Recap: Lincecum Battles Through Rough Start, Sandoval Hits Fifth HR in Giants’ 6-2 Win

It wasn’t a smooth start for Tim Lincecum, but he was able to battle through and allow just two runs through six innings as the San Francisco Giants beat the Minnesota Twins 6-2 on Friday night.

After returning from a short Colorado road trip, the Giants welcomed the Twins for the first game of this interleague series, as Lincecum faced Minnesota’s Kyle Gibson at AT&T Park. Lincecum struggled with his control in his fifth quality start, walking a season-high six batters and throwing two wild pitches. It was the fifth time in his career that Lincecum allowed six or more walks, with his career high topping out at seven.

While Lincecum’s two runs came from Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer, the bottom of the order was tough on him. Five of his six walks were given to Jason Kubel, Eduardo Escobar, and Aaron Hicks. Still, the starter was able to get the outs when it counted. He kept the Twins hitless with runners in scoring position, in spite of Minnesota’s seven opportunities while Lincecum was on the mound.

The Giants’ offense succeeded where the Twins’ did not, leaving just one runner on base throughout the entire game. Lincecum enjoyed run support early, as Pablo Sandoval smoked a three-run home run out into the arcade in the first inning. Sandoval has been able to improve his numbers over the past few weeks, hitting .339 (20-for-59) in his last 16 games.

Brandon Hicks also got in on the home run game tonight, knocking out his ninth blast of the season. San Francisco had two other one-run innings that were sparked by triples from Angel Pagan and Brandon Crawford. Pagan went 2-for-4 on Friday night, hitting both a double and triple, and his night was a strong bounce back after logging just one hit in his last 13 at bats.

The bullpen was able to keep the Giants’ lead in the final three innings of the game, as Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez and Jean Machi held the Twins scoreless.

It took two pitches for Machi to induce a double play to end the eighth inning, and the right hander continued to show his dominance on Friday night, lowering his ERA to a league-leading 0.37. The bullpen will have to continue their dominance after losing Santiago Casilla for several weeks, and Machi has led the charge for San Francisco relievers.

The early runs, and continued support, allowed San Francisco to jump to a four game lead over the Colorado Rockies in the division race.

Tomorrow the Giants will take on the Twins for Game 2 of this weekend interleague series. Minnesota flipped their weekend starters during tonight’s game, so Saturday’s night game will consist of right handers Ryan Vogelsong (2-2, 3.62) and Samuel Deduno (5-3, 3.38). Vogelsong will look to log his sixth straight start of six or more innings, and is coming off a strong start of seven shutout innings against the Miami Marlins last week. Deduno completed his second straight quality start, allowing two runs on two hits an two walks over six innings against the Seattle Mariners.

First pitch at 7:05pm.