Phillies-Giants (Game 34): Must-Know Stuff
Phillies (15-18) at San Francisco Giants (19-13)
RHP Kyle Kendrick (3-1, 2.43 ERA)
RHP Tim Lincecum (2-1, 4.41 ERA)
First pitch at 10:15
For last night’s Game 1 win against the reigning World Champions to be anything but a blip, the Phillies offense has to do something it’s struggled to all year: follow up.
Last night marked the 10th time they’ve dropped five or more runs.
Of the games that followed each of the nine prior, they plated a humble 3.13 runs per game – or, in other words, been what they’ve been.
That has to change tonight.
The cards stack well.
On the hill tonight is Tim Lincecum (2-1, 4.41 ERA), who’s somehow gotten better against the Phillies as his game has started to slip.
His 2.57 ERA and .200 opponent batting average in the last three years are markedly better than his career totals. Even last year, after getting roughed up by the Phils in April and later being dropped from the rotation, Lincecum spooned them seven innings of two-run ball in July.
That said, half of Lincecum’s outings this year have lasted only five innings.
Madison Bumgarner last night could go only six, and the Giants were forced to deploy two of their three relievers with sub-2.00 ERAs for, basically, garbage time. One of them, Chad Gaudin (1.47 ERA), went two innings, and figures to be unavailable for tonight.
More shaky Lincecum: he’s served four or more runs in three of six, thanks to this year’s second-highest line drive rate in all of baseball, 31.2 percent.
Even his curveball, once the toast of big league breaking balls, is getting smoked for a .333 average this year. In his 2008 Cy Young season, Lincecum held opponents to a .155 average off the pitch and struck out 40.8 percent of batters who saw it.
The Giants do support this guy. Lincecum’s 6.00 runs of support per start are fourth-best in the National League.
Then again, so do the Phillies for Kyle Kendrick (3-1, 2.43 ERA), the recipient of 4.83 RS, tops in the rotation. Not that he’s needed it.
Kendrick is one of only three NL starters this year to go six innings or more and allow two or fewer runs in five straight starts this year. He’s got a 1.54 ERA over the span, which includes the Phillie rotation’s only complete game this year, his second-to-last time out at Citi Field on Apr. 26.
His last time out, he punched seven innings of two-run ball against the Marlins last Thursday.
Though the Giants have worked him for a 4.38 ERA and .274 batting average in two career starts, both were at Citizens Bank Park – not nearly as pitcher-friendly as AT&T.
How Kendrick’s season plays out will be intriguing.
He’s earning only $4.5 million, and the Phillies hold arbitration rights through next year. For trade deadline buyers, that’s July gold. Of course, so too is it for a Phillies team that may need to push the reset button at year’s end.
If they want to avoid that, they can get to stepping again tonight.
That starts at the top, with Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, who’ve combined for only four hits for a .105 average over their last six games.
Michael Young’s still sizzling, and hitting .382 with a trio of three-hit games since Apr. 26, the series opener with the Mets.
Ryan Howard and Domonic Brown, meanwhile, have combined for five HRs in their last five games – all solo shots, as have been each of the Phillies last 10 and 19 of 28 on the year.