Giants Pitching Flourishes at Home, Taking Series From Arizona

Joe CasoloCorrespondent IApril 20, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO - APRIL 07:  Tim Lincecum #55 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Milwaukee Brewers during Opening Day of the Major League Baseball season on April 7, 2009 at AT&T Park in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Coming off a forgettable road trip, getting broomed in San Diego and Los Angeles, the San Francisco Giants were eager to defend the home fort.

The Diamondbacks came to town Friday night looking to improve on their own slow start. Run production has been a large contributor to why these two teams have underperformed.

Over the weekend, the run totals did not exactly soar. A grand total of six runs were scored over the coarse of the three games for these two teams. Stellar pitching on both sides being the deciding factor in the series.

Jonathan Sanchez took the hill Friday night and gave the Giants exactly what they needed, their first win in seven games. He took in a two-hit shut out into the seventh inning before turning it over to the bullpen.

The lefty had great stuff, striking out four and walking four as he established his pitches early on.

The Diamondbacks own Dan Haren gave the Giants hitters troubles of their own. A pair of doubles by Pablo Sandoval and Bengie Molina put the Giants on the board in the fourth inning. A solo shot by Andres Torres in the eighth was the games only other score.

On Saturday, both teams went at it again. This time it was Doug Davis and Tim Lincecum dueling away on a beautiful day at AT&T Park. Again both pitchers looked sharp. Davis allowed eight hits over eight innings, striking out six.

Lincecum, the NL Cy Young Award winner from 2008 finally found his groove.

Giants Manager Bruce Bochy had indicated Lincecum had gone in for tests on his stomach early Friday, and checked out okay. Saturday the young righty seemed over his ailments, striking out a season high 13 batters and allowing only five hits and zero runs.

The pitchers battled well into the ninth inning when Chris Young's two run double off of closer Brian Wilson put the Diamondbacks up for good. Tim Lincecum looked like his former dominant self but was not able to secure his first victory of the 2009 season.

The table was set for another great pitching bout on Sunday. Up and coming D'back Max Scherzer was on to face the former Arizona ace Randy Johnson. Scherzer is a little known bright spot for Arizona.

The 25-year-old RHP pitched extremely well, holding the Giants to only three hits in five innings. If Arizona can continue to develop Max Scherzer, they will have found a nice fit to their already solid rotation.

The Arizona Diamondbacks finally got a taste of what it's like to face the Big Unit.  The towering 45-year-old left handed fire-baller smoked his former team on a sun drenched Sunday afternoon by the Bay. Johnson's slider looked better than it has all year, working counts and chalking up seven K's.

Even better, the Big Unit took a no hitter into the seventh inning. Arizona shortstop Augie Ojeda broke it up by doubling to left center.

The win gave Randy Johnson his 296 career win. Suffice it to say that if the Big Unit can keep locating his fastballs and sliders like he did Sunday, we should see win No. 300 fairly early on this season.

Johnson, who likened his performance to being a natural competitor was aloof about it having something to do with facing his former team.

Following the scoring theme for the weekend, the Giants managed to get two runs across to take the series. San Francisco is tied for last with Arizona and hopes to build on one of the few positive notes of the season.

While Arizona may only be experiencing a slump in terms of batting, the Giants seem to be operating as expected at the plate. San Francisco began the 2009 season with one of the lowest rated lineups in all of baseball. If the Giants don't learn to play small-ball, their chances of competing in the NL West are not very good.