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.