Just a few days ago, the All-Star break had to look pretty enticing for the Giants. They dropped five of six in a homestand for the first time in three years and traveled south to San Diego at 10 games under .500.
As Sunday, the final day before the break, approached, San Francisco started playing its best baseball in weeks, capped off by Tim Lincecum's no-hitter on Saturday, the 15th in club history. As the Giants attempt to close out the first half with a four-game sweep Sunday, they'll do it with a new face: Jeff Francoeur.
Franceour, along with activated Giants reliever Santiago Casilla, joined the club Saturday. Manager Bruce Bochy indicated Franceour would be in his starting lineup Sunday.
The Giants are hoping to catch lightning in a bottle with Franceour as they did in 2010 with Pat Burrell. After the Rays released Burrell early in '10, the struggling outfielder signed with the Giants and played admirably in the World Series-winning season.
"If I hit, I'll play against some righties, too," said Franceour, who added that the move has rejuvenated him. "But, that's up to me. That's something I have to take care of. I'm excited for the opportunity."
The first opportunity comes against Padres southpaw Eric Stults.
Giants: Zito follows Lincecum's no-no
For San Francisco's Sunday starter, Barry Zito, the focus isn't on throwing a no-hitter, it's on simply providing a quality outing on the road.
Zito has yet to record a quality start in seven road starts. He's lost five of those starts and has a 9.38 ERA away from home. Conversely, Zito's record at home is 4-1 to go along with a 2.45 ERA.
Zito allowed six runs (one earned) in a brief 3 2/3 innings outing at Petco Park on April 27.
On Zito's side, however, is the Padres' recent struggles at the plate. San Diego has lost 18 of 21 games, and much of that is due to an unproductive offense. The club hasn't reached a double-digit run total since May 25 and has amassed just three runs in three games this series.
Padres: Stults successful at home
The Padres are 7-1 in Stults' last nine starts at Petco Park. On Tuesday, he tossed his second complete game of the season when he allowed just one run against Colorado. It's San Diego's only win in its last 15 games.
Over his last 13 starts, he's 5-5 with a 2.89 ERA while yielding a .233 opponents' average and 49 strikeouts with just 19 walks.
Against the Giants, however, Stults has not been so successful. In three starts against San Francisco, Stults is 0-1 with a 6.23 ERA in 17 1/3 innings.
• Buster Posey became the first Giants catcher to be on the receiving end of two no-hitters.
• The Padres have now been no-hit victims eight times, but are the only Major League club to never record a no-hitter. Lincecum's gem was the first no-hit performance by any pitcher in Petco Park history.
• Lincecum's 148 pitches marked the most by a Giants pitcher since Vida Blue tossed 153 in an outing in 1979.