San Francisco Giants

Pagan, Posey rest as Giants go for sweep of Mets

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants will go for a sweep of the Mets today without their leadoff hitter or MVP catcher in the lineup. Angel Pagan and Buster Posey are both getting the day off. Manager Bruce Bochy said it’s a normal rest day for both, though Pagan did "bang up" his leg a little sliding into home to score the tying run in the ninth inning of the Giants’ 5-4 win on Saturday night.

Pagan had nearly his entire right leg wrapped as he made his way through the clubhouse after Saturday night’s game. Bochy said Pagan still could have played today, but it was a good chance to give Pagan some rest. That has been a priority this season when possible with Pagan coming off his injury last year.

"I think it’s already shown it’s paid dividends when he gets a day," Bochy said. "He goes really hard when he goes."

Bochy said he talked with Pagan early in the season about keeping the coaches informed on how he’s feeling, and that Pagan has "done a good job of that," though Bochy clarified the decision to rest the center fielder today was Bochy’s alone.

"It’s not easy for a player to tell a manager, hey, I need a day, but I told him to just be honest with me," Bochy said. "This is what’s best for you, the club, and everybody."

So it’s Gregor Blanco leading off and playing center today against Mets right-hander and former Giants prospect Zack Wheeler. Here’s the full Giants lineup:

CF Blanco

RF Pence

3B Sandoval

1B Morse

C Sanchez

LF Colvin

SS Crawford

2B Hicks

P Lincecum

And the Mets’ lineup against Lincecum:

CF den Dekker

SS Tejada

2B Murphy

RF Granderson

LF Young

1B Duda

3B Campbell

C Recker

P Wheeler.

* At 41-21, the Giants have matched the 1962 team for the franchise’s best 62-game start since moving to San Francisco. They’ve also build a 9 ½-game lead over the Dodgers in the West, including 10 games in the loss column, the largest current lead of any division leader in baseball. But Bochy said he isn’t looking at standings -- and that the Giants’ hot start isn’t making him more willing to give players like Pagan and Posey days off.

"We’re in June, and we’re going to play like we normally would," Bochy said. "You do think, keep them fresh as you can so they’re ready to go in August and September, too. But I’ve got to do what’s right, right now."

* Giants fans no doubt still remember the trade that sent Wheeler to New York for Carlos Beltran, which the Giants made in hopes of jump-starting another playoff run in 2011 that ultimately didn’t materialize. Wheeler cracked the Mets’ rotation last season and so far in 2014 is 2-5 with a 3.89 ERA in 12 starts -- although he has posted a 1.37 ERA in his last three starts and is averaging a strikeout per inning for the season, good for the eighth-best rate among National League starters.

Bochy said he didn’t get to see much of Wheeler before the Giants traded him, but it’s clear Wheeler has improved his secondary pitches over the past seasons to complement his power fastball. "He’s got a lot of confidence going," Bochy said. "It looks like he’s just getting better and better, and we’ve got our work cut out for us today."

* Lincecum, meanwhile, is coming off arguably his worst outing of the year -- eight runs and six hits in 4 1/3 innings against the Reds on June 3. It upped his ERA to 5.01, making him one of just eight qualifying pitchers in the majors with an ERA above 5.00. He has pitched better at home this season, though (a 3.76 ERA, compared to 6.84 on the road), and is facing a team he’s had plenty of success against in recent seasons. In his last six starts against the Mets, Lincecum is 5-0 with a 1.32 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 41 innings.

* Day baseball seems to agree with the Giants -- they’re 17-6 this year in day games, the best record in the majors. First pitch less than an hour away.