Giants

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.

Giants notes: Bruce Bochy praises fight despite loss to A's

Giants notes: Bruce Bochy praises fight despite loss to A's

OAKLAND — After off days, Bruce Bochy occasionally admits that he spent his free hours watching more baseball. He’s a fan of the game, whether he’s managing or not. On Saturday night, he was able to appreciate a game played well, even if it didn’t come with a win. 

Bochy mentioned repeatedly that he appreciated how hard the Giants fought despite the fact that they lost 4-3 in extra innings. They appeared to be done about an hour earlier when Alen Hanson struck out, but the third strike was wild and Hanson reached with two outs in the ninth. He scored the tying run on Hunter Pence’s double into the bullpen that came with some chair controversy. 

“That’s what speed does,” Bochy said. “Hanson was flying and scored easily.”

The Giants did a lot of good things. The bullpen was dominant after Madison Bumgarner lost his command. Brandon Belt hit a homer. Pence had his first three-hit game of the season. Brandon Crawford made two incredible catches on pop-ups. It didn’t lead to a win.

“That was a great ballgame,” Bochy said. “You hate to say that when you lose, but these guys fought hard.”

—- Belt was hitless in 18 at-bats when he took Trevor Cahill deep. He snapped a streak of 63 at-bats without a homer.

—- The Giants have started switching their shifts this season, with Crawford and the third baseman swapping positions in certain counts so that Crawford can patrol an entire side of the infield. It paid off in the sixth. Matt Olson hit a pop-up toward the bullpen and Crawford took off on a dead sprint.

He snagged the ball about 150 feet from where he started. According to Statcast, Crawford reached a sprint speed of 28.8 feet per second, his fastest sprint of the season on any play.

In the 11th, Crawford went a lot way into right-center for another eye-popping grab. That one saved Hanson, who had missed two earlier pop-ups. 

—- Steven Duggar struck out in nearly a third of his at-bats in the minors this season, and we’re starting to see some of that up here. Duggar struck out twice in the series opener and twice Saturday. He has at least one strikeout in every game he has played since a promotion, and double-digit strikeouts in five of his eight starts. 

—- Evan Longoria (fractured finger) was hitless in four at-bats in his second rehab game. He’s 2-for-7 in two games and could play nine innings Sunday in a bid to speed things up. 

—- It’s not quite Scoreboard Watching Season, but… you’re always watching the team atop your division. The Dodgers lost 4-2 to the Brewers, who got two shutout innings from Josh Hader. The controversial reliever’s first road appearance will come Thursday in San Francisco, by the way. 

 

Madison Bumgarner loses feel for strike zone in 'weird situation'

Madison Bumgarner loses feel for strike zone in 'weird situation'

OAKLAND — For the first time since April 16, 2015, Madison Bumgarner did not complete five innings. He did not get hurt. He did not really get rocked, either. He just lost the strike zone during a strange sequence that even he couldn’t really explain after having a couple hours to think about it. 

Bumgarner walked five of the final seven batters he faced, including four of five in the fifth inning, and Bruce Bochy had no choice but to come out and get his ace. The Giants would go on to lose 4-3 in the 11th inning, but they probably didn’t even expect to be around that long given how the fifth unfolded. 

Bumgarner had walked two batters with the bases loaded in all his starts prior to this one. He walked back-to-back A’s with the bases loaded in the fifth. Sam Dyson got him out of the jam, but enough damage had been done that the Giants weren’t able to put this one away in nine innings, despite allowing just two hits to that point. 

Asked if he felt as off as he looked, Bumgarner paused. 

“Yes and no, I guess,” he said. “The first four innings I was cruising, pretty much. In the fifth I just couldn’t find the zone. I was trying to throw strikes. I wasn’t trying to pitch to corners… It was a weird situation to just kind of lose your feel for a minute.”

Bumgarner is maniacal about his mechanics, and he said he already had ruled out any issue there. His velocity was fine, so there was little reason for bigger-picture concern. It was just an odd stretch.

“That’s unlike Bum,” Bochy said. “But it happens occasionally.”

A night like this had never happened to Bumgarner before. He walked a career-high six batters. Bumgarner wasn’t particularly sharp from the start, missing his spots repeatedly even on pitches that were called strikes. Several others leaked from corners to the heart of the plate, but he escaped disaster until the fifth. 

A walk of Matt Olson and Matt Chapman's bloop single to right put the A’s in business. Bumgarner loaded the bases by walking Chad Pinder. The bullpen didn’t stir, but a few moments later there was action. Bumgarner went 3-2 on Josh Phegley and just missed with a fastball inside. Dyson started to warm up. Bumgarner then went 3-2 on Marcus Semien and missed with a cutter outside that never scared the plate. Dyson took over from there. 

“I just lost the feel there there in the fifth,” Bumgarner said. “I just couldn’t throw strikes. That’s it.”

That meant he couldn’t stick around as long as he normally does. Bumgarner had completed five innings in a franchise-record 89 consecutive starts. That was the longest active streak in the big leagues. He reacted harshly a few weeks back when a reporter mentioned records. This time, he admitted this particular run meant something, if only because of what it represents. 

“The whole idea is going deep into games,” he said.

For once, Bumgarner wasn’t able to do so.