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SAN FRANCISCO – Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Tim Lincecum is “good to go” and he acknowledged he needs to back off using one of his relief pitchers – but not Hunter Strickland, who has allowed five home runs this postseason.
It’s Jean Machi who will be put on the back burner, and probably won’t face a right-handed hitter in a key spot. As a result, Yusmeiro Petit and Tim Lincecum could have expanded roles in which they enter with runners on base.
“I think we do have to back off him a bit,” Bochy said of Machi. “We might have to make an adjustment, whether you go to guys earlier, go to a Petit or Timmy and make them part of the mix, even though they haven’t really done that all year. We’ve been in this postseason awhile and it’s fair to say Machi is having a hard time getting on track.”
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Machi took a 1.57 ERA into September but allowed nine runs in his last nine regular-season innings, then has been scored upon in three of five postseason appearances.
“He hasn’t been able to get out there and get on a roll, and he’s probably lost a little confidence, to be honest,” Bochy said.
Machi’s out pitch is his splitter, but there’s nothing tastier than a hanging one. He also got burned on a changeup that the Cardinals’ Oscar Taveras hit out in the NLCS. Maybe that’s why, after relieving Jake Peavy in the sixth inning of Game 2 at Kansas City, Machi threw three consecutive fastballs to Billy Butler. The first two were balls and the third one was over the plate and resulted in a tiebreaking single.
It was not the pitch sequence that anyone in the Giants dugout wanted to see.
The Giants might be second-guessing leaving George Kontos off this roster, especially given how well he pitched in the 2012 postseason. But there’s no sense looking back now. You can’t make a roster change mid-series unless you are replacing an injured player.
Lincecum’s back checked out, and Bochy said the right-hander is good to go one day after getting a precautionary MRI. As for Strickland, Bochy said he needs the rookie to keep his confidence and he would turn to him to face a batter or two – even in a leveraged spot.