Lincecum Mediocre in Final Tune-Up
The guy who's been penciled in to start game two of the NLDS may not have the stronghold on that spot after his last two outings. The great success that Tim Lincecum was having throughout most of the second half of the season has sort of disappeared over his last two starts, as he was rocked by Arizona in San Francisco in the final home series of the regular season, then got lit up by the Padres at Petco Park on Sunday. Timmy actually didn't throw too badly in his latest start, but he did make a few mistakes that Padres' hitters did not miss. Lincecum allowed just 7 base-runners in 6 innings of work, but he gave up three long-balls. It wasn't as bad as his last outing in San Francisco, but it likely wasn't exactly how 'The Freak' wanted to go into the postseason. Bruce Bochy did make one thing clear before the game regarding Timmy and the playoffs, stating that Hector Sanchez will catch the right-hander throughout. That means Buster Posey will see some time at first base and Brandon Belt will shift out to left on those nights, which we've been seeing more of the last two weeks. The rotation still hasn't been set in stone yet by Bochy, but it's widely believed to go Cain-Lincecum-Bumgarner-Vogelsong with Zito waiting in the wings.
Although the Giants got down early to San Diego, and went into the 8th inning trailing by 3 runs, they put up a solid comeback effort in the final two frames to take the series Sunday. Brandon Belt got the big hit in the 8th, a broken bat knock to right that drove in Francisco Peguero, but it was Hunter Pence and Xavier Nady who came up with the two big hits in the 9th to decide the ballgame. Nady hit a solo shot of Houston Street to tie the game at 5, then Hunter Pence, who's been an RBI machine lately, collected his 103rd and 104th RBI's of the season with a two-run blast just a couple batters later (his 2nd in as many days). For Nady, it was his first big fly since joining the Giants as he's quietly put up some respectable numbers in limited opportunity. After the big fly, Nady's now hitting .283 with 1 HR and 7 RBI in 41 at-bats with the Orange and Black. His OBP is also a rock-solid .379 and he's making a strong case to be more than just a platoon mate for Blanco in left. Bochy has already said he's not going to do much of any changing to the lineup when the playoffs start, so it'll be Blanco in left vs. right-handers (except for Lincecum starts), but if he starts slowly, we could see a lot more of Nady... And if your going to be wagering on the upcoming MLB postseason, visit players rewards card!
Now the Giants head into LA for their final tune-up before they meet the Reds in round one, and the two things I'll be watching the closest will be how these last starts go for Vogelsong and Zito. It's hard to imagine a situation where Vogelsong is ousted from the playoff rotation, especially after he's turned it back on in his last few outings, but the Giants record in Zito starts has been better than any other starter in the 2nd half. It should be interesting to see how these two finish up. I'm also curious to see how much Buster Posey will be used in this final series. As of now, he's got the the NL batting crown in his back pocket, so it wouldn't surprise me to see him catch Vogey and take the rest of the series off.