It was not a happy homecoming for Tim Lincecum. But before we talk about another non-quality start for the Freak, we’ll start with missed chances on offense and poor decisions on defense. That’s where this game was swung.
The Giants put runners in scoring position is each of the first four innings, but they failed to deliver the big knockout punch on Kevin Millwood.
Still, a couple of clutch two-out hits by Ryan Theriot and Melky Cabrera helped the Giants take a 4-2 lead. But those other missed chances would come back to haunt them.
With the game tied 4-4 in the sixth, Lincecum was pulled after giving up a leadoff single to Jesus Montero. Jeremy Affeldt came in relief and gave up a single to Michael Saunders.
After Justin Smoak flied to center for the first out, Dustin Ackley hit a chopper to the right of second base that Brandon Crawford gloved. Crawford attempted to tag out Saunders heading to second, but wasn’t able to get him. The hesitation cost Crawford time to throw out the hustling Ackley.
So instead of second and third and two outs (or even first and third; Crawford had a better chance of forcing out Saunders at second by throwing back to Ryan Theriot covering), the bases were loaded with one out.
Franklin Gutierrez hit a hard grounder to third that Joaquin Arias had to go to his knees to field. But Arias looked first at second base before throwing to first … too late and the Mariners plated a run with help of two balls that didn’t leave the infield.
Brendan Ryan’s two-run single made it a three-run sixth.
And after tagging Millwood for four runs on nine hits in five innings, the Giants went hitless against the Mariners’ bullpen.
As for Lincecum, it was yet another hot-and-cold outing. After giving up a pair of solo home runs to Casper Wells and Montero in the first inning, Lincecum retired 10 of the next 11 batters he faced with John Jaso’s second-inning walk the only batter to reach.
But then Lincecum battled with mechanics out of the stretch after giving up a leadoff single in the fifth. He walked Jaso on four pitches (none close). After falling behind 2-0 to Ryan, Ryan bunted the runners to second and third.
Ichiro Suzuki then hit a chopper up the middle that Lincecum probably thinks that he should have gloved. Instead, it went for an infield single when Theriot was able keep the ball from going into center.
Theriot’s play save a run, but only momentarily. After getting ahead of Wells 1-2, Lincecum tried to strike him out with a low changeup. Instead he bounced well in front of the plate, and the ball kicked off Posey for a wild pitch, scoring Jaso.
Lincecum’s five runs allowed in five-plus innings allowed his ERA to go up again to 6.19. His next start is slated for Friday at Oakland.
Madison Bumgarner pitches for the Giants against Felix Hernandez as the Giants try to win their first series ever at Safeco Field. Game time is 1:10 p.m.
The Giants accomplished something that they’ve never done in four previous trips to Seattle — win the opening game of the three-game series.
Ryan Vogelsong pitched into the eighth inning, giving up two runs and Buster Posey and Melky Cabrera homered to send the Mariners to their sixth straight loss at home.
The blasts by Posey and Cabrera gave the Giants eight homers in their past four games.
“I think what really got us going was (Madison) Bumgarner’s homer,” Posey quipped.
It was an odd and bit uneven night for Vogelsong.
Early in the game, the Mariners were hitting the ball hard … but directly at Giants defenders.
The Mariners only managed two hits through the first seven innings against Vogelsong, with a lot of loud outs early on.
“What you like about him, he keeps his composure out there,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He continues to grind it out and make pitches.”
But then Vogey settled into a groove. In the end, it was a dunker and a seeing-eye single that got Vogelsong out of the game with two on and nobody out.
Javier Lopez came in and gave up a single that did not score anyone. The Mariners did eventually plate two runs on groundouts, the second one should have been a double-play ball that Sandoval bobbled.
Then Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla shut the door for the victory.
Posey got the Giants on the board with a solo home run in the second inning. Cabrera added a two-run shot in the eighth which provided to be pivotal with the Mariners scored twice in the bottom of the eighth.
And Brandon Belt continued his current hot streak, going 2 for 4 with a double.
Tim Lincecum returns to the mound — one day after his 28th birthday and in his first start in his hometown of Seattle. Hopefully, those two factors will turn things around for the Freak against Kevin Millwood. First pitch in 7:10 p.m. Saturday.
MoreSplashHits doesn’t know whose in charge of this interleague scheduling, but we like it.
As they do every three years, the Giants are facing the Mariners in interleague play. And for the fourth consecutive time, the Giants-Mariners series will take place in Seattle. The Mariners haven’t been to AT&T Park since 2000. Since then the Giants have played series at Safeco in 2001, 2006 and 2009 and now 20012.
Since Safeco Field is the closest big-league park to MoreSplashHits, we are all for that.
Although the Giants may not be so excited about that. They’ve gone 2-7 in their nine games at Safeco.
But, of course, that was the pre-World Series champion Giants. It will be a different story for the post-World Series champion Giants. We hope.
MoreSplashHits hasn’t seen a Giants win in Seattle since their 15-11 win in 1999 in one of the last games played in the Kingdome.
We’ve got plans to be there Sunday.
Weekend pitching matchups:
FRIDAY: Ryan Vogelsong (5-2) vs. Justin Vargas (7-5), 7:10 p.m.
The Mariners have lost five games in a row since their combined no-hitter against the Dodgers last Friday. They got swept at home by the Padres. Enough said. Vargas has allowed at least three runs in his last seven starts. Vogelsong enters on a five-game winning streak, and the Giants have won in his last seven starts. He also not allowed more than 3 runs in any of those starts.
SATURDAY: Tim Lincecum (2-7) vs. Kevin Millwood (3-5), 7:10 p.m.
Millwood is scheduled to make his first start since pitching six perfect innings against the Dodgers, then leaving with a groin strain. He had his next start pushed back two days. The Giants haven’t won a Lincecum start since April 28. But this is The Freak’s first start in Seattle. Lincecum grew up in nearby Renton and pitched for the University of Washington. And he can expect some Northwest weather. Weekend forecast calls highs in the 60s with a 30 percent chance of showers. The roof figures to be closed.
SUNDAY: Madison Bumgarner (8-4) vs. Felix Hernandez (4-5), 1:10 p.m.
King Felix is in a mini-funk (compared to Lincecum). He’s given up at least four runs and not pitched past the sixth inning in any of his last three starts (all losses). Bumgarner is coming off his best start of the season, giving up one earned run on six this in 7 2/3 innings and striking out 12.