LOS ANGELES — It’s a short flight home from Los Angeles, and for once the Giants were scheduled to get home at a decent hour after a road trip. But there will be no rest for management and no off day, despite the fact that the Giants don’t play Monday.
Manager Bruce Bochy will meet with vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean and general manager Bobby Evans to figure out once and for all what the Giants are going to do with their rotation. Bochy has already started those conversations with coaches Dave Righetti and Mark Gardner and said he expects to have a new look to the rotation on Tuesday.
“We’re looking at everything,” Bochy said. “Who may need a break. Of course, who is throwing well. You always want to go on merit, that plays a part in it.”
If that’s the case, then Sunday was a rougher day for Tim Lincecum than it first appeared. The four-out start was the shortest of his career, and with five runs on his ledger, Lincecum now has allowed 21 runs in his last 27 innings.
Lincecum said this stretch has come about because he is no longer locating his fastball as needed, and he’s having trouble putting hitters away. The real trouble Sunday started when he walked a batter after two quick outs in the first, and an inning later he couldn’t put Yasiel Puig away during a 10-pitch battle that ended with a two-run single.
“I wasn’t making good finish-off pitches,” Lincecum said. “I think I do a better job getting ahead than finishing guys off.”
Lincecum’s strikeout rate is down to a career-low seven strikeouts per nine innings, and the Dodgers took advantage Sunday. They had five runs by the end of the second and put five more on Yusmeiro Petit. Lincecum said he’s working to find a mechanical fix, and he’s hopeful that the work will keep him in the rotation.
“I still want to earn my right as a starter and put pressure on them to make that decision,” he said.
Bochy said no decisions have been made yet, but there appears to be a rough framework. One option would be to put a veteran on the disabled list, and behind closed doors, the Giants are leaning that way with Tim Hudson, the 39-year-old with a 4.52 ERA. Bochy would say only that “we’ve got a couple of guys going out there and they’ve been beat up and they’re giving us all they have.”
Bochy wouldn’t commit to any firm plans, even saying they haven't ruled out a six-man rotation, but Madison Bumgarner is locked in as the ace and Matt Cain and Jake Peavy will return as starters. The Giants do not want to move Chris Heston, either, which would — if Hudson hits the DL — leave Ryan Vogelsong and Lincecum as bullpen candidates.
“I don’t want to get into who could come out,” Bochy said. “I don’t think that’s fair. As we get further in conversations, I’ll talk to the guys, of course, but right now there is nothing happening.”
Lincecum wasn’t the only problem on Sunday. As they have done so often over the last several weeks, the Giants slipped into some sloppy baseball. Brandon Belt kicked a single to left, allowing a runner to reach second. Justin Maxwell tried to reach third on a two-out double to the right field wall and was thrown out easily. Lincecum gave up a run on a wild pitch in the first inning, and he failed to cover the plate. The lineup managed just two runs.
“It was overall an off day for everybody,” Bochy said. “We played well the first two and just had an off day. We might be better on Mother’s Day.”
Indeed they are. Matt Duffy’s walk-off gave the Giants a Mother’s Day win last month at AT&T Park. The Giants now head home for six against the Padres and Rockies, and while that seems like a good opportunity on paper, this is a team that hasn’t played well against the non-favorites in the division. The Giants are 9-3 against the Dodgers but just 9-17 against the rest of the West. They also have dropped nine of their last 10 games at AT&T Park.
“We have to get better at that, no question about it,” Bochy said. “We’ve got to do something about it and play better.”