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Giants squeak by Phillies, end losing streak

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The Giants hit three dingers, and they're pretty good when they do that.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The pitching matchup was Tim Lincecum vs. Jerome Williams. Does that sound any alarms for you? It should. That's the pitching prospect who helped the Giants to the promised land again and again and again, and he was facing the pitching prospect who, well, couldn't. Lincecum's trajectory is on a downward slope, whereas Williams's trajectory was on a downward slope, but once it got low enough, it stayed pretty level for a couple years. This was the game that was going to prove some sort of point about the mortality of young pitchers. This was going to be a meaningful game.

You could see it, right? When Lincecum allowed the homer to Ryan Howard and Williams was putting the Giants in a dooky-sleep hold, it was so painfully obvious. This was going to be an of course game, in which you got to throw your hands up and pretend the universe is filled with predictable plot points. Oh, of course Lincecum is going to lose to the Phillies and Jerome Williams.

And then Williams allowed a couple homers, as he's wont to do, pitching about as well/poorly as expected. There was no meaning to this start. There was no metaphor. It was a starting pitcher of dubious quality reinforcing his team's general uneasiness about the rotation. It was the better team winning.

Then, oh, of course, right after the Giants had gone ahead by a run, the Phillies got a walk and an excuse-me single to bring up, oh, of course, Jeff Francoeur, the guy who hit fewer homers as a Giant than he allowed as a minor-league pitcher. He was the Dan Uggla without the third act, the inexplicable move that didn't have the twist ending.

He was clearly going to win the game. You could see it, right? So clearly. Francoeur was going to triple into the gap and score ...

He had an awful at-bat. More than that, he hit into a bizarro double play that was completed when a runner forgot to step on second base when heading back to first. It wasn't just an ill-timed double play. It was a stupid double play.

That's when I realized that when I was busy worrying about fake metaphors and imaginary curses, when the Phillies are dealing with things like Jeff Francoeur hitting second and Jerome Williams as their third starter. I've got all this manufactured angst about the baseball players who hurt my widdle feelings and disappointed me, and the Phillies are, like, deep in some stuff we haven't seen in a while. I don't know what the next two games will bring, but I'm pretty sure I can stop getting angsty about former Giants. It's just a little gauche to keep harping on that stuff.

(Was still pretty sure Williams was going to shut the Giants out, and that Francoeur was going to hit for the cycle, though. Guess the year is young.)

★★★

I listened to the first inning on the radio for a change, and I heard Jon Miller call Buster Posey's at-bat. The description of Posey's approach was not encouraging. The first swing came on a cutter in the opposing dugout, the second strike fooled Posey and snapped back in the zone, and the third swing was a mess, a lunging endeavor on a breaking ball way out of the zone.

An aside: "lunging" is an underrated Jon Miller word. He probably says "lunging" better than anyone alive, if you think about it.

Posey is one of the streakier players on the team, if not one of the streakier Giants in recent memory. He'll go cold for a month, then melt the National League for two. And after his golden May, I figured this was the harbinger of June doom. Here comes slump-ridden Posey. It happens.

Then he won the game on a patented Posey swing, the kind that looks like a nice line drive off the bat and easily clears center field. Maybe it's time to stop worrying about the last player the Giants have had to worry about over the last few years?

Just a thought. I think the idea of the Phillies and an eternal losing streak put me in a weird place. Sorry.

★★★

Matt Duffy: Wait, hey, what are you doing here?

Casey McGehee: Called up, bro. Was crushing Triple-A, so they brought me back.

Duffy: /training montage

McGehee: Dude, what are you doing?

Duffy: /hums powerful music with a bunch of horns during extended training montage

McGehee: I ... I gotta put my crap down in my locker. Hold on.

Duffy: /runs to top of steps at Philadelphia Museum of Art, arms aloft

McGehee: You're a weird man, Matt Duffy.

Brandon Crawford: /hits Duffy in nuts

An opposite-field dinger and a dive into the stands to end an extended, nerve-wracking plate appearance? Yeah, that'll boost your stock. Duffy is still the starting third baseman, but it's not lost on him that he's temp-to-hire. He had a stupendous game.

★★★

Tim Lincecum blew off the President of the United States so he could prepare for that start. That's impressive. It's also completely unimpressive. This is the third straight four-run start for Lincecum. It's as if he locked the dingers in his trunk, and they popped the lock, escaped, and swore revenge.

People ask me all the time, "Hey, is Lincecum for real?" I tell them that I don't know, but I'm skeptical. They ask me what kind of pitcher Lincecum is now. Now, that one I have an answer to. He's the kind of pitcher who could walk Ben Revere -- Juan Pierre without the power -- to lead off a game. He's the kind of pitcher who could float two changeups in a row to Ryan Howard, who isn't going to miss the second one, in the middle of the zone. He's the kind of pitcher who could give up a double to Jerome Williams with two outs and a runner on.

He's also the kind of pitcher who can miss bats, regardless of velocity. He will confuse and obfuscate, doing just well enough to justify his spot in the rotation.

In other words, he's the same pitcher we've watched for the last three seasons, except this one is off to a better start. This has been your Tim Lincecum Update.

★★★

Is there anything better than Sergio Romo facing a batter for the first time? Yes. There's Sergio Romo facing a rookie hacker with power for the first time.

Oooh, just missed it. Swing harder next time, and let the bat catch up with the ball before it dives out of the zone. That's my advice.

Seriously, though.

franco

I've never seen that.