It was the scene that started an ugly week of baseball for the San Francisco Giants back on May 14th, when the Giants made their way into Toronto for a short two game series. Not only did the Blue Jays beat them down inside Rogers Centre, but a carryover effect ensued as the Rockies beat them in a series as well. Toronto outscored San Francisco 21-9 over two games and illustrated the power presence up and down their lineup. Now it's payback time.
The Giants have gone 7-10 since their mid May trip to Toronto. Their standing within the N.L. West is not a concern as much as their struggles on the road. Despite their Sunday win, San Francisco owns a 10-17 road record, and that will continue to be tested the whole month of June. Their counterpart from the North has an identical road record, and their chances of improving upon it will be tough. First, the Giants losses' in Toronto are fresh in their minds. Second, the Giants are one of three teams with 20 or more wins at home (Cincinnati and Pittsburgh).
All three starters went six innings over the weekend, with Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner having to bit the bullet for the bullpen's sake. Cain allowed six runs and Bumgarner gave up five. The most impressive player was spot starter Chad Gaudin, who was put into that role for the first time since 2009. Whether or not the radar gun was a little hot on Sunday, Gaudin hit 94 and 95 miles per hour routinely with five strikeouts. His only mistake of the game was a two run homer from David Freese.
Buster Posey had a four hit day, Hunter Pence had two hits including an RBI double, and Brandon Belt continues to thrive as a pinch hitter with a two run double. It was a familiar Giants win backed with strong pitching. Except the solid pitching came from a long reliever thrown into a starting role.
Toronto's lineup will have a different look come Tuesday since their last meeting with San Francisco. Third baseman Brett Lawrie was recently put on the disabled list with an ankle injury. Veteran Ramon Ortiz was the next Blue Jay starter victimized. Ortiz injured his throwing elbow in San Diego and his career could be over. Despite the unfortunate circumstances, the Giants won't miss the former Angel and one time Giant minor leaguer. Ortiz didn't look like he was 40 years old in his start against them in Toronto.
Another ex-Giant has been filling in around Toronto's infield with the Lawrie injury. Mark DeRosa will probably receive a warmer welcome than Melky Cabrera if he indeed is in the lineup. DeRosa has been penciled in at second and third base in recent games. Jose Reyes continues to be out with his badly turned ankle.
Despite all that, Toronto's lineup remains potent with the likes of Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind, Colby Rasmus, and catcher J.P. Arencibia. Their lineup is centered around power not average. And that power can display itself at any time.
In addition, big right hander Josh Johnson will return in the starting rotation Tuesday. The 29 year old broke onto the big league scene in 2006 with Florida much like Josh Beckett a few seasons before. A taller, heavier version of Beckett really with an electric fastball with wicked movement. One of the Marlins prized pitching arms, the 6-7 Johnson already has had Tommy John surgery prior to his two best seasons (2009 and 2010). He has dealt with back pain as well, which has cut his seasons short.
In 2012 he was coming off shoulder surgery and made 31 starts, but didn't regain the dominant form he had due to the injuries. This will only be his fifth start of the season, as again he has battled shoulder inflammation. When he was healthy and younger, Johnson was at the top of many MLB hitters lists of being one of the most unhittable pitchers in the league. Health issues and age may be taking their toll, even though he hasn't hit 30 yet.
The Giants will see R.A. Dickey again in the Wednesday afternoon game. Dickey's 5.18 ERA is a far cry from his 2.73 in 2012. To no surprise there have been reports he has dealt with back issues all season. His knuckleball is flat and does not have the same velocity, which set him apart from prior successful knuckleballers. It seems every player Toronto traded for in the offseason was a household, All-Star name at one point. The names may be familiar, but their productivity level has dropped significantly due to being oft-injured.
One night game and one day game make up this series. The enigma of Tim Lincecum will continue Tuesday. Lincecum has had two very good outings this season. Both were at home with starts against the Padres and Braves. It seems with each start since 2011, Lincecum is trying to figure out how to pitch without the electric fastball he once had. He thrived in the bullpen last postseason. If this pattern continues, maybe that is the rout the Giants could take for now. It's becoming a very difficult scenario with his impending free agency. Hard to recall a pitcher as accomplished as Lincecum fall off so drastically in less than two seasons. Barry Zito loves pitching at home and will get his chance to rebound from a forgettable outing at Rogers Centre. He tip toed around threats last Thursday in the afternoon against the A's.