Tag Archives: Chicago Cubs

Linceblog: Giant’s math doesn’t quite add up, but something special can still happen/ UPDATE–Alas, Giants lose to Cubs as Belt plays Buckner role; SERIES UPDATE 7/28: Lincecum loses a heartbreaker 2-1 vs. Cubs; Clubhouse interview (video) describing team’s funk, and how despite Monday White House visit, no one is talking about it

As we enter into the last quarter of the season, the Giants seem less like defending World Champs and more like lame ducks.

Sort of like Barrack Obama, whom they will meet on Monday in the White House.

Like the Giants, Obama is slipping badly in the polls, but he still has a little more time in his last term, as he tries to cement his legacy with the nascent Affordable Care Act, better middle class economic initiatives, and the push for immigration reform.

The Giants? They’ve got less than 60  games.


Let’s presume, to keep the math simple, the Giants win with Cain pitching tonight (unfortunately, this year that’s a leap of faith, as Cain hasn’t been quite the horse we know. Note: See update. They didn’t win, but it wasn’t Cain’s fault).

Say they beat the Cubs, whose owners have already sold out the team. That would make the Giants 47-55, with 60 games left (162 game season).

If the present sub-.500 Giants team manages to play up to .500 baseball that leaves us at 77-85.

Hello, 49ers.

If the Giants manage to finish strong, say .700 baseball (a real leap), then we’ve got a shot at a wild card with 89 wins.

.700 baseball? Not a total fantasy. But the way the Giants are these days, only a slightly plausible reality.

If the team gets real healthy, stays motivated, and maybe the entire NL West collapses (say the Dodgers get distracted/hurt or somehow Puig goes back to Cuba because he misses Communism, or something), then the Giants have a real shot.

But it will be up to the team to heal, get psyched and stay with it to the end.

As they say at the track, “pace makes the race.”  In baseball, a pennant race has a lot of the same characteristics, with parts of the season where teams can stink , and then cycle high and end up as champs. (Just look at how the Giants Dodgers have reversed fates).

The Giants started out stronger than we thought. But that was negated by a mid-season collapse that started with that horrible road trip on May 14 to Toronto. The funk lasted until the All-Star break.

If they can finish strong, they can pull one of those comebacks that’s not so uncommon in sports, and that makes a season special.

The Giants can still do that this last quarter. They don’t even need to make a big trade. Another small Scutaro-type trade would be nice. (Today, they got another Guillermo (Moscoso), making them a two Guillermo team).

But really, they don’t have to do a thing. Just heal, and play errorless fundamental baseball.

They’re defending champs. With a track record. If they can get healthy and catch some breaks, they have the talent to win on heart and guts alone.

They’ve got 60 games to prove it can happen.

(Note: I was optimistic when I first wrote that. Now with 58 games left, Anthony Weiner may have a better chance at staying in his race than the Giants have in staying alive in the NL West).


This is another one of what I call “identity” games. The games that put a stamp on what kind of team you really are.

There are good ones, like the one where Pagan hit his inside-the-park-home run. The kind of game you have to keep in the back of your head as a reminder  when things go bad.

Like now.

Or you’ve frayed the film in your head. And you just need to play another game, just like that one again. 

So the Giants really needed game 1 in this series against the Cubs, especially after the Reds visit, to show everyone, especially themselves, that they still have it as defending champs.

When you go into the 9th against the Cubs with your closer and a 2-1 lead, you expect to walk away a winner.

But the Giants found a way to lose.

First, Romo gives up a hit and a walk, then a force out puts runners on first and third.

But it was Brandon Belt’s boot of an Anthony Rizzo grounder that was the big blow. Self-inflicted. 

The ball was hit right at Belt and he booted it. It went  through his legs.

Two runs score, and the Giants go from 1 strike away from a 2-1 victory, to down 3-2 in the 9th.

Shades of the Buckner Red Sox error in game 6 of the World Series Oct. 25, 1986.

But that was a World Series. This was just game 102 of the regular season.

Still, it was symbolic. 

A win would have been a tremendous mental lift for a team whose identity is in question. What kind of defending champions are they? Do they have it in them to be great? Where all the past three seasons just coincidence? Can they win with these guys?

Matt Cain turned a shaky start into a good performance, good enough for a win. But once again, the hitters couldn’t muster more than 4 hits going into the last inning. And then, after the error, couldn’t score to win, let alone extend the game.

He’s been through low-run support before.  But this was all that, plus a defensive failure.

It’s tough because Belt is a great fielder, normally.

But maybe we must accept that this will not be the kind of normal year we’ve come to expect at AT&T.

With sixty-games to go, it seems a lot to wish for even .500 baseball at this point.

But baseball, with or without PEDs, has its own way to justice and redemption. Times like these set up memorable comebacks like last year’s post-season.

Do these Giants still have it in them?

UPDATED: Saturday, 7-27-13 9:11 PM

Yet another heartbreaking  loss, this one 1-0 came after two bases loaded opportunities, one with no outs, the other with one outs.

And one with the big bats, Posey, Panda, Pence coming up.

But instead of a bushel of runs, the Giants came up empty.

To add to the frustration, the villain tonight was a former local hero, Nate Schierholtz  whose HR off a 3-2 Sergio Romo pitch was the games only run.

Win or lose, baseball is good entertainment. But you don’t want every night to be “Death of a Salesman.”

Manager Bruce Bochy lost to the long ball tonight and admitted his team isn’t a power hitting team and can’t win that way.

But after this kind of loss, the challenge is to not get mired in a mental funk.

“You try to keep them going. stay positive,” said Bochy after the game to the media. “We’re being tested. Why? I don’t know, but we’re being tested. And hopefully when you get tested you get stronger. That’s why these two games are disappointing because the pitching’s been there. We did meet today, we talked. (The team) is coming out with a lot of energy, but right now we’ve got some guys who aren’t swinging the bats that well to be honest. We’re getting shut down. There’s a lot of baseball left. And there’s a lot of pride involved. And the only  thing we can do is come out and just give it our all tomorrow.”

A question came about fielding.

“If you lose games and you beat yourselves, that bothers me. That’s not who we are. It’s a little bit of who we have become. We’ve made too many errors. That shouldn’t happen. It’s not acceptable.”

Bochy said the team was going to pass on batting practice before Sunday’s game and do more infield practice. But he said hitting is still an issue.

“It’s going to take someone to come through, and that seems to loosen some guys up,” said Bochy. “But right now, we’re in a tough rut, and we know it.”




Tim Lincecum seemingly did it all.

He hit his spots. He said the ball felt good coming off his hand. He struck out ten Cubs.  He even hit the ball well as a batter, with two hits of his own.

Lincecum just didn’t win.

Or maybe he couldn’t win.

Not in the state the Giants seem to be mired in these days.



What else is it that we’re talking about? The team’s in a “state,” not like California, more like Idaho, a bad baseball state (no MLB?). Or, so  as not to offend Idahoans, the team’s just in a bad baseball way, one  that stuns even  a veteran  like manager Bruce Bochy .


“I’m very proud of Timmy in how he pitched and played today, it’s a shame we couldn’t give him a win,” said Bochy after the game.  “In all my years, I haven’t seen a team go through such a hard time getting runs like we’re having right now. It’s a shame. We’ve had great pitching.”


He could have said the same for every Giants starter (Cain and Bumgarner) this Cubs series.


Sunday was no different. Once again, the Giants failed in typical fashion of late.


In another bases loaded situation with no out, the team couldn’t score more than one run.  You could hear the heartbreak in the stands when Buster Posey hit a grounder to Cub third baseman Wellington Castillo who stepped on third and threw home for a double play in the 5th inning.


But the sighs turned into a big roar when Giant’s third-baseman Pablo Sandoval came up next and promptly doubled to left to get one run home.


The Sandoval RBI got back the run Lincecum gave up to opposing pitcher Travis Wood,  who hit a solo shot to left in the top of the 5th.


But then in the 7th, Lincecum, well over 100 pitches  but stil looking like he could finish the inning (later he said he wasn’t tired),  gave up another solo homer, this time with two-out to Castillo on a fastball down the middle.


After the game, Lincecum said even though Wood’s homer was better hit, Castillo’s was tougher because it broke the tie the Giants had struggled mightily to get.


It also put the Cubs ahead, for what ultimately was good enough to win.


Lincecum deserved a much better fate as he pitched 7 innings, gave up just 4 hits, two runs (the two homers), walked just two and struck out 10.

He was getting the Cubs to swing and miss with his off-speed pitches. Unfortunately, the Giants offense was doing its share of swinging and missing.


Brandon Belt had another horrible day in this Cub series, striking out four times in the game.


But the Cubs sure didn’t miss when Lincecum made the two mistakes.


 Lincecum was asked about the bad way the team was in.


“We’ve been there before–we always talk about believing that we can get out of it,” said Lincecum in the clubhouse.  “Just takes a couple of things going right to spring board us into something positive. Right now, we’re kind of avoiding those. If we can just hit something right, catch strides somewhere, maybe win a few games in a row, maybe do better in a series, that will give us more confidence.”


Lincecum was asked about the White House visit tomorrow and said no one was really talking about that.


Later when I talked to him without the cameras, Lincecum told me he’d met the president before. When I asked him if going to the White House as defending champs might create a motivating spark, he indicated that the motivation to act and play like champions should be coming from something more than a trip to the White House.


Lincecum was still fairly tight lipped, as the whole club house had somewhat of a  funereal atmosphere. People weren’t walking through the clubhouse. They were reverently “eggshelling” like someone, something had died.


I got Lincecum to open up a bit for just a second when I talked about non-baseball things. (He’s mentioned in the new book, “Little Manila is in the Heart.”)


But you could tell when it came to baseball, the stone-faced quiet was really indicative of an intensely prideful, yet disappointed competitor, not willing to give up quite yet.


From where he was at the start of the season, Lincecum has worked hard to not just recapture some of his championship form, but pitch his first career no-hitter.

He was plenty good to win on Sunday, if only the rest of his team weren’t caught in a strange crippling  funk.  



Linceblog: Lincecum has the Chicago Blues–another big inning that’s done him wrong–but Giants’ offense, Pence, save day

Just as the full “Filipino Flash” Nonito Donaire fizzled, the Giants’ half-Filipino flash, Tim Lincecum. was rocked in a first-inning that began with a walk to the first batter he faced.

It was the only walk he allowed the whole game.

That’s the positive.

But then he gave up two 2-run homers in that same first inning. That’s a four-run inning, a typical Lincecum start.

Lincecum has given up three-or-more runs in an inning 10 times from the start of the 2012 season to date.

But the Giants’ offense eventually picked him up. Pinch-hitter Nick Noonan (batting .600 on this road trip) lined a single to left to give the Giants a 5-4 lead, and cap a 4-run inning in the 6th.

Lincecum was still in for the win. But the Cubs came back to regain the lead 7-6 in the 8th.

That set up a 2-strike homerun by Hunter Pence to tie and extend the game at 7-7.  Lincecum was off the hook totally for another no-decision start. And then the Giants with some clutch hitting pulled away with a 3-run 10th, 10-7.

Suddenly, the Giants  aren’t reliant on pitching so much. They are confident and showing enough offense to erase deficits late in the game.

Mark of a champion? Team is going well at 9-4.  And Lincecum? Well, the team has won his last three starts.

Tim’s next start is likely Saturday night against the Padres at AT&T.


Linceblog: Lincecum battles Cubs, and more on that little fight in the Big Apple

Tim Lincecum, the half-Filipino flash, pitches today for the Giants against the Cubs in Wrigley, and that’s good news for the Giants.

Winners of two of three 1 run games vs. the Cubs, the Giants will have a pitcher who has never given up more than 2 runs per game at Wrigley Field. With a 1.82 ERA in five starts, Lincecum loves Wrigley.

If he pitches to his record,  the Giants may be able to muster just enough run support to take three out of four in this Cub series, and give Lincecum his 2nd win of the year.

Lincecum had that rocky 2nd inning against the Rockies this past week. In an answer to my post-game question, he said he saw video in-between innings  and saw something he was able to correct.

 He didn’t say what it was , but added it wasn’t a mechanical or timing thing.

“Rhythm,” was the word Lincecum used. He went on after that to give the Giants a solid four innings.

We’ll see today if he’s still on the beat and can avoid a bout of the Chicago blues.



The Big Apple played host to the best small guys in boxing, the 122 lb. super bantamweights.  But it’s hard to say what was on Nonito Donaire’s mind last night at Radio City Music Hall?

Was he waiting for the Rockettes?

It  sure didn’t seem he wanted to fight Guillermo Rigondeaux.

I was hoping Donaire would take advantage of Rigondeuax’s lack of pro experience and school him into pronouncing his first name the Filipino way (not Gee-air-mo, but Gil-yer-mo).

But my loyalty to  Filipino American Donaire was all off.  On this night, Donaire was neither linguist or pugilist.

I had seen both fighters’  televised bouts over the last year, and never was all that impressed with Donaire.  He always showboated with his left hand down. I just couldn’t imagine him so much quicker than opponents that he could avoid telegraphing his punch.

Rigondeaux, on the other hand, I’ve always thought was fairly quick and elusive.  And he’s a lefty, which meant that with luck, he could possibly catch the righty Donaire flush in the face.

Sure, enough, the left caught Donaire, puffing up his eye, and essentially ended all chance before the 12th was done.

Indeed, the so-called “Filipino Flash” hardly flashed a thing all night, unable to jab or catch up to Rigondeaux.  For at least the first six rounds, it was like Donaire wasn’t even in the fight.

Later, in the post-bout interviews on HBO, Donaire admitted, “I never studied (for) the fight. “

It was a stunning admission on his lack of preparation. HBO commentators said that trainer Robert Garcia had been so involved with his other top fighter Brandon Rios, that much of his time with Donaire was spent on the phone.  Maybe that’s why Donaire looked like he was “phoning it in.”

It all leaves Filipino American fans wondering if Donaire really has what it takes to replace Manny Pacquiao, a loser in his last two fights.