SAN FRANCISCO -- For his 25th birthday, Brandon Belt got a surprise start against the Padres this evening. Belt wasn't in the Giants' original lineup against Padres left-hander Clayton Richard -- Joaquin Arias had the start at first. But the Padres scratched Richard with illness and will start right-hander Andrew Cashner instead. So the Giants shuffled their lineup, with Belt replacing Arias and Gregor Blanco starting in left field instead of Andres Torres.
"Sure they're thinking they're facing somebody, but (the Padres) made the change before batting practice," manager Bruce Bochy said of his hitters. "They know who they're facing, so it's not really an adjustment."
Word from the Padres media contingent is that Cashner, who has been pitching in relief, probably won't throw more than about 60 pitches. So it'll most likely be a bullpen game for San Diego. Arias and Torres will likely get starts tomorrow, with the Padres throwing left-hander Eric Stults.
Here's the full Giants lineup:
And the Padres' lineup against Lincecum:
* The Giants, somewhat remarkably, are trying to improve to 4-0 in Lincecum's starts this season. Lincecum has pitched 16 innings in those three starts, allowed 10 earned runs and a total of 25 baserunners, but is 1-0. As has been the case with Lincecum, Bochy said the key for the right-hander tonight will be commanding his fastball and staying out of big innings.
"You take away the one inning, he's been throwing the ball well," Bochy said. "That's what we're looking for more than anything is try to give us a quality start, give us a chance. We like the way he's bounced back off those innings and he's thrown the ball well after that."
Bochy said he hasn't noticed anything mechanically different from Lincecum when he is getting into trouble, and hypothesized it's about focus more than anything -- avoiding the mistake pitches that hitters end up taking advantage of. For the most part, Lincecum's off-speed pitches have been good -- he has struck out 15 in 16 innings.
* Lincecum will throw to Buster Posey tonight for the first time this season. Bochy said Posey could get a day off from catching tomorrow, but he won't be out of the lineup.
"We'll see how the game goes tonight," Bochy said. "He's going to play somewhere tomorrow."
* Bochy said he expects Jeremy Affeldt, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday with an oblique strain, will be ready to return after the 15 days.
"It seems like he's making a lot of improvement," Bochy said. "So I'll be honest, I'll be surprised if it takes longer than 15."
Bochy used left-hander Jose Mijares to get one out against a lefty last night and Santiago Casilla faced three left-handed batters, including two switch-hitters. Bochy said he's also confident in George Kontos to face lefties if needed.
-- Matt Kawahara