San Francisco has hit the ball well while dominating at home this season. It’s been a different story on the road.
The Giants get a chance to reverse those road woes Tuesday night when they open a 10-game trip against the slumping Washington Nationals.
San Francisco (25-24) begins this three-game set following a 5-1 homestand. Aaron Rowand(notes), Pablo Sandoval(notes), Fred Lewis(notes) and Rich Aurilia(notes) had two hits apiece in Sunday’s 5-3 win over St. Louis as the Giants tagged Cardinals pitching for 12 hits.
“I’ve been very encouraged with the way we’ve been swinging the bats here at home,” manager Bruce Bochy told the Giants’ official Web site. “We need to carry that into the road trip.”
San Francisco, which has won eight of nine series at AT&T Park this season, is batting .279 while winning 18 of 27 home games. On the road, the Giants are 7-15 and are hitting just .234.
Facing a Washington club that has one of the worst ERAs in the major leagues (5.69) could be what San Francisco needs to start closing the large gap between it and the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers.
“We’re playing teams record-wise who are below us,” Aurilia said of this trip to face the Nationals, Florida Marlins and Arizona Diamondbacks. “This is a trip we should try to take advantage of and have a winning record, not a .500 trip.”
The Nationals (13-36) would likely settle for .500 baseball after dropping six straight and 18 of 21.
“We’re not a bad team, although our record obviously says that,” third baseman Ryan Zimmerman(notes) said after Sunday’s 4-2 loss to Philadelphia. “Some people need to look at themselves in the mirror. I think it’s an individual thing now, more than a team thing. Everyone worries about the team—but if everyone does what he’s supposed to do, that’s when we’ll take off.”
After batting .143 with one home run in April, Nationals left fielder Josh Willingham(notes) hit .303 in May with eight homers, including two in Sunday’s loss. He has just 12 RBIs this season, as all his home runs have come with the bases empty.
“I’m proud of the fact that I have nine home runs, but I sure wish some of them were two-run or three-run homers,” Willingham said.
This will be his first look at San Francisco right-hander Tim Lincecum(notes) (4-1, 3.03 ERA). The reigning National League Cy Young Award winner struck out eight over eight innings in Tuesday’s 4-0 win over Atlanta. The Giants had lost Lincecum’s previous two starts.
“It takes some people longer to get ready for a season,” he said. “I feel like I’m kind of getting into that zone right now.”
Lincecum, 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA in two career starts against the Nationals, has struck out eight or more in seven of his last eight outings. He needs one strikeout to reach 500 for his career.
Rowand rolled his right ankle in Sunday’s win, but is expected to play Tuesday for the Giants. He is batting .375 (18 for 48) with two home runs and seven doubles during an 11-game hitting streak.
San Francisco won all four meetings at Nationals Park last season, and took two of three at home from Washington when these teams met May 11-13.