It was Opening Day of this season, with the former starting for the Giants and the latter for the D-backs, and each was trying to build off an excellent 2011. Kennedy broke out for a 21-win season, and though Lincecum's 13-14 record wasn't up to his usual high standards, he still recorded a tidy 2.74 ERA.
But 2012 has proven to be a different story for the two pitchers. Lincecum gave up five runs in that Opening Day start and has continued to struggle since, entering Wednesday's game with a 6.41 ERA. Kennedy has fared slightly better overall but has lost five straight starts, and he doesn't look like the same dominant hurler from a year ago.
San Francisco and Arizona, the last two champions of the National League West, will need their top arms to return to form to make a run back to the playoffs. They can only hope that their respective righties start to turn it around when they face off in Wednesday's series finale between the two clubs.
Winners of the first two games of the series after pulling out a comeback 3-1 victory Tuesday, the Giants can nail their first series sweep of the year by topping the D-backs for the third straight day. In order to do so, they'll need Lincecum to stop succumbing to the same problems that have plagued him all year.
It seemed Lincecum had figured it out in his last start, as he held Miami to two hits and a run over his first five innings. But then he again broke down with runners on base and again failed to keep his curveball out of the middle of the plate. The result was a five-run sixth inning for the Marlins and another failed outing for Lincecum.
"Hopefully we can turn the page on these 10 starts and start in on these next 23," Lincecum said after his last start.
Kennedy lasted just 5 2/3 innings and gave up four runs his last time out against the Brewers. Wednesday will mark the 27-year-old's last start of May, and he's plenty ready to turn the calendar over to June -- Kennedy is 0-5 with a 6.00 ERA this month.
Giants: Cabrera going for record
Left fielder Melky Cabrera has been on an absolute tear in May, and after collecting three hits in Tuesday night's win, Cabrera needs just one more Wednesday to tie the club record for hits in a single month since the organization relocated to San Francisco. Randy Winn holds that distinction, having tallied 51 hits in September 2005.
Cabrera passed the legendary Willie Mays for the Giants' San Francisco-era record for hits in the month of May with his effort Tuesday, but if you ask Giants manager Bruce Bochy, Cabrera's play is reminiscent of a different all-time great.
"He reminds me of a good player I've played with, and his name is Tony Gwynn," Bochy said. "That's how well he's played, and that's a compliment. We're talking about one of the greatest players of the game."
First baseman Brandon Belt has been Cabrera's polar opposite this month, having hit just .217 in May. But Belt watched video of himself to re-examine his swing and decided to go back to the more open, upright stance he used in the Minor Leagues. The change seems to be paying off, albeit in a small sample size: Belt blasted an RBI triple in Monday's game and looked more comfortable at the plate in drawing walks in each of his two at-bats Tuesday.
D-backs: Bloomquist expected to return to lineup
D-backs manager Kirk Gibson decided to sit shortstop Willie Bloomquist on Tuesday due to leg soreness after consulting with head athletic trainer Ken Crenshaw, but said he expected Bloomquist to play Wednesday.
"It's proactive on my part," Gibson said. "He's fine. Just trying to be smart about it. It's nothing serious at this point."
Bloomquist has been a clutch hitter for Arizona so far this year. He came into Tuesday ranking third in the National League in hitting with runners in scoring position, holding a .419 (13-for-31) mark.
After going 1-for-4 in Tuesday's loss, first baseman Paul Goldschmidt carries an eight-game hitting streak into Wednesday's series finale. Goldschmidt has gone 11-for-28 (.393) in that span and has seen his overall batting average rise from .223 to .257.
Arizona third baseman Josh Bell, expected to get most of the playing time on the hot corner since being called up from Triple-A earlier this month, has instead been eased into the lineup. Bell has been working on his defense with infield coach Matt Williams, who won four Gold Gloves at third base during his career.
After Wednesday's game, Arizona and San Francisco won't meet until the month of September, when the two teams will play three series. The season slate is currently tied, 4-4, with the Giants winning four games in a row to even it up.