San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy has shuffled his
starting rotation so his best pitcher could potentially take the
ball in the season finale if the NL West title is on the line.
The Giants are hoping to lock up the division before then.
Two-time reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum has been
pushed up a day and will try to help first-place San Francisco inch
closer to its first playoff berth in seven years Wednesday against
the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Giants (89-69) moved two games ahead of San Diego atop the
division with a 4-2 win over the Diamondbacks on Thursday, coupled
with the Padres’ 5-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs.
“This game puts us in first place two games up. If we win
(Wednesday) we’re even closer to winning the division,” winning
pitcher Jonathan Sanchez said.
The Giants, winners of four of five, conclude the season with a
three-game home series against San Diego – currently loser of three
in a row – beginning Friday that could decide the division
By moving Lincecum (15-10, 3.51 ERA) up one day – still on
normal rest – the ace will be available either on short rest for
Sunday’s finale or for a one-game playoff with San Diego on Monday
if the division race comes down to that.
San Francisco, which hasn’t won the West since 2003, could wrap
up the division before the Padres even come to town if it wins its
next two over Arizona and San Diego loses its final two to the
“We’re close,” said third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who hit a key
two-out double in the sixth inning Tuesday. “Five more games. We
have to play hard. Don’t get comfortable.”
Lincecum was dominant in Colorado on Friday, allowing one run
and two hits with nine strikeouts in eight innings of a 2-1
victory. The right-hander, who leads the NL with 220 strikeouts,
improved to 4-1 with a 2.08 ERA in five outings this month after
recording a 7.82 ERA while losing all five August starts.
“He’s an incredible talent,” Bochy said. “When he’s on top of
his game, he’s going to be tough. That’s why he’s won two Cy
Youngs. He’s back to what he is and pitching like we’ve seen the
last couple of years.”
Lincecum wasn’t on top of his game against the Diamondbacks on
Aug. 27, yielding four runs, five hits and four walks in six
innings of a 6-0 home loss, but less than two weeks later in
Arizona, he allowed three runs while striking out 11 in 6 2-3
innings of a 6-3 win.
Lincecum is 6-2 with a 2.71 ERA in 13 career starts against the
Diamondbacks, keeping some of their top hitters in check. Stephen
Drew is batting .167 in 36 at-bats, Chris Young is hitting .139 in
36 at-bats and Miguel Montero is 5 for 29 off the San Francisco
Arizona (64-93) has lost 11 of 16 against the Giants this year,
but scheduled starter Ian Kennedy (9-9, 3.76) has pitched well in
the season series, going 1-1 with a 2.20 ERA in four starts.
Kennedy has a 0.75 ERA in four outings this month, but a lack of
support from either his lineup or bullpen has left him without a
decision. The right-hander opened the month against the Giants on
Sept. 6, and allowed two hits in eight scoreless innings of a 2-0,
Kennedy is 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA in nine starts since losing to
Washington on Aug. 4, but is coming off an inefficient outing. He
allowed one run and three hits against Colorado on Thursday, but
was lifted after throwing 84 pitches in four innings. The
Diamondbacks went on to win 10-9.