Despite R.A. Dickey's struggles this season, you wouldn't know it in his two starts versus the Giants. Dickey's knuckleball was on point Wednesday afternoon, going 8 1/3 innings with only two hits allowed. Toronto put four runs on Zito in the fifth inning and that was enough to get their 25th win of the season.
Zito matched Dickey up until that fifth when he allowed two of the Blue Jays elder statesman to start a rally in the fifth. He walked catcher Henry Blanco and Dickey slapped a double down the third base line to score his catcher. Ex-Giant Mark DeRosa finished the damage in the inning with a two run single to cap the scoring. Zito went six innings, gave up seven hits, walked three, and had no strikeouts. He dropped to 4-4 in 2013.
The good news for San Francisco came on Tuesday night. Tim Lincecum had everything working Tuesday night in the 2-1 victory. It was Lincecum's fourth win of the season. Except for a first inning home run to Edwin Encarnacion, Lincecum sparkled through seven innings, gave up three hits, and struck out six. Hopefully Lincecum can carry the good starts he has had at home over to the road in June.
The Giants are on the road for three series, beginning with three games at Chase Field in Phoenix. Arizona is coming off a four game series with the St. Louis Cardinals in St. Louis. Unlike the Giants, there was no off day for the Diamondbacks as they played Thursday.
The Giants enter this series 2.5 games behind the division leaders, who are riding the emergence of All Star shoe in first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. The 25 year old is batting .333 and is tied for fourth in the National League with 14 home runs. He hit two grand slams on Arizona's road trip with one in Chicago and the other in St. Louis. He also leads the N.L. with 54 RBI, good enough for second in the entire MLB behind Miguel Cabrera.
I would also marvel at his MLB leading 3.8 WAR (wins above replacement) stat, but that would require people like the math giddy Brian Kenny of MLB Network, sabermetric founding father Bill James, Baseball Prospectus' entire staff, and KNBR's own Eric Byrnes to explain its advanced statistical meaning. So I'll just leave it with the simple fact Paul Goldschmidt passes the eye ball as well as the sabermetric test with his current play.
A core of steady starters lead by Ian Kennedy, Trevor Cahill, and 23 year old Patrick Corbin have been Arizona's three best arms. Corbin has taken advantage of many team's unfamiliarity with him going 9-0 with a 2.06 ERA through 11 starts. Arizona had 15 wins in May, which was preceded by being swept by the Giants at home. They are arguably playing their most consistent baseball right now, which includes being without the surprisingly productive Eric Chavez and closer J.J. Putz. They return home dropping the finale in St. Louis 12-8, with Ian Kennedy tagged for 10 earned runs.
Angel Pagan has remained out of the lineup and his status for the series is still questionable. He did take batting practice Wednesday in hopes of being ready for this series. Despite Andres Torres and Gregor Blanco cobbling together the starts in center and at leadoff, it's evident the team misses his energetic spark to set the table. Pablo Sandoval's strained left foot prevented him from finishing Wednesday's game. Bruce Bochy has been putting Joaquin Arias in the games late, especially when the Giants have the lead for defensive purposes. The injury doesn't seem to affect his swing, but Sandoval has a noticeable hobble in the field and on the bases.
Matt Cain and Corbin begin the series Friday. Corbin did make 17 starts in 2012, and he already has five career starts against the Giants with a 4.45 ERA. Madison Bumgarner and former A's sinkerballer Trevor Cahill go Saturday night. Chad Gaudin will make his second consecutive start, while the Diamondbacks turn to another young left hander Tyler Skaggs in the Sunday finale.
Gaudin is slated to go, but Bochy does have the option of starting Tim Lincecum on regular rest because of the off day Thursday. Gaudin's outing in St. Louis may force Bochy to give him another start. Skaggs, a 21 year old from Woodland Hills, fills the void left by Brandon Mccarthy's trip to the disabled list. Skaggs shined in his first start on May 27th against Texas, but was hit hard by St. Louis Tuesday for five runs on Tuesday.
It's the same pitching lineup as last weekend in St. Louis. Cain and Bumgarner seek better results, but who would have thought Chad Gaudin would be the stopper, hitting 95 on the radar gun for kicks. The Giants have 10 wins to 17 losses on the road. June provides them plenty of games with which to improve upon that mark. And it starts in a park where they already achieved a sweep this season.