The San Francisco Giants have stopped hitting during a four-game losing streak, and a St. Louis Cardinals team that boasts one of best ERAs in baseball may not give them much of an opportunity to get back on track offensively.
Lincecum, who has not allowed a run in two of his three starts, will look to improve to 4-0 when the Giants begin a three-game set against the visiting Cardinals on Friday night.
San Francisco (8-7) averaged 6.2 runs in opening 8-3, but scored five runs in the past four games. The Giants allowed only nine runs in three games at San Diego this week, but the Padres finished off a sweep with a 5-2 victory Wednesday night.
“It was a tough series for us, a tough road trip,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “We have to get these bats going.”
The Cardinals’ starting staff has a 2.82 ERA that is tops in the NL, not much of a surprise with Chris Carpenter(notes), Adam Wainwright(notes) and Brad Penny(notes) in the rotation. What’s fairly shocking is that Jaime Garcia(notes) (1-0, 0.69 ERA) has been the team’s best starter.
The rookie left-hander held his own against New York Mets ace Johan Santana(notes) on Saturday, giving up one hit over seven scoreless innings before St. Louis (10-5) went on to win 2-1 in 20 innings.
Garcia’s task doesn’t get any easier Friday. Lincecum’s 2.55 ERA since the beginning of 2008 is the lowest in baseball.
“If he wants to be as good as he can be, there’s no edge to the opposite pitcher,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa told MLB.com about Garcia. “Your edge is, do you get ready to get the hitters out? Because suppose you face a guy out there who’s 0-10. You’re not going to be as sharp or as ready? Human nature.”
Lincecum (3-0, 0.90) has looked more than capable of being the first to win a third straight Cy Young Award since Randy Johnson(notes) won four from 1999-2002. Lincecum held Los Angeles to four hits over six innings while striking out seven Saturday, also driving in three runs in a 9-0 victory.
“This kid’s special, to accomplish what he has already,” Bochy said. “He’s got great stuff, poise, and he’s so competitive. … Nothing he does surprises me anymore.”
Lincecum has won all four of his starts against St. Louis with a 1.61 ERA, and threw a two-hitter in a 10-0 victory at Busch Stadium on June 29.
The Cardinals have taken two of three in each of their first five series. After scoring 18 runs during a six-game homestand, they broke out offensively at Arizona, piling up 20 runs in the three-game set and capping it off with a 9-4 win Wednesday.
“I just (wasn’t) putting it together,” Rasmus told the Cardinals’ official website. “Tonight I felt like my swing was where I want it to be.”