Lincecum, Godfrey kick off Bay Bridge series

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Lincecum, Godfrey kick off Bay Bridge series

June 17, 2011

GIANTS (39-30) vs.
A's (30-40)

Coverage begins at 7 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet

OAKLAND (AP) -- Tim Lincecum hasn't pitched like a two-time NL Cy Young Award winner this month. Facing the Oakland Athletics again could help him get back on track.

Lincecum and the San Francisco Giants visit their geographic rivals Friday night when they meet the Athletics in the opener of the latest chapter of the Bay Bridge Series.

The Giants swept a three-game set from the A's last month in San Francisco, highlighted by a dominant outing from Lincecum (5-5, 3.41 ERA), who tossed a three-hitter and fanned six en route to the 3-0 win May 21.

"I'd say it's got to be right up there with his best performance," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said after Lincecum's 133-pitch outing.

KILLION: Melvin brings new twist to Bay Bridge Series

Nicknamed "The Freak," Lincecum won his next game but has been quite hittable after that, posting a 9.39 ERA while going 0-1 in three starts.

The right-hander couldn't pinpoint a reason for his poor results.

"I don't feel like it's fatigue, I don't feel like I'm getting tired. I don't feel like anything is broken. I just feel like it's a matter of just getting back to being me," Lincecum said after lasting a season-low four innings at home, where he was reached for career high-tying seven runs, seven hits and four walks in a 10-2 loss to Cincinnati on Saturday.

Lincecum could quickly shake off his struggles given that he's 5-0 with a 1.17 ERA in six starts against the A's, and 2-0 with a 0.56 ERA at the O.co Coliseum.

However, he didn't pitch last season in Oakland, where San Francisco (39-30) was held to one run while losing all three games in May.

RATTO: Bay Area rooting interest? A's sweep Giants

Rookie Graham Godfrey (0-0, 10.38) will make his second start for the Athletics. The right-hander, who was recalled last Friday to replace the injured Brett Anderson, surrendered five runs and nine hits in 4 1-3 innings of Oakland's 7-5 win over the Chicago White Sox.

"In the middle of my outing, I was attacking hitters and getting ahead. That's what made me more successful," Godfrey said.

The victory was the first for interim manager Bob Melvin, who replaced the fired Bob Geren on June 9. Melvin is a Bay Area native, played collegiately at California and with the Giants from 1986-88.

San Francisco failed to complete a three-game sweep of Arizona after a 3-2 loss in 10 innings Thursday. Pat Burrell's sacrifice fly in the ninth tied the score 2-all, but Santiago Casilla served up a walkoff homer to Justin Upton.

The loss reduced the Giants' lead in the NL West to 1 12 games over the Diamondbacks.

"It is good to come in and get the series," Bochy said. "We were real close to getting this last one."

Last-place Oakland (30-40) comes in having won two straight and is 3-4 under Melvin following an 8-4 victory over Kansas City on Thursday. Rookie second baseman Jemile Weeks - brother of Milwaukee's Rickie Weeks - had two hits, drove in three and is batting .344 (11 for 32) since being recalled June 7.

The A's batted .183 against the Giants last month, and .238 under Geren. The team is hitting .245 since Melvin took over.

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

SAN FRANCISCO -- At some point over the next four days, Madison Bumgarner will pick up a baseball, stand a few feet across from a member of the training staff, and simply play catch. It'll be a huge step in Bumgarner's rehab, and should it go well, a boost to the psyche of a struggling team.

In the meantime, another lefty is making sure the Giants don't suffer too much without their ace, as improbable as that first seemed.

Ty Blach took a shutout into the eighth Saturday night and in true Bumgarner fashion, he added a pair of hits and an RBI. The Giants beat the Braves 6-3. They've won Blach's past three starts, and even with a 10-run outing in Cincinnati mixed in, he has a 3.71 ERA since taking the spot left open by a dirt bike accident.

"Because of what happened he's in the rotation," manager Bruce Bochy said, "And he's taking full advantage."

Blach has shown that long term, he might be a big part of this rotation. It's been years since the Giants locked a young, cost-controlled starter in, and Blach has backed up his big cameo last year. It's possible -- likely even -- that at some point the Giants will need to trade a veteran, perhaps Johnny Cueto, for young bats. Blach provides needed insurance. 

Short term, he's providing a huge boost to a team that doesn't have much going right. Blach has thrown at least seven innings in his past four starts. He has allowed just eight earned runs in four starts since the one in Cincinnati, throwing 28 2/3 innings. 

"I feel good," Blach said. "I've always been a starter, so it's been a pretty easy transition to make. I feel comfortable."

The Giants are comfortable behind him, as evidenced by a half-dozen strong defensive plays Saturday. 

"He's been consistent and he works quickly," first baseman Brandon Belt said. "He's just a great guy to play behind."

Blach even joined in at the plate. He had an RBI single in his first at-bat -- his first big league hit off Not Clayton Kershaw -- and later roped another single. Blach even showed off his wheels, busting it from first to third on Denard Span's ball to the corner before Phil Nevin held him up. 

"I worked into some good counts and I was able to get fastballs," Blach said of his night at the plate. "It's definitely a big confidence booster when your spot comes up and you're able to drive in runs."

The night was straight out of Bumgarner's playbook, and it was needed. The Giants had dropped five of six, but Blach was backed by homers from Nick Hundley and Brandon Belt. It got a little hairy late, but the bullpen held on, clinching Blach's third win of the season. He looks poised for many more, and Bochy is happy to keep running him out there.

"I'm not surprised by what he's doing," the manager said.

 

Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid

Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — This spot in the rotation is the one reserved for the stopper, the pitcher who takes a game by the throat when his team really needs it. 

Ty Blach took the mound Saturday for a team that had lost five of six, and just as Madison Bumgarner often has, Blach ended the skid. The young lefty was dominant into the eighth and the bats finally provided enough support. The Giants won 6-3, tying this weekend series with the Braves.

Here are five things to know from a night we were reminded that Emilio Bonifacio is in the big leagues … 

--- Blach pitched 7 2/3 innings. He has thrown at least seven innings in his last four starts, and five of seven starts overall. Jeff Samardzija (6) is the only Giants starter who has gone that deep more often. Blach is tied with Johnny Cueto for second-most seven-inning starts on staff, and Cueto has made three additional starts. 

--- Blach’s RBI single in the fourth was -- at the time -- the fourth hit of his career, and the first against a pitcher not named Clayton Kershaw. The ball had an exit velocity of 101 mph. Blach tried to score from first on Denard Span’s double, but Phil Nevin held him. Still, the way he was moving, it makes you wonder if Samardzija really is Bruce Bochy’s best pitcher-pinch-running option. In the seventh, Blach picked up a second single. 

--- Blach’s only bad start has been the one he made in Cincinnati, where the Giants played like a Double-A team. If you take that one out, Blach has a 2.21 ERA since taking over Bumgarner’s rotation spot. 

--- Even though he gave up just two earned in 7 2/3, Blach’s home ERA actually went up. It’s 1.75, which ranks seventh in the National League. The sellout crowd gave Blach a standing ovation when he was pulled in the eighth. 

--- Blach had a season-high five strikeouts. When he got Nick Markakis to end the first, Blach ended a streak of 37 left-handers faced without a strikeout. He later struck out another lefty, Matt Adams. The new Braves first baseman came up as the tying run in the eighth but Derek Law got him to ground out to first. 

--- Bonus sixth “thing to know” ... on Blach of course: His first name is Tyson, not Tyler. It’s Tyson Michael Blach.