Giants win another series, but can they afford to stand pat?

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Giants win another series, but can they afford to stand pat?

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO Giants manager Bruce Bochy calledWednesdays lineup his bomb squad.

It was disarming, all right. The Giants were Posey-less,Panda-less and Tim Lincecum barely stood a chance in a 6-3 loss to the SanDiego Padres at AT&T Park.

Even if Lincecum had authored a third consecutive qualitystart, something he hasnt done all season, he still wouldve lost toJason Marquis and his sinker, which knocked through a weakened lineup likeduckpins.

The Giants still took another series its the thirdconsecutive time they lost in a bid to complete a three-game sweep and theymaintain their spot atop the N.L. West. So we are a full throaty scream short of a widespread panic.

But the Los Angeles Dodgers arrive on Friday, and theyvegot Hanley Ramirez along with more room on their corporate credit card to add Ryan Dempster-plus.Meanwhile, the Giants will wait in what appears to be desperate hope that PabloSandoval can avoid the disabled list. The bomb squad is losing pieces, and GM BrianSabean is setting up expectations that the Giants wont aggressively seek adding newones, either.

I asked Lincecum: Are the players expecting a counter tothe Dodgers acquisition of Lord Hanley?

Maybe a little bit, to see what we're going to do, Lincecum said. Thatwas our M.O. in 2010, making the moves that made the difference in our season.So we're probably wondering what we're going to do here.

But I feel like we have all the right pieces. Obviously if Pablo comesback healthy and fast, maybe we won't need to make a move. So we're hoping forthat. But whatever changes are made, that'll be up to them.

The Giants moves in 2010 were strategic (bullpen additions Javier Lopezand Ramon Ramirez) and dumpster dives (Pat Burrell and Cody Ross). Some of the namesavailable at this deadline are much gaudier, but would require the approval ofownership.

The Brewers Aramis Ramirez, for example, is backloaded in more waysthan one. The third basemans right-handed pull power would be a perfect fitfor AT&T Park, but hes owed 10 million next year and a whopping 16million in 2014, when he could be more fit for DH duty.

I asked a few other Giants whether they are waiting for reinforcementsand they all gave the right answers: Sure, well take whatever help we can get.But we like what we have, too.

If we get somebody, we get somebody, Angel Pagan told me. Right now.Were focused on winning games. Our chemistry is pretty solid. If its up tous, we have to protect our lead. Were playing great baseball right now.

Pagan saw plenty of Ramirez in the N.L. East. What kind of boost are theDodgers getting?

He can do anything at the plate, Pagan said. Hes a right-handed batwho adds versatility to any lineup. Hes a solid player.

The one and only Ryan Theriot said he didnt immediately seenews of the Ramirez trade because he was shopping for hunting clothes online.

But he called Ramirez a wonderful player whos done greatthings in this game. Hell help them out. Hanley definitely gives them a bigpush. Well see what happens in the end.

I think Pablos OK, though. Well get him back in there.Hes a bat in the lineup you have to have. Weve been a team thats offensivelysneaky and weve done some really good things this year. To have Pablo back inthere is definitely important.

In the end, nothing is more important to the Giants thantheir pitching staff. And theyll need to carry momentum through Lincecumsstarts in the second half. He stopped both his personal surge as well as theteams six-game home winning streak while allowing five runs in 4 13 inningsWednesday.

So its time for the requisite whats wrong with Timmyportion of the proceedings:

I just needed to be a little more aggressive, saidLincecum, who struck out five of the first nine batters but struggled withdiminished velocity the second time through the order. My fastball just gotaway from me and I wasnt hitting the spots I needed.

Lincecum didnt say that Pagan should have caught thebases-loaded, two-run double that barely fell in the fourth. But he did call ita little bloop that was kind of the difference in the game.

Pagan made an incredible catch the previous night. Thistime, he came a few inches short on his diving attempt. So it goes for Lincecumthis season.

The other pattern is his difficulty to maintain stuff afterbeing taxed early. He only threw 89 mph when he missed over the middle on a 3-1pitch that Jesus Guzman tagged for a two-run homer in the fifth.

You come out of this and its a loss and all, but itsnot a step backwards or anything, said Lincecum, whose 5.88 ERA is the worstamong all qualified N.L. starters. I just messed up on three pitches.

Whether its 92 or 89 I gotta trust it. I felt I could have done better in thatsituation, instead of leaving it up to a bases-loaded bloop.

Does he get upset that everyone wants to rehash his potentialissues after every bad start?

You guys are doing what youve got to do, he said. Imdoing the same thing. Im going to the chalkboard after every start.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy decided to look at the positives,even though Lincecums loss followed a familiar script.

Sure, its been a pattern this year, Bochy said. Early,that was one of the issues. He was working hard, working deep counts. Mix inwalks, hit a batter, thatll catch up with you. But I look more at how hestarted the game. It looked like he was going to be sharp. As the game went on,he was struggling to get the ball where he wanted.

Itll be up to Matt Cain, Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong toexecute when the Dodgers arrive on Friday. The Giants arent likely to haveSandoval for the series, but itll be a major shock if Bochy doesnt playBuster Posey in all three games.

Asked if Posey would catch all three, he said, This series,hell be catching.

Theres plenty of wiggle room in that statement. Theresplenty of time for more movement in the N.L. West standings, too.

Risk and danger are part of the deal for bomb squads.

What they're saying: 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame class

What they're saying: 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame class

The National Baseball Hall of Fame inducted Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez Wednesday. Here's what they and their peers are saying.

https://twitter.com/baseballhall/status/821855144681897988


Still on outside, Bonds, Clemens have become invaluable to Hall

Still on outside, Bonds, Clemens have become invaluable to Hall

The Baseball Hall of Fame becomes yesterday’s news Friday, as it always does. Three months of buildup, one day to announce the names, one day to castigate the voters for their willfully negligent slights, and then nine months of hibernation.

So much for the concept of “joining the immortals.”

But at least Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez never have to go through this annual pageant of nonsense again.

Barry Bonds does, though, and so does Roger Clemens, and to a lesser extent, so does Curt Schilling. They are the new litmus strips for the Hall, and they will more than replace Raines (voter ignorance division) and Bagwell (presumption of guilt with evidence division) for self-involved debate.

And in that adjusted role from doomed outsiders to serious candidates, Bonds and Clemens – and to a lesser extent again, Schilling – have become invaluable to the Hall, and their eventual election and induction will reduce the Hall’s ability to inflame passions outside the seamhead community.

On a day when Bagwell and Raines finally cleared the 75 percent threshold and Bonds and Clemens moved from 45 percent to 53.8 and 54.1 percent, respectively, the Hall of Fame Debating And Chowder Society saw the end times for its power as a multi-month debate-churner.

The blatherers are dead, long live the blatherers.

An entire mini-industry of Hall watchers has been spawned, in part by the now-feted Ryan Thibodaux and his exit polling but also by the debates about what the Hall should be and who should get to decide it. It has made days like Wednesday event viewing when it hadn’t been for years. For that, the Hall owes Bonds and Clemens a debt that the powers inside Major League Baseball wishes it didn’t have to pay. But the day they are inducted is the day that PEDs die as a debating point. The answer will have been provided, and there will be no more need for discussion.

Worse yet, the BBWAA’S new voter transparency rules may unfortunately impact our pal Thibodaux, whose seminal work in this understudied area of social science undermined ballot secrecy. In short, if everyone has to fess up, the desperate need to know early returns may dry up.

Oh, there will always be the day of post mortem-ization, as those who didn’t clear the threshold are subject to a few rounds of the popular parlor game, “Who Got Snubbed, And The Tedious And Half-Informed Reasons Why.”

For instance, the big debating point from today’s results will not be about Raines and Guerrero getting in, but what happened to the Bonds and Clemens votes. People have already postulated that a lot of the jump in their respective votes can be directly linked to Bud Selig’s election from the Veterans Committee. Voters who had previously ridden the Hall-as-temple argument suddenly lost their raison d’etre and realized that the PED problem was an industry matter rather than a greedy players’ matter.

In short, they saw Selig getting in as tacit approval that the PED issue was no longer a moral one in baseball but a cynical one, a way to blame labor for management’s culpability. That is an irony whose existence Selig will almost surely deny, but it’s there anyway, and it represents one more non-glacial change in a system that has been nearly immovable for most of its existence.

The next change, of course, may be removing the vote from the BBWAA and turning it over to a more malleable panel of “experts” who may not skew as young and values-neutral as the BBWAA of the future seems to be heading. That course may be hastened if/when Bonds and Clemens are elected, because halls of fame in their more traditional role have been more about rewarding friends and punishing enemies, and a large and shifting electorate makes that harder to accomplish.

The argument against such a course, though, is that the current system of three months of fevered public debate about the same old stuff works for the Hall’s sense of its importance. I mean, MLB Network and its fetish for shrill argument only has so much reach.

By Friday, though, all of this will revert to its typically inert state. Bonds, Clemens (ATALE Schilling), PEDs, morality, practicality, secrecy, old voter/young voter – all of it will fade back into insignificance.

And in a year or two or maybe three, Bonds and Clemens will wipe it all out by being included in the one club that we once knew would never tolerate their presence, and the Hall Of Fame’s Golden Age Of Shrieking Argument will end.

In a weird and largely unpleasant way, it will be missed.