Archive for category SF Giants
World Series Updates: Madison Bumgarner is Game 7 Superman, carries San Francisco Giants to 3rd World Series championship in 5 years; Pre-game 7: Who wants to win this odd “Bi-Polar” World Series? UPDATE: Game 6 washout just a prelude to Game 7, as Royals humiliate SF Giants; UPDATE-World Series Game 5: Giants win, 5-0 as Royals are “Bumgarnered” again; quick someone name a candy bar or something after him; Pre-World Series Game 5: Remember just 10 days ago? Madison Bumgarner today on all the rest he needs; 10/25/14: World Series Game 4 comeback–SF out small balls Kansas City Royals.
UPDATE/GAME 7 8:23pm 10/29/14
Blanco made it tight on the 9th inning error, but Madison Bumgarner is World Series super. On the 68th pitch, he made history. Madison Bumgarner is the most Giant Giant.
That Gordon single/triple was worrisome, especially with the dangerous Perez up to bat. But the Royals couldn’t solve Bumgarner and kept chasing the high pitches until that final foul pop to Panda ended the game.
Fitting that the last out be fielded by Panda, as it may be Sandoval’s last game as a Giant.
What are we going to do with all the Panda hats?
But we’ll save that answer for the front office. This was a real special team. It looked lost in June. They came back to just squeak into the post-season. They had to get by several key injuries. But the core they needed to win was there.
Once again, they are the best team in baseball.
Except for that last hit by Gordon that Lorenzo Cain might have turned into an inside the park homer, the defense was impeccable. (The Panik glove toss 4-6-3 double play in the third was amazing).
And the offense was the made-to-order variety. They did it in the second, when Sandoval led off hit by a pitch. Pence and Belt both singled to load the bases with one out. Morse’s sac fly drove in Sandoval. And Crawford’s fly got home Pence. Two outs produced two runs. Why not? Who needs home runs?
Kansas City tied it up in their half of the second in almost an identical way.
But the Giants came back in the fourth inning. Panda led off with a single of Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie. Then Pence singled to center, followed by a Belt sacrifice fly to advance the runners. That chased Guthrie out of the game and in came Kelvin Herrera in relief. But Morse greeted the fresh Herrera with an RBI single for the third, and ultimately, the winning run.
Jeremy Affeldt, who came in relief after Giants starter Tim Hudson left after two, managed the 3rd and 4th innings. And after that it was all Bumgarner. I had just seen him on Sunday pitch 117 pitches in a complete game shutout. I thought he might go a few innings. Maybe the 5th and 6th, and then leave it to the bullpen. But after the 6th, he was in for the 7th, the 8th, and what the heck, why not the 9th.
In all, he pitched 5 innings, gave up 2 hits, no runs, struck out 4, walked none.in a virtuoso 68 pitch performance.
And that’s how you win a third championship in five years, with a special and historic game 7.
UPDATE/ GAME 7, 10/29/14 9am
As the Giants try to be the “every other” year team, they are frustrating everyone by being great “every other” day. Champs in Games 1, 4, 5. Chumps in Games 2,3, 6.
The converse is true for the Royals. So really what we have here is one odd “Bi-Polar” World Series of Baseball, where the only thing that Bruce Bochy says that makes sense is “they’re human.”
Yes, and not machines. Not bots. Not baseball apps that perform on demand. Take your stats and shove it. You can’t press go and get a champion 3 hours later.
That’s why God gave us the 7th game. Even he was done in 7.
And this will be too.
I still think the Giants have a slight edge. Just because they’ve done elimination games and consistently responded. But the crowd is definitely a factor, and tens of thousands of blue-clad fans starved for a victory can motivate or crush you, depending on whether you wear blue.
Pshaw, you say. All that momentum stuff is bull. So let’s hope the Giants got a good night sleep. And that Tim Hudson has a good 4-5 innings in him. And then MadBum enters in the 4th.
And that the Giants stick to plan and manufacture runs. Lead off man on, move him into scoring position. Then bunt, sacrifice, get that runner home.
Rinse, repeat. Do it once for the first 5 innings.
5-0 in the 4th or 5th. Bring on Bumgarner. Let him close it. Bring on Casilla.
Leave Strickland. Let Timmy warm-up to make fans go crazy back home.
That’s your recipe. Parade on Halloween where everything’s orange.
I dreamt it. After a 10-0 loss, anything is possible.
Maybe we’ll see the oldest man ever to start a series win it all for the road team.
UPDATE/ WORLD SERIES GAME 6, 10/28/14 9pm
They cried “MVP” after Bumgarner’s masterpiece on Sunday in San Francisco.
But MVP actually described the Giants demise in Kansas City on Tuesday.
Miscues. Ventura. Peavy, or just pitching, in general.
Miscues hurt in the field. Ventura quieted the Giants’ hitting. And the Giants’ pitching just wasn’t very effective.
This game was all, and I mean ALL KC, 10-0.
SF starter Jake Peavy was battling from the first inning. Not a good sign. With two outs, he gave up a walk to Lorenzo Cain, and then Hosmer singled to left. Travis Ishikawa showed his inexperience in the outfield by slipping as he fielded the ball, then threw to the wrong base. Fortunately, the Royals didn’t score that time, as Peavy got Butler to ground out to short.
But it was just a hint of what was to come.
In the Royals’ 2nd, Peavy faced six batters. Gordon singled to left. Perez then singled to right. Mike Moustakas followed with a double to score Gordon to give the Royals a 1-0 lead.
Peavy stuck out Omar Infante swinging, to build some confidence.
But here’s where the miscues came in. Once again, it was a softly hit ball in the infield by the Royals’ Alcides Escobar. First baseman Brandon Belt fielded it, but appeared to listen to Peavy who seemed to yell to throw home.
Belt did what he was supposed to do, check the runner at third. But Peavy’s communication delayed Belt’s next move, which should have been to flip the ball to Joe Panik covering 1st. But the batter Escobar was too fast. Belt tried to beat him to the bag. But by then everyone was safe, leaving the bases loaded with just 1 out.
Peavy had to get the next Royal batter, Nori Aoki. Peavy got two strikes on Aoki, but then gave up a single to left, driving in another Royal run.
Not that bad. But had Escobar and Aoki made outs, the Giants would have been out of the inning down just 2-0.
It was that miscue by Belt and Peavy.
“I thought that changed that inning,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy after the game. “(Peavy) gets an out there, he has a better chance of getting out of the inning.”
Instead, Bochy brought Yusmeiro Petit in to do what he does. Shutdown the other team.
But it didn’t happen tonight. Lorenzo Cain, on yet another soft hit by a Royal, singled to center. That scored two runs, and made it 4-0.
Petit was not sharp on this night and threw a WP, moving Cain to second. Eric Hosmer then hit a grounder that hit off the hard dirt in front of the plate, it was like a “Kansas City Chop.” The ball bounced over shortstop Brandon Crawford’s head and found some shallow ground in left. It was a fluky kind of “nothing is going right, we should have stayed in bed” kind of play. Good for a double, and scored Aoki and Cain.
Six? Yes, that made it six.
Petit never got settled and gave up another double to Butler (this one on a fly to center) scoring Hosmer.
That made it 7. And the game really was done.
The Giants seemed to feign a comeback in the third. The Royals’ Yordano Ventura was on his game, throwing in the high 90s the first two innings. But he was a bit wild after the big inning, walking three straight Giants. But with Posey up and one out, the hopes of a rally died with a 6-3 double play.
The Giants let Machi, Strickland, and Vogelsong eat up the innings, saving the bullpen for the big day on Wednesday.
So there will be a Game 7. And this is what they mean when they talk about Game 6 being a do or die game for the team with a 3-2 lead.
You lose on the road and rarely do you get a chance to rebound in Game 7.
The Giants know that feeling from the World Series with the Angels in 2002.
Maybe it’s different this time.
Game six would’ve been were it not for miscues, Ventura, and Peavy.
UPDATE/WORLD SERIES GAME 5 10/27/14 9AM
If you ever played youth baseball, then you know the phenomenon. There’s always one kid, much bigger, better and badder than all of us. For me in San Francisco’s Dolores Park, it was when we played Jackson Playground’s team and faced a pitcher whose last name was Dickson. He threw sidearm and fast and scared the hell out of all us 12 year-olds. He pitched. He batted. He was a man among boys. He was flat out great.
Right now, Madison Bumgarner is that kid.
He’s from another baseball world, playing with the rec league.
He’s bumgarnered the Royals but good.
From where I sat, his confidence never wavered from first pitch to last.
And there’s no league higher than Major League Baseball. On it’s largest stage he is showing there is no post-season pitcher who comes close to his domination. A micro-era in World Series play. Better than Babe Ruth. Remember him? They named a candy bar after him.
Someone better name something after Bumgarner
Because after Game Five of the 2014 World Series, everyone wants one.
I knew this game would be different during that 2nd inning.
Look, this is a pop-less World Series. No one hits home runs. Both teams play in parks where offense has to be manufactured on demand.
Lead off man gets on. You move him along. One or two productive outs later, you get a dinky hit. Touchdown! (Oops, wrong Sunday game).
You get the idea. No one goes for the fences. You hit on the ground, you bunt.
You go for the blades of grass.
So in the 2nd when Pence singled, and Belt BUNTED. I didn’t miss the signal.
It was a BUNT event. That’s what all that World Series bunting is for.
The Giants were going to play inning by inning. Scratch out runs. And let MadBum do the rest.
Belt’s bunt, followed by a sac fly by Ishikawa sac fly, moved two runners into scoring postion.
And then Crawford came up with a groundball out for an RBI.
This is the Giants blue print. Get your three runs on demand with OUTS.
Let your pitching and defense be flawless Let your outs win for you.
It is the pop-less offense. Giants-style.
LIFE AND DEATH
The Giants dealt with it in the beginning when the kids of Robin Williams were part of the ceremonial first pitch. Zak, threw the ball, while Williams’ half-Filipino kids, Zelda and Cody, watched.
It was followed with previous clips of Williams on the scoreboard, when he led the stadium in cheers.
Later in the game, the fresh news of Oscar Taveras’ death was a definite reality check for everyone.
Some of the Cardinal rookie’s best days were against the Giants. His major league debut, a home run in his second at bat vs. the Giants in St. Louis. Taveras hit another home run just recently vs. the Giants in game 2 of the NLCS.
OK, who remembers ten days ago?
There he was the human spittoon and snot dispenser, with that strange left handed delivery that has stymied batters all post-season.
In another Game 5, the NLCS, he was mowing down Cardinals (8 IP, 5h, 3R, 5K).
But he needed a little help from Travis Ishikawa who provide the walk off.
Here’s Madbum dealing on that day.
It’s another Game 5. It’s the World Series. It’s tied at two games. It’s also the final game in 2014 at AT&T. Will he have the stuff it takes to win today?
With a rejuvenated Giants’ offense, more Madbum Magic today, that would make quite a sendoff for the road warriors who can win it all in the heartland.
UPDATES TO COME…see the twitter feed on the right sidebar.
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10/25/14 9pm pdt
If Kansas City was feeling prematurely Royal, the Giants dispelled all that with a convincing 11-4 pounding to even up the World Series at two games a piece.
The Giants, who had looked anemic and craved offense, finally woke up and pounded out 16 hits. Not in a month, but the same game. The hits weren’t big blasts, just timely blows that helped them scratch and claw early and often.
This was a game about small ball dominance.
The Giants scored in the first on an infield hit from Hunter Pence, that drove in Gregor Blanco.
Ryan Vogelsong, who thank goodness was not Madison Bumgarner on short rest, was unlikely to hold that slim lead against the Royals.
And in fact, he didn’t.
In the third, KC showed their own small ball chops, sent 10 men to the plate and scored four runs after two were out.
It was the middle of the order of Gordon, Cain and Hosmer who chipped away to tie on an infield chip. But it set the table for more,, as Infante delivered a two-run single, and Sal Perez added another RBI single to make it 4-1.
Jean Machi came in to relieve Vogelsong. But the Royals were having fun now. They even smiled for the cameras when pitcher Jason Vargas forgot the count on his 3-2 at bat and headed toward first.
It was a human mistake. Forgetting the count. But while the Royals chuckled, it was somewhat embarrassing for the Giants.
Vargas returned to the plate. Machi gained his composure. And struck him out.
That may have been the beginning of the spark the Giants needed.
Matt Duffy, pinch hitting for Machi, led off the bottom of the third with a single, and scored when Buster Posey singled. Pence singled as well. But with two runners on Pablo Sandoval struck out, and the Giants were still down 4-2.
Yusmeiro Petit, who was the night’s winning pitcher, came out and retired the tough part of the Royals in the 4th and 5th, allowing one hit and striking out two.
Petit’s middle inning stoppage seemed to rally the Giants, who themselves sent seven batters in the bottom of the fifth. Panik led off with a double and scored on a Pence single off KC pitcher Jason Frasor, who had replaced Vargas.
But then Ned Yost went with lefty Danny Duffy in order to exploit Sandoval’s right-handed batting weakness.
Sandoval promptly singled to left. Belt followed with a walk. And the bases were loaded for Juan Perez who tied the game with a sacrifice fly to center field scoring Pence.
4-4. New game.
And we weren’t even to the all important 6th inning.
Petit stayed in and retired the Royals in the top half of the frame with the help of a 3-6-3 double play.
And then the Giants in their half of the inning began to tee off against young Brandon Finnegan.
The lefty was like a Royals gift. The Giants scored three times in the 6th. And again the “Pablo can’t hit lefties” theory was tested, and this time Sandoval really delivered with a two run single giving the Giants a 7-4 lead.
And it wasn’t over. In the 7th, the Giants came back with a lead off infield hit from Crawford, a walk to Morse and then the Royals finally figured they should lift Finnegan.
In came lefty Tim Collins, who gave up a single to Blanco and then on came Joe Panik with a double to the gap in left center scoring Blanco and Morse.
Pence added another double and Panik scored.
Offense. It’s infectious.
The four runs seemed to be enough of a pad to bring out Hunter Strickland for a little encouragement and redemption in the 9th. He struck out Escobar, gave up a single to Gordon. But Pence made a good catch on a Cain fly, and a Hosmer groundout to Strickland ended Game 4.
What do you know. A small ball laugher.
The Giants now start Madison Bumgarner in the last game of the season at AT&T Park for Sunday’s Game 5.
It’s not an automatic win, but Madbum’s been dominant and is in KC’s head. If the Giants do win, all they need is a split on the return to KC.
That could be tough in the Royals home park with championship starved fans egging them on.
But the Giants have shown what they can do once when their backs are to the wall.
On this night they bounced back from a 4-1 deficit to not just win the game but to once again establish dominance and steal the momentum.
That’s a big boost going into another small ball chess match with the Royals.
UPDATED: World Series an anti-climax? SF Giants must top that Game 5 NLCS finish; Ishikawa home run legendary for so many reasons; And will we ever see Tim Lincecum again? UPDATED 10.21. WS-GAME ONE, MADBUM MAKES ROYALS LOOK PLEBEIAN; UPDATED 10.22. WS-GAME TWO–What a difference a Madbum makes; and a Lincecum sighting. UPDATED-10/23/GAME THREE BUZZ–KC PITCHER AND ISHIKAWA HAVE SOMETHING IN COMMON; UPDATED-10-24-GAME THREE IS A LOSS, BUT HERE’S HOW THE GIANTS CAN STILL WIN IT ALL IN 7.
(SEE UPDATES BELOW)
I am still buzzed about that dramatic home run by Travis Ishikawa. I wrote about it on the AALDEF blog here.
I was in the stadium that night and took this picture as Ishikawa was approaching home.
But notice the player in the left corner.
It’s Tim Lincecum, heretofore, the most incredible Asian American native born major league player of part-Filipino heritage ever.
He’s never been on the margins in his career. But he is now.
Lincecum hasn’t pitched an inning in the post-season. And in those times when his number would be called, it’s been someone else. Petit, most notably. But also Strickland. And the specialists like Lopez and Affeldt. Lincecum can’t get in the game. Manager Bruce Bochy has him slotted where he can be trusted. Top of a fresh inning where any damage due to Lincecum’s control issues can be minimal. But the longer Lincecum goes without pitching, you wonder how ready he’ll be for any situation. You kind of hope he doesn’t get in, because it means the Giants’ starter was ineffective, and the team is losing. Meanwhile between injured Cain’s $20 million a year, and ineffective Lincecum’s $17 million, that’s nearly $40 million on the Giants’ bench.
And the team’s still winning.
From having talked to Lincecum in the past, I know his attitude is, “I’ll pitch whenever they tell me.” He’s always positive; always a team guy. He’s never had his status fall like this. But I think, he’ll use this to come back stronger than ever.
I’ve always said he had an Eckersly like career arc forming. If he uses this period to get his mechanical issues straightened out, the man who never ices his arm, could find there’s a formidable second act in his future.
Just an odd thing to catch him on the edge of the frame, watching Ishikawa–who has never been a star, always a marginal guy. But in Game 5, he was the man of the hour. And for more than just baseball reasons. See the AALDEF blog for that story.
UPDATE GAME 3, 10/24/ 14 9PM ROYALS PLAY GIANT BASEBALL BETTER THAN GIANTS
The Royals play the game the Giants would like to play. Get your lead off runner on, move him along. Knock him in with a hit or productive out.
When Alcides Escobar led off the first with a double off Hudson, it set the tone. When the Royals scored the first run, it followed the blue print.
In the 6th, the pivotal inning in a bullpen series, the Royals did it again. After the pitcher Jeremy Guthrie ground out, Escobar took over with a single. He scored on a Gordon double, and Gordon scored on a Hosmer single (on a huge 11 pitch at-bat).
Those were the three runs, manufactured to plan. And the Giants couldn’t match it.
They tried in their half of the 6th on a pinch-hit double from Michael Morse that scored Brandon Crawford. But the Giants got little from the 3-4 batters tonight. Posey,who has yet to get an extra base hit in the series, had a groundout RBI. And then with Blanco on third, Pablo hit a grounder to first to end the threat.
That was it. The Giant’s defense kept them in the game. (Of note: Sandoval’s barehanded grab of a Hosmer infield bloop with a subsequent throw to first, worthy of being called a web gem, but he didn’t use a glove). And Hudson, pitching in his first World Series, performed well, at one time point retiring 12 in a row. But then came that 6th inning. And the Giants offense wasn’t able to deal with the Royals pen.
There’s talk of Madbum on short rest for Saturday. But why? Let Vogey and Petit get it done Saturday. Save Madbum for Sunday to go up 3-2. Then split in KC to win it all. That’s not the best plan,but it is a plan.
But things for the Giants in this series haven’t always gone to plan.
It’s a simple one. The pitching is good enough. So is the D. The O is a zero.
Get the lead off man on, move him along. It’s been easier for the Royals so far. And that’s why they lead the series, 2-1.
UPDATE/ Pre-game buzz GAME 3 10/23/ 9pm PDT More Lincecum; Guthrie and Ish
Giants Manager Bruce Bochy said Tim Lincecum was getting an MRI this afternoon, but added that the pitcher indicated he felt fine. Lincecum, the guy who doesn’t ice is arm, should be ready to be a bullpen weapon on Friday. Bochy said Lincecum has to feel confident about pitching, after his first appearance in 23 days on Wednesday. “I know we do,” added Bochy. “He could play a bigger role now, if he’s healthy.”
When I saw KC starter Jeremy Guthrie, I just knew the guy was at least half-Asian. Sure enough, his mother is Japanese American, born in Hawaii. Guthrie was born in Oregon, and went to BYU and Stanford. He is a fourth generation Japanese American.
He told the Japanese ball players blog that he speaks no Japanese, and has never visited Japan. But his favorite food is Shrimp Tempura. “I feel a strong tie with Japanese culture, but I don’t know why. I feel close to Japanese players,” he said. The blog added that Guthrie “feels there is a sense of “Japaneseness” in him that is different from most Americans.”
The Giants game 5 NLCS hero, Travis Ishikawa, is also a fourth-generation Japanese American.
UPDATE GAME 2 10/22/ 8:45 PM PDT
What a difference a Madbum makes
Without the 25-year old ace, the Giants looked like the Royals did on Tuesday. Ordinary.
They sent out Jake Peavy for Game 2, and Peavy has a thing about the 6th inning in post-season.
He doesn’t get out of it. True to form, he didn’t.
The game seemed to start off like Game 1, with the Giants pouncing. Facing 99 mph fastballs from KC’s Yordano Ventura, the Giants didn’t buckle. Leadoff man Gregor Blanco hit a line drive homer to right for a 1-0 lead.
When the Giants score first this post-season, they’re 5-0.
But Peavy was rocky in the first, as the Royals tied it when Billy Butler singled in Lorenzo Cain.
They went ahead in the 2nd on doubles by Infante and Escobar.
But the Giants came back in the 4th when Brandon Belt doubled in Sandoval.
It was all tied at 2, and then came that 6th inning.
Peavy had retired 10 in a row and looked to have settled in. But after a single to Cain and a walk to Hosmer, Peavy was gone.
Jean Machi came in relief. And true to his poor form of late, Machi gave up a single to Butler, who again delivered an RBI single to put KC ahead 3-2.
Machi left to be replaced by the home-run inducing Hunter Strickland. He began with a double to Salvador Perez, which made the KC lead 5-2.
And then Strickland did what Strickland does. A home run ball to Omar Infante to left, put KC ahead 7-2.
The Giants’ bats were stymied by the KC bullpen.They hit the ball hard, but struck out 6 times and never could mount a rally.
One good news/bad news situation was the appearance in relief of Tim Lincecum, the first time in 23 days he’s seen action. Lincecum came on in the 7th, pitched 1.2 innings and struck out two batters. But he hurt something in his lower body as he delivered a pitch and was forced to leave the game. Still uncertain how serious the injury is and if it will prevent him from future action.
The series now goes back for three games in San Francisco, and if the Giants win Games 3 and 4, they could conceivably close it out in 5 with another start from their ace Bumgarner.
But the Royals showed what they had in Game 2. And they showed how the series can easily come back to Kansas City.
UPDATE on GAME 1 10/21/14 9:45pm pdt
You can’t underestimate the value of game one of the World Series.
The winner of the first game has won 69 of 109 series, including 15 of the last 17.
So the Giants winning 7-1 on Tuesday night gives them a real edge.
This game was over early as the Giants shut up the crowd scoring 3-runs in the first, including a two-run shot by Hunter Pence into the right-centerfield seats.
The Giants bats were alive all night with 10 hits. Pablo Sandoval extended his post-season on-base streak to 24 games, and went ahead of Lou Gehrig into 5th longest of all time.
Lou Gehrig. That’s enough to make you forgive Panda’s physique issues.
But the streak of Bumgarner’s was more impressive. He entered with a record for road shutout innings pitched in the post season, 26.2 innings. He went 6 and 2/3rds more before giving up a home run to Royals catcher Salvador Perez in the 7th.
That’s 33 and 1/3 innings of shutout innings pitched on the road in the post-season.
And MadBum is just 25-years-old.
The only threat from the Royals came in the 3rd when Brandon Crawford’s error, followed by a Moustakas double, and a walk to Cain (in a contentious at bat) loaded the bases. But Madbum struck out two and got the Royal’s slugger Eric Hosmer on a grounder t0 second base. That was it for the Royals.
Game Two on Wednesday puts more pressure on the Royals. They don’t want to go into San Francisco down 2-0.
But the Giants have the momentum now. And Jake Peavy on the hill.
The Royals may have better luck against the Game 3 pitcher, Tim Hudson, whom they beat last August.
If the Giants win Game 4, that sets up a repeat of Game 1—Bumgarner against the world for the series in Game 5.
Tuesday was more than a peek into the future.
UPDATE 10/21/14 1:00 pm pdt
Game one about to start and I’m noticing how the Nation seems to be turning Royal Blue, backing the Cinderella team from Kansas City. Why? They haven’t been there in nearly 30 years and there’s a real sense of underdog entitlement. Like that makes sense in sports? People are all meritocratic and hard ass in sports and then get soft because the team in blue hasn’t been good enough in three decades, let them have a chance?
That’s not how sports is played. Rec league soccer for kids maybe, but this is hardball.
The Giants aren’t really all that great. They are good enough to be great when they have to. That’s the 2014 team. I watched them all year, suffered through June. Got really disgusted with their play late July and early August. But what do you know. They hung in there. Didn’t beat the Dodgers, but made it to be the worst qualified team in the NL.
The Royals were the least qualified on the AL side, and have come on strong in the post-season, but I think the fairy dust runs out in this Wild Series.
If you’re going to go with underdogs, the Giants are the more deserving among dogs. The Royals have a nice team, but I saw them play Oakland in the summer. If the Giants starting pitching is sharp, and the Giants big bats wake up, then this is over in 5.
What people seem to respond to in the Royals is sympathy and nostalgia. The Giants had that a bit in 2010 too. But they were better than the Texas Rangers.
The sympathy vote for the Royals makes them slightly more lovable to some. And that’s the problem the Giants have. They are not villainous by any means. But their lovability factor for some reason seems low.
Doesn’t anyone out there notice those darn Panda hats?
I think the hats and the Panda himself are the key to this series. Pablo Sandoval had that huge 3-home run game in 2012. I was there. I still don’t believe it. But he has it in him. And he’s been fairly quiet with the bat. High average but no pop. I think he’ll be ready to pop this week. It’s his contract year, and he’s motivated. I’m looking for him, Posey, and Pence to make the difference. I won’t say sweep, but it would be nice to get in the full three game set in SF and win it all at AT&T on Sunday the 26th.
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SF Giants’ Lincecum still has homer-itis, but keeps team in game till it decides it wants to win in 12th; After nearly five hours, Giants beat Dodgers 3-2 on Jackie Robinson Day
On the night when all the heroes wore No. 42, it was too bad the San Francisco Giants’ Tim Lincecum couldn’t get the win.
On Jackie Robinson Night, the Giants sent Lincecum, the premier Filipino American player in baseball to the mound. The Filipino fan favorite pitched well enough to win. In a 93 pitch performance in 5 innings, he struck out 5 and had zero walks. The Dodgers managed just five hits, but that included a solo home run in the 2nd inning to former teammate Juan Uribe. On a full-count, Lincecum challenged with a slider, and Uribe pounded it half-way up the left field bleachers. The Dodgers coasted on that run most of the night. By the time the Giants tied it on a Brandon Crawford sac fly that scored Hunter Pence, Lincecum was out of the game–but off the hook. He’s still looking for his first win, but so far he’s got 17 Ks and 1 walk in 15 innings pitched, indicative that the mustachioed Lincecum isn’t plagued by some of the control issues he had last year. Indeed, this year, he’s not wild, just prone to the fat pitch and the homerun ball—he’s given up 5 in 15 innings. Uribe got him on this night. After the Dodgers took a2-1 lead, the Giants tied the score again in the bottom of the 9th, but left the bases loaded ( as they did three times in the game). The game went into extras, past midnight. Nearly five hours after the start, the Giants finally pushed through a winning run when Hector Sanchez singled in Brandon Crawford for the 3-2 final. The walk-off win gives the Giants a first place tie with LA in the NL West.
In an revealing interview with MLB.com, Tim Lincecum says a whole lot more than in his terse after the game clubhouse sessions.
Mostly he talks about being in a good place, how he’s learned how to create a plan from talking to teammate Chad Gaudin, and learned how to live without his blazing fastball.
In some ways, he’s so positive in the interview he sounds like he’s on some 12-step plan. Good for the Giants or maybe some other team.
That’s the speculation now as Lincecum returns to PETCO Park today for the first time since he threw the no-hitter that is now proving to be the highlight of the 2013 season for the whole team.
Here’s an excerpt:
Lincecum: Oh, things are going well. I want to see things get better and I want to get better myself. I’m just going to worry about me in the offseason and just go on to help out a team that needs it. Right now, I’m just trying to make my tools better.
(EG: Was that a major league hint? That he’s ready to say goodbye, if that happens? Gaudin, his “mentor” is a journeyman who has been around the block, maybe that’s part of the “mental” aspect of the game he’s passed on–changing uniforms, towns, teams but staying focused on one’s native athletic skill).
MLB.com: What’s the difference for you right now on the mound?
Lincecum: I think it’s taking every start individually and at a larger level, not making any one game or any one month too big or overwhelming. It can be at times and I’ve gotten ahead of myself, worrying about the future, wondering whether the stuff I have on the mound I’m going to be able to carry forward with me. That kind of negative thinking just leads nowhere. You get negative feelings and negative results out of it. I’ve just tried to steer my mindset to a different kind of thinking by feeding off the positives, even if they’re just little ones — liking myself at the end of the day, giving myself the benefit of the doubt even if the day doesn’t go great.
MLB.com: How have you been able to accomplish that?
Lincecum: I’ve had the pleasure of having Chad Gaudin on the team, who steered me in the right direction, as far as studying hitters and exploiting them the way I would like to, at least. I’ve never had anyone sit me down and do that, nor have I asked. To see the game from that perspective, that’s the way I’ve gone about it for the last 12 starts or so. Things have gotten increasingly better for me. It has me going out there with a plan, knowing that execution is the key. When anything goes wrong outside of that, I can always go back to my plan.
MLB.com: So you’re saying a lot of your problems the last two seasons have been mental?
Lincecum: Yeah, a lot of it is completely mental, just grasping the fact that I’m not going to throw 95-96 [mph] by guys anymore. I probably have to spot my fastball a lot more. That goes back to trusting it, trusting the stuff you have that day, regardless how fast it is and regardless of the fact that you’re probably not going to throw that hard again. You just have to trust it and know that it’s good stuff.
MLB.com: So why, at your age, the decrease in velocity of your fastball? Have you ever figured that out?
Lincecum: No, I think it goes back to getting into a good rhythm and timing with your body and having as many games when you have good results, but you might not be feeling at your best. That obviously goes back to being a good pitcher, but I’ve always fallen back on how I felt and what my rhythm was like on that day. Lately that velocity hasn’t been there, so I’ve had another crutch to lean on and that has been my game plan and the execution of that.
MLB.com: So you can fall back on the plan.
Lincecum: It’s just knowing that I can execute a pitch and it doesn’t have to be nasty anymore. That alleviates any kind of stress on any given pitch. If I do my pre-game studying, I know that a guy is or isn’t going to swing at a certain pitch or in a certain situation. It’s not 100 percent accurate, but it gives you a gauge that you can trust.
MLB.com: So how long has this taken to evolve?
Lincecum: The mental side started last year and the preparation part of it started this year. As far as preparing is concerned, I just wanted to be on the same page with my catcher, going with what I wanted that day whether it means shaking to a fastball away when he calls a curveball down, or any sort of scenario like that. I’m going with what I know I want so when he finally puts a sign down, I know, click, I’ve got that one. There’s not a whole lot of running over signs or confusion about, “What do you want to do here?” We already know what we want to do and we have an idea.
The interview was conducted by an MLB.Com national writer, and was fairly long compared to the Lincelength comments one usually gets after the games. But it is a digest of things he’s said throughout the season after both good and bad games.
Lincecum says he hasn’t decided what to do, nor has there been any discussion with the Giants so far.
But he sounds ready for anything. Positive. Upbeat. Prepared.
His closing comments are telling:
MLB.com: How do you sum up this part of your career with the Giants?
Lincecum: I’m happy because I’m healthy and that’s the biggest thing anybody can say, as far as their career goes. Being able to last is the biggest thing and staying in the game is the hardest. I enjoy being able to work, come in and be part of a team like this. It’s been fun. I’ve faltered the last few years here. I think I have a lot of good years in me, as long as I turn it around and start believing in myself again like I should. I’m not going to try throwing 96 anymore. I’m going to try and sit on the edges, not necessarily call myself a nit-picker, but exploit guy’s weaknesses and have them swing at pitches that I want them to. I want to keep getting better.
Is it over at AT&T? Let’s hope not. He sounds like a better Lincecum. Besides, how will the Giants ever sell out TWO Filipino American Heritage Nights….