put the Giants in such a precarious postseason position.A two-time Cy Young winner and 2010 postseason MVP as the recipient of the little-known Babe Ruth Award, Lincecum prides himself -- and has proven himself -- as a pitcher who comes up big when his club needs him the most, and on consecutive starts at home, Aug. 29 vs. the Cubs and Sept. 3 vs. the Diammonbacks, he gave up five earned runs each time, going five innings against Chicago and six against the Snakes.Think that doesn't rankle him still? He's sure pitched like it ever since, allowing two runs over 15 innings in gems against the Dodgers and Padres.Beat Kershaw? Yeah, that's be nice. But that's a secondary concern. First and foremost among the Freak's goals Tuesday night is a far more familiar refrain: "Beat L.A."

Giants spring training Day 42: Blach still in the fifth starter mix

Giants spring training Day 42: Blach still in the fifth starter mix

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Ty Blach is the young one in the race to be the fifth starter, but on Sunday he sounded like a veteran. Asked if he has gotten a hint one way or the other about his opening day role, Blach smiled.

“I’m just taking it day-by-day and trying to get better,” Blach said. “I’m enjoying the process and having fun.”

Smooth. 

Those days are adding up to a nice spring for Blach, the left-hander trying to unseat Matt Cain. While Bruce Bochy didn’t shed any additional light on the current lean, team officials hinted Sunday that this is not as open-and-shut as it seems. Matt Cain, who will start Tuesday, looked like a lock to be the fifth starter a week ago, but the Giants are considering all options because they have an off day during the first week and two more shortly thereafter. 

“We’ve had discussions every day,” Bochy said. “We’ve got some tough calls.”

The Giants are expected to announce their official rotation when they return home for the Bay Bridge Series. Whether he’s starting, long-relieving, or pitching in a completely new role, Blach has certainly done all he can to make sure he’s in the big leagues on April 2. He gave up two runs over six innings Sunday, walking one and striking out one while giving up seven hits. Blach has allowed 10 runs in 20 1/3 innings this spring, but four of those came when he was ambushed coming out of the bullpen one day.

“Wherever I’ll be, I know I’ll be in a good spot,” Blach said. “I’m just looking forward to getting the season rolling.

After pitching out of the bullpen most of the spring, Blach got his pitch count up to 85 on Sunday. 

“We’ve gotten him stretched out,” Bochy said. “That’s a solid, solid job. We’ve got guys stretched out where you want them. We’ve got some flexibility. We’ll see as we get close here which way we’ll go.”

POSITION BATTLES: The Giants will carry a backup for Denard Span, and for about a month it looked like Gorkys Hernandez would be that guy. But Hernandez has slumped so badly this spring that he went over the minor league facility Sunday to get a ton of extra at-bats, and Justin Ruggiano has emerged, reaching base in nine of his last 16 plate appearances. The plan a few days back was for Ruggiano to go to Sacramento and get 50 or so at-bats to see where he’s at, but this is another race that could change in the coming week. 

Cory Gearrin has done his part to hold off any charging relievers, throwing two sharp innings while going back-to-back for the first time this spring. 

FAMILIAR FACES: A rough day for a couple of longtime Giants. Ehire Adrianza and Gregor Blanco both have oblique injuries, hurting their odds of breaking with the Twins and Diamondbacks, respectively. Elsewhere, David Hernandez showed that he made a smart decision asking for his release. He was signed by the Braves. 

AROUND CAMP: Hunter Pence really does do all he can to make every single teammate feel welcome in the clubhouse. He spent some time with young right-hander Roberto Gomez on Sunday morning, learning a few Spanish phrases. When the players went out to warm up, Pence threw with Jae-Gyun Hwang. These are small gestures, but for the new guys, they matter. 

BARRY’S BACK: We all knew Barry Bonds would step into the cage at some point, and on a quiet Sunday morning, there he was. Bonds, 52, took about five or six easy hacks before crushing one out to deep right. He’s still got it. The other day, reporters asked Bonds if he could suit up in the WBC if asked. He said he can absolutely still hit, but he would need to DH and he would need a day or two off before games. Being a big league hitter is not easy, even if he always made it look that way.

 

Bonds dusts off swing, cracks home run during BP in Giants' camp

Bonds dusts off swing, cracks home run during BP in Giants' camp

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants knew Barry Bonds would step back into the box at some point. It happened Sunday, with Bonds taking a few cracks at BP pitches from Gary Davenport.

Bonds warmed up with a couple of lighter swings and then blasted a homer to deep right. That was enough, as the 52-year-old walked away with a big smile on his face. 

Bonds is in camp as a special instructor, and he still picks his spots to show off his legendary swing. When he was the Marlins' hitting coach last season, he beat slugger Giancarlo Stanton in an impromptu home run derby.