What a strange night. You had a matchup of 2 young starting pitchers with a ton of promise. Tim Lincecum vs Clay Billingsley. You have rain forecast but the thought is that they’d get the game in. Torre decides to not stat Billingsley & Bochy decides to follow that pattern.
The game starts and It’s Merkin Valdez versus Hong-Chih Kuo. Valdez throws two perfect innings striking out 4. Jack Taschner goes 1 scoreless inning. So it looks like a bullpen game which typically means one team will blow it open in an inning versus the one reliever that simply doesn’t have it that night. That never happened. The rain lessened so Bochy goes to Lincecum to start the 4th inning. He gives up a run and the Dodgers go to Billingsley to start the 5th. The rain is now coming down harder. Watching on TV I’m thinking, “great, Billingsley holds us here, it starts to pour and we’re 0-3” as 3 more outs and it’s an official game. Once the game is official I believe the umpires are a lot more likely to call it due to rain. With 1 out Randy Winn singles and moves to 3rd on a Molina single bringing up Aaron Rowlan. It’s now pouring and Rowlan hits a fly ball, definitely deep enough to score Winn and tie the game. Turns out that Ethier drops the ball but it made no difference in the game at all. The game would have been tied either way so at least if it rains now, it won’t be an “L”.
The game resumes a little over an hour later. BIllingsley is removed from the game but Lincecum goes back out there. He ends up throwing 4 innings for his first win of the year and at times made some phenomenal pitches. He struck out Russell Martin to end the 5th on a breaking ball. In the 7th, he struck Martin again on a perfectly placed fastball on the outside corner. Martin didn’t like the call but it was a grat pitch and with 2 strikes on you, you better be swinging at that pitch.
In the Giants half of the 6th inning Lincecum laces a single up the middle with 1 out. Eugenio Velez singles to put runners on 1st & 2nd. Rich Aurilia walks to load the bases bringing up Randy Winn. All off season we’ve been hearing about playing the game right. Moving guys over, scoring a runner from 3rd with less than 2 outs type stuff. Winn hits a sacrifice fly to score Lincecum and Giants take a 2-1 lead.
Bochy goes to Tyler Walker to start the 8th and he quickly got the first two outs bringing up Andrew Jones who doubled. The Giants walked Loney intentionally and then called on Brian Wilson to face Matt Kemp who grounded back to Wilson.
Wilson gets lead off hitter Blake Dewitt to ground to Rich Aurilia in the hole between 1st & 2nd, Aurilia has trouble with the ball and the tying run is on base to start the 9th. Its the Giants & Dodgers, nothing is routine or easy in the games it seems. Juan Pierre is called on to hit and asked to bunt. He bunts it right at Wilson who turns a fires a seed to Brian Bocock at 2B for a force play on the lead runner. Great play, very risky but a great play. As is often the case, you’ve got to get through the hottest hitter on the other team which brings up Rafael Furcal. You had to figure Pierre would be running to get into scoring position. He didn’t go early in the count. Then with 2 strikes on Furcal, Pierre is going. Furcal gets called out looking and Molina throws out Furcal on a play that wasn’t even that close. Molina’s throw short hopped Bocock who made a nice play to dig it out and tag Pierre for out #3 and the ballgame. The inability to get the bunt down kills yet another MLB rally. Who knows what would have happened, had Pierre gotten the bunt down, but after watching enough last at bat Dodger wins over the years I was perfectly OK with how it turned out.
What conclusions can one make at this point in the season? Not many, but one thing appears to be playing out as expected. When Cain & Lincecum are scheduled to pitch, the Giants should have a decent chance to win those games. They are the one part of this team that excites a fan about the present and certainly about the future.
Now it’s an off day today and 3 games against the Brewers over the weekend. No Cain, No Lincecum in that series so we’ll see how it goes. My gut is we’ll need to score more than 3 runs to win each of those games and right now it’s tough to see this team really doing that consistently. Granted the Dodgers have very good pitching but we scored, 0, 2 & 2 runs so far. Averaging 1.33 runs per game isn’t gonna get you a lot of wins in this league or any league for that matter. The good news is so far we’re only giving up 3 runs per game which will keep you in many games at this level.