Tim Lincecum was all smiles before the game tonight (7/20). Last night he was given a standing ovation from the dugout by the fans who still wear his #55 and live and die with every pitch he throws.
Lincecum is scheduled to start Monday night, and has said he’s ready to go after the 148- pitch no-hitter he threw on 7/13 against the Padres.
In the meantime, the Giants need a good home-stand to put them back on track for a post-season run. They started a new streak with a win against the Diamondbacks on Friday. But they are still 5.5 games behind Arizona and in fourth place in the NL West.
Lincecum was the focus of trade rumor talks well before the no-hit performance. But that may have only increased his value, if the Giants consider themselves “sellers.” The Giants’ front-office was quick this week to say they expect Lincecum to remain a Giant until the end of the season.
But you never know what might get dangled in front of the decision makers.
Judging from Lincecum’s pre-game demeanor tonight, the Asian American ace is staying loose and not letting any speculation spoil his post-no-hitter mood.
On his 7th day of service in the major leagues, Kensuke Tanaka pinch-hit in the 8th, but grounded into a fielder’s choice.
Sergio Romo came out in 9th and gave up a run, but got former teammate Cody Ross to strike out and end the game.
With 4-3 victory, Giants take first two from NL West leading Diamondbacks, and will try to sweep the series on Sunday when the Giants’ real ace, Madison Bumgarner goes to the mound.
UPDATE: 7/21/13 9:30PM
The Giants couldn’t complete the sweep against the Diamondbacks, and lost the third game in the series, 3-1, despite a great performance from their de facto ace, Madison Bumgarner.
Coincidentally, it was poor outfield play by left fielder Kensuke Tanaka at the start of the game that resulted in the first DB run, and that held up for most of the game.
Tanaka’s eighth day of service turned out to be not so great. The first-inning play was just the first of two that exposed him for being a converted infielder playing the outfield. Another play, a ball in which Tanaka seemed to get a late jump, turned into a double, but did not end up costing a run. A third play, a base-running gaffe, saw Tanaka get thrown out at second after trying to advance on a misthrow to first. It stifled a last inning rally that seemed to be developing for the Giants.
Later, Giants skipper Bruce Bochy told the media Tanaka’s first inning episode was a matter of poor defensive positioning and not his inability to play outfield. But I doubt if anyone in the front-office is considering Tanaka the solution to their left field needs.
The loss did keep the Dodgers from taking over first place from Arizona. LA beat the Nationals and were poised to take over if the Giants won. But that didn’t happen. LA is a half-game behind the Diamondbacks. The Giants remain in 4th, 5.5 games off the lead.
Still, the vibe is positive as Tim Lincecum takes the mound Monday night against the Cincinnati Reds. It’s the first start since Lincecum’s 148-pitch No-Hitter week from Saturday in San Diego.
Though a longshot, there’s always the possibility of a back-to-back no-hitter. Johnny Vander Meer did it 75 years ago on June 11 and then June 15. It’s the only time it has ever been done. And Vander Meer’s team? The Cincinnati Reds.
Are the stars aligned this week? Lincecum has looked good in his two starts prior to the no-hitter. In fact, he lost to the Reds when Homer Bailey no-hit the Giants on July 2nd.
I’m not worried about the 148-pitch count. Lincecum is well rested, and seems to have his confidence back in spades.
B2B no-hitters requires a lot of luck, especially with catching teams at the right time. The Reds are 5-5 the last ten games and just lost a close one at home to the Pirates Sunday. And now they’re back Monday night? The tired, jet-lagged, time-shifted visitors may need some time to get used to the road, which means Lincecum is likely to have success keeping hitters off-balance with his fastball and change-up. Lincecum got the Padres to whiff in his no-hitter. And that should continue with the Reds.
There are a lot of positives going for Lincecum on Monday that say this is as good a time as there’s ever been for a back-to-back.
Besides, I figure there’s more than a few of his Filipino fans saying multiple rosaries hoping for something special on Monday night.