Chad Gaudin GiantsThe San Francisco Giants are still coming together as a team, and it’s clear that the finished product won’t look like we thought it would. The rotation, which was supposed to be as steady and dependable as any five-man group in the Majors, hasn’t turned out as planned. But today, the unexpected actually turned out nicely for the Giants in a 4-2 win that salvaged a trip to St. Louis that didn’t start all that nicely.

Who would have predicted a couple years ago, or even a couple months ago, that the only Giants starter capable of striking out someone with a 94 mph fastball would be Chad Gaudin? But that’s exactly what he did against Matt Holliday to end the first inning. Then he ended the second by striking out David Freese on a pitch that went 95. Gaudin gave up a 2-run homer to Freese in the fourth inning, but his start was fantastic given the circumstances: an 80-pitch limit, facing a very good team on the road, Gaudin’s own team reeling after a pathetic doubleheader the day before.

No walks. Only four hits allowed, and one on a lazy pop fly that probably could’ve been caught if Andres Torres would’ve been more aggressive in charging the ball and calling off Brandon Crawford. It was the type of outing rarely seen from Giants starters this season: a quality start. Speaking of this elusive achievement, Andrew Baggarly wrote this today:

Tim Lincecum took his spikes to the bullpen Sunday afternoon.

He was only the safety valve this time. But someday, he might become the fireman. And perhaps someday soon.

The Giants would turn Lincecum into a late-inning reliever “in a heartbeat,” according to one club source, if they had another starting pitcher in the system ready to take his place in the rotation.

That isn’t the case now – and probably won’t be anytime soon, unless the Giants get Ryan Vogelsong back at the end of July from a fractured pinkie and also acquire a starter on the trade market.

Gaudin probably guaranteed a spot in the rotation for at least another start, probably longer. Possibly much longer, depending on whether he can continue throwing strikes low in the zone like he did today. Can he possibly push Lincecum to the bullpen? A lot would have to happen for that idea to become reality, mostly having to do with Lincecum pitching worse than Gaudin for several weeks. And since road wins have been tough to come by, it’s probably best to worry about today and today alone. I’m sure KNBR callers will heed that advice, as they are known for rationality and keeping things in perspective.

Stolen BASGs

– Have to believe most of the top GIFs from this week came from today’s game. Sergio Romo ran to first to cover on the last out without looking at Brett Pill. By the time Romo looked up, Pill was applying the tag — to him first, then David Freese.

“I think he’s fine,” said Buster Posey about Romo, who pounded the dirt in anger after the collision, a different post-save gesture than we usually see. “And I think Pill’s going to win that one every time.”

– Posey (4-for-4) and Pill (0-for-4, 2 K, 6 LOB) were polar opposites at the plate.

– With Pill and Noonan providing next to nothing offensively, Gaudin probably leaving the bullpen for a while and Ramon Ramirez allowing runs in each of his three appearances since coming up … don’t be surprised if the Giants make a personnel move or two between now and Tuesday evening’s game against the Blue Jays.

/looks at Grizzlies stats

Just don’t ask me which move(s) they’ll make.

– “I’ve always been comfortable facing lefties. I know I can get up there and get a good at-bat,” Belt told me after Thursday’s game, when he hit a two-run double into the left field gap off Hideki Okajima. Today he hit a two-run double into the left field gap off lefty reliever Randy Choate in the seventh inning as a pinch hitter.

– I tweeted this with Yadier Molina at the plate:

Then this happened:

My timing was either perfect or terrible. Perrible, even. Or not.

– By the way, I got a lot of strong candidates after asking my question about neck tattoos. People will still respect Yadi even after today’s outburst, so my list looks like this:

Most respected people (okay, athletes) in the world with neck tattoos

  1. Yadier Molina
  2. David Beckham
  3. Felix Hernandez
  4. Jamal Crawford
  5. Marcus Camby
  6. Allen Iverson
  7. Birdman

– Besides the ball that fell between Torres and Crawford and Pill almost killing Romo, the Giants’ defense was outstanding today. Marco Scutaro made a great play to his backhand side in the seventh inning, and Crawford made two plays so good one was deemed the “(Car Company) Right Choice” and the other was the “Electrifying Play of the Week.” Crawford does radio commercials for a certain bank, but he’s a more efficient pitchman with his glove.