Posts Tagged San Francisco Giants

Linceblog: Is Tim Lincecum saying goodbye to the SF Giants?

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….

 

 

 

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Linceblog: SF Giants in San Diego finally turning page on bad chapter? Yes, if Tim Lincecum can keep pitching like he has… UPDATE: LINCECUM NO-NOs SAN DIEGO PADRES, GIANTS WIN 9-0

There have been no darker times in the 2013 season than what we’ve experienced the last two months. Injuries, miscues, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong, and it all dates back to May 14th.

That was the start of that miserable series in Toronto, and to date, that’s covered 54 games that look like a death spiral to the NL West cellar.

19 wins, 35 losses, a .351 win percentage, the second worst in the majors (after Minnesota) since that May 14 date.

And then came San Diego.

The Giants streak has given hope to those who thought rigor mortis had set in at Third and King.

After these last two months, a good team gone bad needs a 10-run, 17 hit Friday victory.

And what do you know, they’ve got a two-win streak!

(Really, there is no dishonor beating up on the Padres. Not when you consider what the missionaries were really all about).

Here’s the bad news. The Giants have never won more than two in a row at any point since May 14th, while they like losing streaks of three games or more and have done that SIX times.

So can they add a third win?

Why not? It’s a Tim Lincecum night.

(Now you know all the Filipinos in National City are excited about this appearance. Lincecum is the pride of Filipinos everywhere. But he’s typical of a lot of 2nd generation American Filipinos).

 

 

The Linceblog has noted that Timmy has pitched well enough to win his last two starts, almost matching Homer Bailey in Cincinnati (who just happened to throw a no-hitter). And then in the last start against the Mets, Lincecum deserved a victory dueling All-Star Matt Harvey were it not for some horrible defensive plays and an offense that stopped after Posey hit a two-run bomb.

Still, Lincecum had the magic.  He had 11 strikeouts that night, the 33rd time he’s struck-out ten or more in a single game in his career, but just the first time this season he’s done it.

It’s an indicator that the bullpen talk is still premature.

Tim’s still got it. And the late-bloomer is finally coming around this year.

Now he’s up against the Padres. This season against SD, the Lince-line is decent: in two games, he’s 1-1, 1.32 era, 13.2 innings, 10 hits, 2 runs, 2 er, 5 walks, 17 K’s….

That’s more than one strikeout an inning. And the game he lost was a 2-1 duel with Cashner.

Timmy can do it.

And he has baseball voodoo on his side.

Just prior to the road series in May that began all the badness, the Giants took 3 of 4 from the Atlanta Braves, with Tim Lincecum winning the series ender, a 5-1 game on May 12.

The Giants were in first place, two games up. And it was a Mother’s Day special.

And now look who’s pitching exactly two months to the day of the start of that bad Toronto series, but Timmy L.

It would be a nice bookend to the badness, and the real beginning of a post-All-Star game streak that ends with a September beat-up of the NL West and a  three game final series in San Diego.

You see, there are  hopeful scenarios even without some trade deadline miracle.

Lincecum can help turn it around with a win tonight. 

And then Zito on Sunday to complete a sweep.

UPDATE: 10:16 PDT

Tim Lincecum, who has suffered through a hard-luck season of doubt and defeat, no-hit the San Diego Padres on 148 pitches, as the SF Giants won their third straight, 9-0.

Lincecum’s Giant teammates helped him out with a 10-hit attack. Hunter Pence added a home run and 5 RBI, and made a special defensive save, catching a low-liner off the bat of Alexi Amarista to end the 8th inning.

It was Lincecum’s first no-hitter in his career.

After the game he told a TV interviewer, “It was kind of surreal.”

Considering the way the first half of the season has gone, when his erratic performances inspired talk of being relegated to the bullpen, or being traded, or not being resigned by the Giants, Lincecum made a statement tonight.

He’s still something special.

 

 

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Linceblog: San Francisco Giants’ Lincecum shows old ace magic with 3-hit, 7-inning mastery over Toronto Blue Jays in 2-1 win; Best start this year comes amid bullpen talk, though Lincecum says that was no factor on this night

All the bullpen talk over the last few days must have done something to Tim Lincecum.

But he won’t let anyone think that.

The one-time, unquestioned Giants ace turned in a throwback performance—a solid 7-inning start, his best since Mother’s Day (May 12)–holding  the Toronto Blue Jays to just one run on three hits, walking just one batter, and striking out six.

Lincecum was in control. In 100-pitches, 61 for strikes, he showed everyone why he’s not quite ready to be relegated to the pen.

Later, Lincecum insisted that news reports where he discussed a bullpen move weren’t on his mind on this night, when he was just focused on being a good starter.

That, he was.

 

 

It wasn’t exactly an auspicious start.  Lincecum was ahead of Former Giant Melky Cabrera 1-2 but then gave up a single. The defense saved him with a 6-4-3-double play. But then the next batter, Edwin Encarnacion hit a 1-0 fastball into centerfield for his 17th home-run of the year to give Toronto a 1-0 lead.

Lincecum later said that pitch to Encarnacion was a “good pitch,” not a mistake. “You tip your cap to him,” said Lincecum. “And you move on.”  

But with 2-out and clean-up hitter Adam Lind coming up, would it be the beginning of that typical Lincecum pattern this year of the one-big inning, early?

Not on this night.

Lincecum restored confidence striking out Lind on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.

And then the Giants, as they have most of this season, came back to pick-up Lincecum.  In the bottom of the second, Andres Torres hit a 1-1 pitch from Toronto’s Josh Johnson on a line over the centerfield wall. Hunter Pence, who had singled, scored ahead of him to make it 2-1.

That’s all they needed, as Lincecum was ready to throw a gem of a game.

In the second, despite a hard hit ball by Toronto’s Colby Rasmus, it was a quick three-batter inning. As was the 3rd.

The 4th.

The 5th.

And the 7th.

The noticeable exception was the 6th. He faced one more batter. The inning started creakily, with Lincecum giving up his lone walk of the game with one-out–to his opposing pitcher Josh Johnson. Pitchers are supposed to be outs, as Lincecum has acknowledged in the past.

Would it be his undoing in a close one-run game?

Cabrera, the former hero and doper,  who had been dodging boos and indifference all night from conflicted fans, then singled to right.

But then it was Lincecum against the dangerous former home-run champion, Jose Bautista.

Bautista hit a liner to Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who quickly relayed to second baseman Marco Scutaro  to get the lead runner Johnson.

Scutaro had the ball for split second, then in a scooping motion with his gloved, dropped the ball.

Did he hold it long enough? Did he even beat Johnson to the bag? Second base umpire Alfonso Marquez said he did, though Blue Jays skipper John Gibbons continued arguing as the inning ended .  Giants Manager Bruce Bochy later said he’d probably be out there arguing too. But he thought Johnson was out.

With solid defense behind Lincecum like that double play, and hard hit fly balls to left run down by Torres, Lincecum shutdown the Blue Jays methodically. He had the fast-ball command early, and got his slider and change-up over for strikes.

The bull-pen came in to hold the game with Affeldt in the 8th, and Romo in the 9th. The closer needed  20 pitches to get the Blue Jays’  heart of the order out.

But even in the final inning, the Jays were a threat, with the tying run on first, and the winning run at the plate in the person of Edwin Encarnacion.

The Blue Jay slugger’s 17th homerun in the first inning was his team’s only run. His soft liner to second base would be its last out.

So the Giants bullpen did its job.

And for a change, so did the Giants starter named Lincecum.

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Linceblog: The San Francisco Giants’ dramatic weekend

Are you SF Giants fans feeling a touch nostalgic about 2010’s “torture” yet?

That was when the Giants were “all pitch and no hit,” and we wondered how they’d eke out a score on anything but a bases-loaded double-play.

Now the Giants spot teams like the Rockies two-runs early, as the starters try to keep the pitch count to under 70 in the first three innings. Meanwhile, Giants’ batters figure out how to work themselves into a rally frenzy to win it all in the end.

It’s very much like Sea Biscuit, the legendary champion race horse who would spot his challengers 10 lengths or more, only to turn it on late to win by a nose.

So which do you prefer? Slow drip or late rush? To paraphrase the Bard, would torture by any other name smell as sweet?

Depends on how you want the excessive drama in your life.

The two victories over the Rockies this weekend sure fit the come-from-behind nature of the 2013 Giants.

From Giants stats machine: Over half of the Giants’ 27 wins this season have been come-from-behind victories…their 14 such wins are tied for the fourth-most in the bigs…SF also has 10 wins in their last at-bat, tied with the D-backs for the most in the Majors.

As for one-run squeakers? Saturday’s was the 11th this season, tied with the D-backs, Reds and Indians for the most in the Majors.

Saturday also provided this obscure first, according the folks at Elias: The 10th inning victory was the first in 4,408 games in San Francisco in which they won after overcoming a deficit of four or more runs and in extra innings.

Glad that’s settled.

Personally, when it comes to victories, I’ll take mine in nine.

Cain’s work on Sunday, and Pagan’s ITP HR on Saturday are games worth savoring and replaying when all seems lost.

Some fans and the media seem disappointed when the Giants don’t win every game. But the Rockies series offers us some real perspective.

For the players, these kind of games should now be forever installed in their baseball DNA. Never say die? Don’t give up? You know it’s not empty rhetoric after this Rockies series.

And how do Giants’ pitchers survive 65 pitches to get just six outs in two innings?  Well, after this weekend, Matt Cain knows how it’s done.

Remember these two weekend games for future reference.

More immediately, they also help flush and forget series like that abominable road trip to Canada and Colorado last week, eh?

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