Lincecum cruising as Giants take early Game 5 lead

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Giants fans couldn’t have asked for a better start.

The remaining members of the San Francisco-based Grateful Dead belted out the National Anthem in style, starter Tim Lincecum retired the Phillies in order in the first inning and the rain that settled over AT&T Park during pregame festivities was light and nonthreatening.

Then Andres Torres drew a walk against Phillies ace Roy Halladay in the bottom of the first inning, Freddy Sanchez followed with a single and Torres scored moments later when rookie catcher Buster Posey grounded into a fielder’s choice.

Lincecum came out in the top of the second and again established his dominance, striking out both Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth before inducing a groundout from Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins.  “The Freak” has held opposing hitters to a .228/.301/.326 batting line in 123 career games at home and is looking awfully comfortable out there tonight.

Halladay, meanwhile, has already reached 43 pitches in two innings of work.

In a game that features two of baseball’s top pitchers, a 1-0 lead might mean big things.  That’s exactly what the Giants have as this NLCS Game 5 moves to the third.

Sandy Leon homered twice in one inning, including a grand slam

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Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon achieved a rare feat during Monday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition against the Orioles: he homered twice in one inning. One of those homers happened to be a grand slam.

Leon led off the top of the fifth inning with a solo home run off of Logan Verrett. Verrett continued to get knocked around, giving up three singles and a walk before being relieved by Brian Moran. Moran gave up a walk to load the bases, then a single to knock in a run and keep the bases loaded. Leon stepped back to the plate and swatted a grand slam to left field, making it an eight-run fifth for the Red Sox. The Sox would tack on one more before the inning was mercifully ended.

How often do players homer twice in one inning during the regular season? Not that often. Since 2010, the feat has been accomplished four times in the American League and twice in the National League. The Orioles’ Mark Trumbo was the only one to do it last year.

As for Leon, he’s on track to open the season as the starting catcher in Boston, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reported last week.

Phillies release veteran catchers Ryan Hanigan and Bryan Holaday

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The Phillies announced on Monday that the club released veteran catchers Ryan Hanigan and Bryan Holaday. Both were competing for the back-up catcher spot on the team’s 25-man roster. With both out of the picture, that means Andrew Knapp has won that honor.

Knapp, 25, hit a combined .266/.330/.390 with eight home runs and 46 RBI in 443 plate appearances last year at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He did not have a great spring but has hit well as of late, which likely pushed him ahead of Hanigan and Holaday. Knapp will serve as the understudy to starting catcher Cameron Rupp.