Tim Lincecum’s spring troubles worrisome

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Tim Lincecum gave up five runs in three innings of work against the Oakland Athletics this afternoon, raising his spring ERA to 10.97 and his WHIP to 2.25. Coming off a season in which he finished with a 5.18 ERA in 33 starts, Lincecum’s performance thus far has not given anybody reason for optimism.

CSN Bay Area’s Andrew Baggarly reports that neither Lincecum nor his manager are particularly worried, even with a possibility the Giants right-hander joins his team after the regular season begins:

Bochy said Lincecum was “just off today” but didn’t express much outward concern, saying he was encouraged by the right-hander’s previous two outings.

I asked Bochy: Is there a good chance Lincecum could stay back when camp breaks and face minor leaguers rather than pitch against the A’s on Thursday at China Basin?

“We haven’t talked about that,” Bochy said. “Have him throw a bullpen and go back out there. That’s what you do. Today, he was out of sync. It was obvious from the start.”

Fortunately for the Giants, they have two of the better starters in the game in Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner, so they won’t be set too far behind by Lincecum’s lagging performance. This is an important season for Lincecum as he is eligible for free agency after the season.

Astros clinch postseason berth with 11-3 win over Angels

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No surprise here: The Astros are headed back to the postseason to defend their title following a landslide 11-3 win over the Angels on Friday. This figures to be their third playoff run since 2015, though they have yet to wrap up the AL West with a division title.

First baseman Yuli Gurriel led the charge on Friday, smashing a grand slam in the first inning and tacking on a two-run homer in the second and RBI single in the fifth to help the Astros to a seven-run lead. The Angels eventually returned fire, first with Mike Trout‘s 418-foot homer in the sixth, then with an RBI hit from Francisco Arcia in the seventh, but they couldn’t close the gap in time to overtake the Astros.

On the mound, right-hander Gerrit Cole clinched his 15th win of the year after holding the Angels to seven innings of three-run, 12-strikeout ball. His sixth strikeout of the night — delivered on an 83.1-MPH knuckle curveball to Kaleb Cowart — also marked the 1,000th strikeout of his career to date. He was backed by flawless performances by lefty reliever Tony Sipp and rookie right-hander Dean Deetz, both of whom turned in scoreless innings as the offense barreled toward an 11-3 finish with Jake Marisnick‘s sac bunt and George Springer‘s three-run shot in the eighth.

Despite having qualified for the playoffs, the Astros still carry a magic number of 6 as they look to clinch a third straight division title. They’re currently up against the Athletics, who entered Friday’s contest against the Twins just four games back of first place in the AL West.