Bullpen Brilliant, Offense Rallies, Giants Take Game Two

Despite not having his best stuff, Tim Lincecum kept the Giants in the game and allowed them to come back as San Francisco took game two of interleague play from the Cleveland Indians 5-3.

Lincecum wasn’t fooling anyone on Saturday, as Cleveland got to him early. Michael Bourn led off the game with a double and came around to score on a single by Jason Kipnis to give the Indians a quick 1-0 lead. They added another run – albeit an unearned one – in the third when Nick Swisher led off with a double, moved to third on a passed ball, and came home on a Kipnis ground out.

Cleveland extended its lead in the top of the fifth. Once again, Bourn got it started by leading off with a single before Swisher doubled him home. Lincecum (1-1) recorded the next two outs, but then walked Michael Brantley and Asdrubal Cabrera to load the bases and end his outing. The right hander allowed a season-high nine hits in four-and-two-thirds innings, but actually lowered his ERA to 5.96 by only giving up the two earned runs (three overall). He also walked two and struck out three with his 98 pitches – 58 strikes.

On the other side of the ball, Cleveland starter Zach McAllister looked almost perfect for the first four innings. After allowing a lead-off double to Angel Pagan in the bottom of the first, McAllister retired the next 12 Giants he faced, striking out six of them. He looked to be cruising to a 4-0 record – even collecting his first Major League hit in the bottom of the second.

But then came the bottom of the fifth. Michael Morse led off with a single and, after Pablo Sandoval popped out, Brandon Crawford singled to right, and Brandon Hicks walked to load the bases. Pinch-hitter Gregor Blanco finally put the Giants on the board with a single to bring in Morse, and Pagan brought in Crawford with a sacrifice fly to center. With two outs, Blanco stole second, which turned out to be crucial as Hunter Pence singled, bringing in both runners and giving the Giants a 4-3 lead.

Blanco went up there looking for something to hit, and he delivered.

“I’m just kind of realizing that I always need to be ready for a hit, no matter what the situation is. And working the count. So, I think it’s good that I just went over there, relaxed myself, and tried to do my best.”

San Francisco added an insurance run on a solo shot off the bat of Buster Posey to lead off the bottom of the sixth. Prior to the home run, Posey was just three for his last 40 and had been hitless in his last 24 at-bats against right-handers. Manager Bruce Bochy hopes this a sign of good things to come for his catcher.

“I was happy for Buster. You go through these tough streaks. It’s not easy. You’re working, you’re battling to get through it, and it’s all you can do…Sometimes something like that, or even a blooper, can kind of get the confidence back and get you rolling.”

After losing five-of-six and scoring just ten runs over that span, the Giants have scored 22 runs on 27 hits and are 3-0.

The San Francisco bullpen continued to dominate at AT&T Park, as Juan Gutierrez (1-1), Jean Machi, Jeremy Affeldt, and Sergio Romo (sixth save) combined to throw four-and-a-third innings of no-hit ball. They now have a team-ERA of 0.45, the lowest home bullpen ERA in the Majors. Perhaps nobody is more appreciative of the job they’ve done than Lincecum.

“They’ve been doing a great job of picking me in games that I haven’t done so well this year, and they did it again today. I just get to sit up here and watch it happen. It’s fun….Gutierrez did a great job, and Machi. They’ve been doing a great job this year at picking us all up…It sucks to not be able to go deep into games, but we had the right guys in at the right time.”

San Francisco will go for the sweep on Sunday as they send right-hander Ryan Vogelsong (0-1, 7.71) to the mound to face righty Danny Salazar (0-3, 7.85).

Notes: On Saturday, the Giants had another sellout crowd of 42,088. This marks their 257th consecutive regular-season sellout, tying the National League record (Phillies, July 7, 2009 – August 5, 2012).