Before the Giants lost to the Cardinals on Saturday afternoon, San Francisco star catcher and Leesburg native Buster Posey was presented his NL MVP trophy.
SAN FRANCISCO — In Tim Lincecum’s first start of 2013, catcher Buster Posey played first base.
Speculation was hot and heavy last year that the two had a strained relationship. Posey didn’t catch Lincecum much, but both of them, along with manager Bruce Bochy, denied there were any issues between them. In fact, they looked perfectly fine together in the postseason, when Lincecum dominated in relief while throwing to Posey.
In the third game this season, Posey was at first because first baseman Brandon Belt had a stomach illness. So Hector Sanchez caught.
Here we go again.
“I’ll still be answering this question,” said Bochy, referring to the reasons he didn’t pair Posey with Lincecum. “But I’m telling the truth.”
Posey, a native of Leesburg and the 2012 NL MVP, didn’t catch Lincecum much in spring training, either. But Lincecum missed a couple of starts with a finger blister.
Anyway, with Posey at first, Lincecum lasted five innings, barely. He walked seven Dodgers (tying a career high) but got credit for the win, and he got a vote of confidence when Bochy left him in (after a visit to the mound) with two outs in the fifth. Lincecum got the final out to qualify for the win.
He held the Dodgers to two earned runs and three hits, but it wasn’t pretty.
“He showed he’s got the ability to keep his poise and make pitches when he has to and not have things go awry, which sometimes happened last year,” Bochy said.
Lincecum’s next start will be at home against the Rockies on Tuesday.
“I just try to pitch with my heart out there when I know things aren’t going well,” said Lincecum, summing up his attitude in tough times while declining to comment on why Posey didn’t catch him.
And there were plenty of tough times in 2012 when Lincecum posted a 5.18 ERA.
Now he’s pitching for a new contract and pride, wanting to show last year was an aberration, not a sign of things to come.
Posey honored, Beltran’s three RBI lift Cardinals against his former team
SAN FRANCISCO -- Carlos Beltran heard boos every time he came to the plate on Saturday at AT&T Park.
Then he did something to make it worse: He got hits.
Beltran exacted a bit of revenge against his former part-time employer, driving in three runs, two on a tiebreaking, two-out single in a three-run fifth inning, lifting the St. Louis Cardinals to a 6-3 victory over the San Francisco Giants.
“Of course (I heard the boos). I’m not deaf,” the Cardinals right fielder said after getting his first RBI of the season. “There’s not a person in the world who likes to be booed, but it’s part of the game. You have to deal with it.”
Beltran’s productive afternoon came on a day the Giants set aside to honor catcher Buster Posey, presenting him his 2012 National League Most Valuable Player plaque in an on-field ceremony immediate preceding the game’s first pitch.
With Posey out with a broken leg, Beltran played 44 games for the Giants as a rental player in the stretch run of the 2011 season in the club’s unsuccessful bid to catch the Arizona Diamondbacks for the National League West title. The Giants’ 167th consecutive sellout vented its frustration on him, unwilling to forget his inability to be a difference-maker two years ago.
“I’m not trying to beat the fans,” Beltran said. “I’m trying to beat the team.”
The switch-hitter certainly was a difference-maker Saturday, first snapping the Giants starting pitchers’ season-opening streak of innings without allowing an earned run at 26 2/3 with a two-out RBI single in the first inning that plated Matt Carpenter.
But it was the fifth-inning shot into right field that brought home Carpenter and Matt Holliday and broke a 2-2 tie that Giants fans had envisioned when Beltran was acquired on July 28, 2011.
Beltran, who left the club as a free agent that off-season, signing with the Cardinals, began the day hitting .100 as St. Louis had lost three of its first four.
“Today was a game where we scored a lot with two outs. That’s big for any team,” said Beltran, whose two run-producing hits both came with two down. “We’ve got a lot of guys here who take a lot of pride hitting in those situations.
“This is a good team, man. Guys from top to bottom who can do the job. It’s fun as a player, you just want to be part of it.”
Shelby Miller (1-0), who moved into the starting rotation this season with Chris Carpenter out because of shoulder issues, survived an early Hunter Pence homer to post a win in his just second career start, his first on the road. He struck out four in 5 1/3 innings and got a lot of help not only from Beltran but also four relievers, with Mitchell Boggs notching his first save of the season in a four-batter ninth inning.
“The offense was swinging great today,” said Miller, who watched Jake Westbrook’s impressive performance go for naught in Friday’s 1-0 loss in the series opener. “We have one of the best lineups in the league.”
Pablo Sandoval’s second home run of the young season, off the Cardinals’ fourth pitcher, Edward Mujica, got the Giants within 5-3 in the eighth and kept San Francisco’s hopes alive for a fourth consecutive win.
When Posey smacked the next pitch off the right-field wall for a double, the Giants were able to bring the potential tying run to the plate three times in the inning, but Mujica escaped further damage.
“I thought it had a chance (to be a home run),” Posey said of his only hit in four at-bats. “It’s hard to tell here sometimes.”
Other than the defeat, it was a memorable day for the seventh MVP in Giants history.
“It means a lot to be able to celebrate that with the fans,” Posey said. “And having my family here. I was able to share it with my family, too.”
Carpenter’s ninth-inning single off Javier Lopez brought home Shane Robinson with a Cardinals insurance run.
Ryan Vogelsong (0-1) gave up both of Beltran’s run-producing hits and took the loss, lasting 5 1/3 innings.
Two infield hits set the stage for Beltran in the Cardinals’ fifth.
With St. Louis down 2-1, No. 8 hitter Pete Kozma reached base to lead off the uprising when shortstop Brandon Crawford’s long throw from the hole skidded on the wet grass and handcuffed Giants first baseman Brandon Belt. Kozma was credited with a hit.
After a two-out walk to Carpenter, Holliday got St. Louis even with a grounder into left field, scoring Kozma.
Vogelsong appeared to get out of the inning when he got Allen Craig to ground meekly to the left side of the infield, but Sandoval, the Giants’ third baseman, had the ball deflect off his glove as he dived in front of Crawford.
All runners were safe, loading the bases for Beltran, who didn’t need any of the Giants’ help on his hit, lining a shot into right field to score Carpenter and Holliday, producing a 4-2 Cardinals lead.
“We had some tough luck,” Posey said of the infield hits. “But give the Cardinals credit. They hit some tough pitches.”
Early on, it took an odd combination of two shattered bats, a passed ball and a wild pitch to end the Giants’ streak of innings without allowing an earned run.
After retiring Jon Jay to open the game, Vogelsong twice splintered Carpenter’s bat, the second time producing a 60-foot squibber down the third-base line that resulted in a single.
Carpenter took second when Posey couldn’t handle a third strike on Holliday, and reached third on a ball in the dirt that eluded the reigning MVP as Craig was being walked.
The Giants’ streak ended when Beltran dumped a two-out single into short right field.
NOTES: With their first four starting pitchers having surrendered no earned runs through 26 innings, the Giants were attempting to better the Milwaukee Brewers’ stretch of 31 2/3 innings to start the 1976 season. … The Giants began the 2010 season without allowing an earned run for 19 innings, which had equaled the franchise record before this year’s group shattered the mark. … Four former National League MVPs -- Jeff Kent (2000), Kevin Mitchell (1989), Willie McCovey (1969) and Willie Mays (1954, ’65) -- were on hand for the pregame ceremony honoring Posey, the 2012 MVP. … Carl Hubbell (1933, ’36) and Barry Bonds (1993, ’01-04) were the other National League MVPs in Giants history. … Most Cardinals players who weren’t warming up stood in line on the top step of the first-base dugout and applauded the introduction of Posey and the formal plaque presentation. … Current Giants who also were members of the team last season will receive their World Series championship rings before Sunday’s series finale. Twenty-one of the 25 Giants on this season’s Opening Day roster were members of the team last year as well. … The teams will count upon their Opening Day starting pitchers -- the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright and the Giants’ Matt Cain -- to produce a win in Sunday’s rubber match of the three-game series between last year’s National League Championship Series opponents.