San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy had no illusions that his club would be on a consistent tear throughout a full season, and he expected it to have to battle through a rough stretch or two.
He’s hoping the Giants can get through this bout of adversity sooner rather than later.
San Francisco looks to avoid a sixth straight defeat as Tim Lincecum takes the mound trying to end his struggles against slugger Paul Goldschmidt and the host Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday night.
Lincecum’s victory over the New York Mets on June 8 pushed the Giants to a season-best 21 games over .500 and a 9 1/2-game lead in the NL West. San Francisco (43-29) has lost eight of nine since, though, after falling 7-6 to the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday.
Bochy isn’t exactly concerned, but he knows his club needs to respond quickly.
”I don’t care how good you are, you’re gonna have your ups and downs,” Bochy said. ”You’re gonna have your hiccups, your bumps in the road and you know it. What’s important is how you deal with it.”
The Giants scored four runs in the final three innings Wednesday before their comeback fell short.
”These guys didn’t lay down,” Bochy said. "It’s all about being resilient and this is a resilient club. We’ve gone through some tough losses."
Lincecum (5-4, 4.81 ERA) has gone through the same but has pitched well over his last two starts. He allowed three runs in six innings of the 6-4 win over the Mets before giving up two runs and three hits in six innings of the Giants’ 7-4 loss to Colorado last Friday.
"They call it ‘the grind’ for a reason," Lincecum told the team’s official website. "I’m learning how to take better care of myself. I’m learning myself better, maybe, as a pitcher. That’s where I’m trying to evolve as well, trying to grasp what’s going on out there."
What Lincecum hasn’t grasped is how to consistently retire Goldschmidt, who is 13 for 24 with seven home runs in their matchups. Goldschmidt hit a two-run homer off the right-hander April 3 and a three-run shot April 9.
”I just have to start leaning on a little bit more of my strength and not necessarily (Goldschmidt’s) weaknesses,” Lincecum said after the most recent outing. ”I know he’s got some holes here and there, but I have to mix up my pitch counts and my pitch routines.”
Lincecum allowed 11 runs in 10 innings over those two starts and is 1-7 with a 6.79 ERA in his last 10 against the Diamondbacks.
Josh Collmenter got the save for Arizona in its last meeting with Lincecum, but he hasn’t appeared out of the bullpen since and will get the start in this contest.
Collmenter (4-4, 4.05) is coming off a rough outing after giving up six runs and eight hits through six innings of a 6-4 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday. He’s allowed at least four runs in each of his last three starts.
The right-hander is 4-1 with a 3.98 ERA in four starts and 11 relief appearances against the Giants. Buster Posey is 6 for 9 with two homers and a double off Collmenter.
Last-place Arizona (31-45) enters this series after dropping three of four to Milwaukee, including Thursday’s 4-1 loss.
”There wasn’t a lot of opportunities out there for us and when we had the opportunities we didn’t do anything with them," manager Kirk Gibson said.
Goldschmidt is hitting .345 with five homers and 14 RBIs over his last 16 games.