David Price has battled through early-season struggles and an extended stint on the disabled list to regain the form that has made him one of baseball's top pitchers.
Just when it seems Tim Lincecum has done the same, he's more often than not fallen back into a rut.
As if going 1-4 with a 5.24 ERA through his first nine starts after winning the 2012 AL Cy Young wasn't bad enough, Price (6-5, 3.57 ERA) suffered a strained left triceps in a loss to Boston on May 15 that would land him on the DL for the next six weeks.
He's been stellar since his return, though, going 5-1 with a 1.68 ERA in six outings and tossing three complete games in his last five. He had completed four games in his previous 130 starts.
Price won his third straight outing after allowing one run and two hits in 7 1-3 innings of Monday's 2-1 win over the Red Sox. He retired the only batter he faced after being sent out following a 39-minute rain delay, a decision manager Joe Maddon regretted."The guy's way too important to the franchise, and he's way too important to himself to jeopardize it on July 29," Maddon said.
Price hasn't faced the Giants, who never seem to know what they're going to get from Lincecum (5-11, 4.61).
The 2008 and '09 NL Cy Young winner has one win since beating Toronto on June 4, pitching a no-hitter while striking out 13 in a 9-0 victory at San Diego on July 13.
Lincecum, though, followed that gem by giving up eight runs in 3 2-3 innings of an 11-0 loss to Cincinnati on July 22. The right-hander then gave up two runs in seven innings while striking out 10 against the Cubs in a 2-1 defeat on Sunday.
"It's a shame we couldn't get him the win," manager Bruce Bochy said.
Inconsistency, though, has been nothing new for Lincecum, who is 1-6 with a 4.42 ERA despite 63 strikeouts in 55 innings over his last nine starts. He's made it through four starts without allowing an earned run this season, only to have gone 0-3 with a 9.14 ERA in the four outings immediately after those solid performances.
Lincecum will try to help deal the Rays (64-45) a third consecutive defeat after the Giants (49-59) took Friday's series opener 3-1. Brandon Belt broke out of a 1-for-19 slump by going 3 for 4 with a solo homer and an RBI triple in his first start since getting three days off to work on his swing."Mentally I've stayed in there pretty well," Belt said. "There's just some things that I need to work on to tap into my ability a little more."
Brandon Crawford followed Belt's triple with a two-run homer as San Francisco won its third straight after dropping eight of its previous nine.
Tampa Bay is on the verge of losing three straight for the first time since June 16-18 as its lineup has gone cold. The Rays' only run Friday came on Ben Zobrist 's RBI single in the third after they mustered just three hits in a 7-0 loss to Arizona on Wednesday."There's an ebb and flow to the season; you get hot at some moments and sometimes you don't," Maddon said.
Tampa had won 12 of its previous 13 at home prior to dropping the last two. The Giants have won six of eight on the road.
|San Francisco Giants|
|July 31, 2013||Pablo Sandoval||Day-to-Day||Bruised right heel|
|July 30, 2013||Buster Posey||Day-to-Day||Ill|
|July 29, 2013||Tony Abreu||15-Day DL||Left knee bursitis|
|July 25, 2013||Marco Scutaro||Day-to-Day||Back soreness|
|July 21, 2013||Jeremy Affeldt||15-Day DL||Strained left groin|
|July 09, 2013||Hector Sanchez||15-Day DL||Strained right shoulder|
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|July 29, 2013||Matt Moore||15-Day DL||Left elbow soreness|
|June 28, 2013||Evan Longoria||Day-to-Day||Plantar fasciitis, left foot|
|June 16, 2013||Alex Cobb||15-Day DL||Concussion|
|June 05, 2013||Kelly Johnson||Day-to-Day||Back stiffness|
|May 16, 2013||David Price||15-Day DL||Left triceps strain|
|May 16, 2013||David Price||15-Day DL||Left triceps strain|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Rookie Wil Myers ended a game that saw former Cy Young Award winners David Price and Tim Lincecum start out by matching each other nearly pitch-for-pitch.
Myers hit an RBI single in the bottom of the 10th inning, lifting the Tampa Bay Rays to a 2-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Saturday night.
"He does not lack for confidence," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "He really wanted to be in that moment."
Desmond Jennings drew a leadoff walk in the 10th from Jean Machi (2-1) and stole second. Ben Zobrist was intentionally walked and Evan Longoria walked to load the bases on four pitches before Myers won it on his 0-1 liner that went over the left fielder's head.
"It was just one of those things that I knew he had to throw a good pitch," Myers said. "It's a good situation to be in, bases loaded, no outs. I just tried to stay calm up there."
Myers' parents were in attendance for his first walko-ff hit. He had a 12-game hitting streak end Friday.
"It's pretty cool to have them here for this one," Myers said.
Closer Fernando Rodney (4-2) allowed two hits during a scoreless 10th, striking out Brandon Crawford with two on and two out.
The starters were outstanding.
Price gave up one run, five hits and struck out five in nine innings. In seven starts since returning from a left triceps injury, the Rays left-hander has allowed just 10 runs, 38 hits, one walk, and struck out 40 over 57 1-3 innings.
"It's just executing pitches," Price said.
Lincecum allowed one run, six hits, one walk and fanned five in seven innings.
"We know we were up against some good pitching and we knew we had to make something happen, but you don't go out there thinking `I've got to pitch against Price, I've got to be perfect,"' Lincecum said. "I have to be perfect regardless of who I'm pitching against so it wasn't any added pressure."
Lincecum was making his third start - the previous two were losses - since throwing a no-hitter at San Diego July 13.
"He's in a good place," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's strong, he's got a lot of confidence going. He's using all his pitches. He's on the top of his game so it was a well pitched game on both sides."
It was just the second game in Rays history that featured two former Cy Young Award winners. The first came May 9 when Price pitched against Toronto knuckleballer R.A. Dickey in a contest that included both reigning winners.
Jeff Francoeur doubled leading off eighth for his third hit in three at-bats against Price and advanced to third on fly, but was left stranded when Crawford hit a soft liner and Andres Torres had a grounder.
Crawford put San Francisco up 1-0 with an RBI single in the third. Price struck out Crawford with runners on second and third to end the fifth.
Zobrist tied it at 1 in the third on a run-scoring grounder that drove in Jose Molina , who walked to open the inning. Molina went to second on wild pitch and advanced to third on Kelly Johnson 's infield single that saw Lincecum get in the way of first baseman Brett Pill as he tried to tag out Johnson.
"We just got kind of tangled up over there," Lincecum said. "I can see that he wanted to cover first on his own, and I was just kind of in the way of that."
Giants catcher Buster Posey made a nifty play in the fourth on Myers' infield single. He chased down an errant throw by the first-base dugout and threw out the speedy rookie as he tried to reach second.
Longoria went 0 for 3, including three strikeouts and two walks, and is hitless in his last 17 at-bats. He hit just .194 in July, a month the Rays went 21-5.
NOTES: Rays RHP Alex Cobb , hit in the head by a liner in June, gave up one run and three hits over four innings for Class A Charlotte in his second rehab start. His first outing July 23 ended after just two pitches due to a blister. ... Giants RHP Ryan Vogelsong (fractured right hand) will make his fourth appearance with Double-A Richmond Sunday and is nearing a return to the rotation. ... Left-handed hitting Giants 1B Brandon Belt , who had three hits in Friday night 4-1 win after three games off for a mental break and work on his swing, was not in the lineup with Price starting.