Brandon Belt

Once again, it’s all about Tim Lincecum vs. Clayton Kershaw

One can only imagine how much fun the Giants are having after sweeping that 4-game series against the Rockies. Loud dominoes games in the clubhouse, with louder Lil’ Wayne, Jay-Z, Eminem and Drake playing in the background. A rollicking bus ride, followed by a plane flight from Denver to Los Angeles full of laughs, beer and gambling (and maybe not in that order). Once in L.A., there’s so many possibilities to spend evening-before-the-off-day, but only one logical selection…


Zito’s house.

As you read this, there’s another dominoes game going on in Zito’s crib right now. Or some sort of debaucherous version of Twister. Or both. With a ton of free time tomorrow and an 8-game winning streak in their rearview mirror, the Giants are probably ready to party. And based on the last couple months, a looser Giants team is probably a better Giants team. They have nothing to lose at this point, and the team that’s trying not to cough up the NL West hosts the Giants in five days.

But if the Giants don’t at least win two of three in L.A., the D-Backs can still win the division fairly easily, even if they get swept by the Giants. When Tim Lincecum faces Clayton Kershaw on Tuesday for the fourth time this season, he can’t just pitch well. He has to crush him.

Lincecum’s been up for the challenge in each of their three meetings, but Kershaw has been just a little bit better every time.

Opening Night @ LA
Lincecum:   7 IP – 5 H – 1 R – 0 ER – 3 BB – 5 K (104 pitches, 58 strikes)
Kershaw:     7 IP – 4 H – 0 R – 0 ER – 1 BB – 9 K (96 pitches, 65 strikes)

July 20 @ SF
Lincecum:   7 IP – 5 H – 1 R – 1 ER – 4 BB – 7 K (112 pitches, 69 strikes)
Kershaw:    8 IP – 3 H – 0 R – 0 ER – 1 BB – 12 K (112 pitches, 70 strikes)

September 9 @ SF
Lincecum:  8 IP – 6 H – 1 R – 1 ER – 2 BB – 6 K (127 pitches, 84 strikes)
Kershaw:    8 IP – 3 H – 1 R – 0 ER – 1 BB – 9 K (111 pitches, 76 strikes)

Lincecum:  22 IP – 16 H – 3 R – 2 ER – 9 BB – 18 K (343 pitches, 211 strikes)
Kershaw:    23 IP – 10 H – 1 R – 0 ER – 3 BB – 30 K (319 pitches, 211 strikes)

This last week-plus has made a lot of people feel a lot better about pretty much everything. 6 home runs on Sunday, matching their season total through Saturday. Matt Cain hit a homer today, an occurrence Dave Flemming has predicted during nearly every one of Cain’s starts this year — even though Cain hadn’t gone yard since he was 23 (in 2008).

If Lincecum can finally beat his nemesis, anything will seem possible. If Kershaw leads the Doyers to another 2-0 win on Tuesday night, some of the Giants may head over to Captain Yoga’s house. But instead of playing naked twister and hitting golf balls off Zito’s roof into the yards of other millionaires, they’ll be drowning their sorrows in really, really expensive Bud Light.

No pressure on Lincecum! If he gives up even a run, the Giants probably lose a game, their winning streak, their mojo, and a chance to be able to reasonably convince themselves that another night of guiltless partying at Zito’s house is a good idea. If he wins, Pat Burrell puts on the Machine costume.

Beard, feared … again

— Just so there’s no confusion, all the stuff about partying at Zito’s house is pure speculation. For all I know the party could be at Brian Wilson’s house tonight.

— It’s another reason to party: Wilson’s been one of the grumpiest looking guys I’ve ever seen since getting clubhouse access, and to get him back, and with a 1-2-3 inning to boot, has to be a huge lift — to the beat writers. Oh, and the Giants as well. But mostly the beat writers.

— It would be a shame if all these huge lifts for the Giants led to them finishing 2 games behind the Braves and D-Backs, but everyone should be prepared for that outcome.

— One would assume playing in Florida and Washington isn’t as hard for Atlanta as it is for the Giants, but those are the tough games the Braves are facing. Don’t bank on Philadelphia going to Atlanta during the last three games of the season and putting up anything close to a fight. What, you think they’d rather play the Giants than Atlanta? Cain’s to the Phillies like Kershaw is to the Giants, only harder to hit.

— Eli Whiteside seems cool and all, and I digged the way he bounced up and down before tackling Placido Polanco as much as anyone, but he needs to be the No. 3 catcher the rest of the way.

— Ramon Ramirez has had a quietly incredible 2011.

— Is Brandon Belt the first person to have three games in one series where he went 1-for-5 with a HR?

— Belt’s line before Colorado: .218/.307/.367

— Belt’s line after Colorado: .216/.298/.407

— Is there a way to start a petition to keep Bochy from playing Orlando Cabrera instead of Brandon Crawford on Tuesday night? With Kershaw on the mound, I don’t think a hashtag’s going to cut it.

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