Mike Kickham is hoping his second major league start will be significantly better than the first.
The left-hander matches up with another rookie starter in Stephen Fife on Tuesday night as the San Francisco Giants visit the Los Angeles Dodgers.The Giants are recalling Kickham (0-1, 15.43 ERA) from Triple-A Fresno for the second time this season to start in place of the injured Chad Gaudin, who was placed on the disabled list Monday due to a bruised throwing elbow."I kind of know what to expect," Kickham told the team's official website. "Having been there before will benefit me."Making a spot start in place of the then-injured Madison Bumgarner, Kickham needed 65 pitches May 28 at Oakland to get through 2 1/3 innings of a 6-3 defeat. He gave up four runs, four walks and four hits while striking out three."He showed good stuff early," manager Bruce Bochy said after the 24-year-old Kickham retired five of the first six batters he faced. "I'm sure he was amped up and then he got behind hitters but I liked what he showed. It's his first outing and that's always one to put behind you."Like Kickham, Fife (1-2, 3.25) initially only received a shot this season because of a teammate's injury. He made an emergency start in place of Chad Billingsley on April 21, but was shelled by Baltimore for four runs in 4 2/3 innings. Another opportunity arrived in the form of an injury to Chris Capuano -- leading to a start versus San Diego on June 3 -- and Fife capitalized this time.He owns a 2.35 ERA in four starts since being recalled a second time. His sub-.500 record is largely due to a total of four runs of support in those games.Fife's only game against the Giants came in his second major league start, and it may have been the best of his brief career. He didn't get a decision but allowed one run over 6 1/3 innings in a 5-3 win at San Francisco on July 27.The Dodgers (33-42) won Monday's series opener 3-1, relying on more heroics from Yaisel Puig as they matched a season high with their third straight win.Puig connected for his seventh homer in the first inning and later broke a tie with an RBI single in the eighth, improving to 34 for 77 (.442) with 14 RBIs in his first 20 games."The league's trying to figure him out and they're trying to see what the best way to approach him is," Los Angeles catcher A.J. Ellis said. "But he's making them go back and scratch their heads a lot, because he's hitting everything and hitting it hard."Though the Giants saw Pablo Sandoval go 2 for 4 in his first game in over two weeks after being out with a strained left foot, it was one of the few positives on a dreary day for San Francisco (38-38), which fell to .500 for the first time since April 7.The club announced Angel Pagan, who hasn't played since May 25, will undergo surgery Tuesday on his left hamstring and could miss the rest of the season.Even Monday's lone run came with a price. Joaquin Arias scored from first in the second inning on Andres Torres' double but strained his left hamstring and exited the game.Los Angeles won four or more consecutive games seven times last season and four times by June 25.
Check out how Puig's first 20 games compare to what resident phenoms Mike Trout and Bryce Harper produced in their first 20. It's not even close: both Harper and Trout were batting .230 at this point. Puig's 7 homers and 14 RBI are more than the two produced combined.