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The stretch of baseball that the Giants have put together since late May up to now (July 1st) is probably the best 6 weeks of ball the Giants have played since 2004. After winning the first two games of their 4-game set with St. Louis on Monday and Tuesday, the Giants upped their record to 42-34, a season-high 8 games above .500.
Once again it was brilliant pitching, from both the starters and relievers, which carried the Giants in the first two games of the St. Louis series. Tim Lincecum provided his second straight complete game, and his third in his last four outings on Monday  night. He held the mighty Cardinals lineup, led by Albert Pujols, to a measly two hits en route to his second shutout of the season. Lincecum may have cemented his place as the NL's starting pitcher for the upcoming All-Star game in a few weeks. The kid just keeps getting better and better with each start. His June stats were ridiculous, as he threw 48.2 innings over the month, allowing just 8 earned runs on just 35 hits and an amazingly low 9 base on balls. Lincecum was 4-1 in June, striking out 48 batters over that stretch while keeping an era of 1.48 and a WHIP of 0.90. "The Franchise" either leads or is in the top-3 in all major categories for NL starting pitchers. He's second in innings pitched and era to only Dan Haren, and leads the NL in strikeouts, complete games and shutouts which gives you an idea on just how dominant he's been compared to the rest of the league. He also took the era lead on his own team for the first time all year with his most recent outing, as he's now 20 points better than Matt Cain 's 2.57 mark.
The bullpen wasn't really needed in Monday night's game, but they did shut the door on the Cards for Randy Johnson on Tuesday. The "Big Unit" improved his record to 8-5, as he went 5 1/3 allowing 3 runs on 4 hits while striking out 3 batters. It wasn't his best outing on the year, but it was another solid, winning effort for the Giants 45 year-old legend. Johnson has been improving as the year goes on as well. The lanky lefty went 4-1 in June, sporting a 3.25 era, a 1.14 WHIP and a .218 BAA. However, he got plenty of help on Tuesday, as the Giants bullpen provided 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. Jeremy Affeldt, who's arguably been the Giants best reliever, went another 2 scoreless frames, dropping his season era to 1.48. Brian Wilson also came up big on Tuesday, as he came in in the eighth inning in order to get his 21st save on the year (good for second in the NL).
In addition to the great pitching, the Giants have been having little trouble scoring runs over the last 4 games. In fact, the Giants have scored 29 runs in those last four games, and Bruce Bochy  may finally be figuring out which lineups are working well. Lately, it's been the lineup with Nate Schierholtz and Travis Ishikawa in it. Both Ishikawa and Schierholtz have been a big part of the teams' last few victories. We've talked about Schierholtz plenty here over the last couple of weeks, as he hit .375 with 3 homers and 8 RBI in 64 at-bats in June. He did most of that damage towards the end of the month too, as he really wasn't playing to often at the beggining. Ishikawa hasn't necessarily been tearing the cover off the ball as of late, but he's coming up with clutch hits and driving in runs when he's got the opportunity. The Giants' young first basemen has 4 home runs and 10 RBI's in his last 10 games, and had a homer and 5 RBI in the Giants last 3 wins. He's really turned it on lately, and although his numbers for the year pale in comparison to most NL first basemen, his numbers over the last few weeks don't.
Trade Talk: The newest player to be mentioned in the Giants' on-going search for a bat is Bay Area native Jermaine Dye. KNBR reported on Tuesday that the Giants had some people in Chicago watching the Cubs-White Sox series over the weekend. Dye would be ideal for the Giants, as he's a right-handed power bat who can play a good right field and help them beyond this year. He's not quite a spring chicken at age 35, but he's one of those types of athletes that will probably be plenty successful into his late 30's, so I wouldn't really worry about age with Dye. I still wouldn't give up Bumgarner or Alderson or any of the teams top-5 prospects, but for the right price, I think Dye could be a nice fit for the Giants for now.
Trevor Cole The Giants Baseball Blog