Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 3, Dodgers 0


Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 3, Dodgers 0

SAN FRANCISCO For 59 days in the desert, Tim Lincecum wandered and wondered.Could he be a dominant presence again? Could he perform the way his teammates, coaches and fans expected? Could he be Timmy?Under a clear blue sky in China Basin on Wednesday, the Seattle native made it rain again. He threw filth, attacked the zone, blocked the plate and kept a firm grip on the Los Angeles Dodgers, ending his 10-start winless streak with seven shutout innings in the Giants 3-0 victory that forged a tie atop the NL West.Lincecum didnt just end his personal misery. He made franchise history.Combined with starts from Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong, Lincecum capped a three-shutout sweep of their archrivals something thats never been done in all-time franchise history.In fact, the Giants hadnt shut out an opponent while sweeping a series of at least three games since April 24-25, 1954, when Marv Grissom, Sal Maglie and Johnny Antonelli pitched them to 1-0, 3-0 and 5-0 victories over the Philadelphia Phillies at the Polo Grounds.This was just the third time the Giants had thrown three consecutive shutouts in the clubs San Francisco era, and the first time since July 5-8, 1988. Terry Mulholland and Rick Reuschel started shutouts against the Cubs and Mike LaCoss blanked the Cardinals.The other streak of three consecutive shutouts in the San Francisco era came May 11-13, 1960, when Sam Jones and Jack Sanford pitched the Giants over the Phillies and Mike McCormick followed by outdueling the Dodgers Don Drysdale.In case youre wondering the Giants have never thrown four consecutive shutouts in franchise history.Starting pitching reportLincecum (3-8) showed fight and mettle while winning for the first time since April 28. He held the Dodgers to four hits in seven innings, walked two and struck out eight.He got the first-inning escape he needed following a one-out single and a walk when Juan Rivera hit a grounder to third base and Pablo Sandoval expertly fielded it to start a double play.Lincecum pumped his fist, showing plenty of emotion. He showed even more in the third inning, after pitcher Chad Billingsley doubled and took third on a wild pitch.Lincecum threw another bouncer in the dirt that got past catcher Hector Sanchez, but the little right-hander immediately sprinted home and didnt hesitate to throw his left knee in front of the plate while receiving the throw.In the rare pitcher-pitcher confrontation, Lincecum won. He let a shock of celebration run through his body after umpire Fieldin Culbreath called Billingsley out.Lincecum only appeared to grow in stature from there, and Sanchez matched his intensity with a body-sacrificing play in the fourth inning. The catcher, who was working for the second consecutive time with Lincecum, made a diving catch on Elian Herreras popped-up bunt in foul ground, landing hard on the dirt but getting up and firing to second base. Sanchez winced in pain and was checked by trainers but remained in the game.All of it seemed to fuel Lincecum, who retired nine of 10 batters beginning with Herreras foul pop. The lone exception was when Juan Uribe struck out but reached on a wild pitch in the fifth.Lincecum kept plugging the dreaded big inning before it could happen, but he had one more situation to escape after Juan Rivera led off the seventh with an infield hit and A.J. Ellis drew a one-out walk. Giants manager Bruce Bochy went out to check on Lincecum, and he mustve gotten the look and the answer that he wanted. Allowed to finish the inning, Lincecum got Tony Gwynn Jr. to fly out and then struck out Uribe, his former World Series teammate, to end his resounding afternoon.Linecum beat the Dodgers for the first time since July 30, 2010. Hed been 0-4 in six starts since then, mostly getting shaded by Clayton Kershaw despite pitching brilliantly.Bullpen reportJavier Lopez and Sergio Romo combined for the final two shutout innings, keeping a historic, shutout thumping of their rivals in order.At the plateLincecum did it all. He singled to start the two-run rally in the third inning against Billingsley (4-7). Ryan Theriot and Melky Cabrera collected one-out hits. Lincecum scored when left fielder Bobby Abreu trapped Cabreras sinking line drive, then pretended that he made a clean catch. The umpires werent fooled.Angel Pagan drew a bases-loaded walk in the third and contributed an RBI single in the fifth.Brandon Crawford broke out of his slump perhaps gaining some motivation from his new walk-up music courtesy of Kelly Clarkson and had three hits, including a triple.In fieldSanchezs play amazing.AttendanceThe Giants announced 42,245 paid. A Happy Lincecum Day was had by all.Up nextThe Giants take on another first place team, but this time they enter the series as one, too. Fresh off sweeping the Dodgers, the Giants welcome Dusty Baker and the NL Central-leading Cincinnati Reds for a four-game series. Theyll face the Reds best pitcher in Thursdays opener, as right-hander Johnny Cueto (9-3. 2.21) will tangle with left-hander Madison Bumgarner (9-4, 3.10). Right-handers Mike Leake, Mat Latos and Bronson Arroyo, who is coming off a near no-hitter, are scheduled to face Matt Cain, Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong.

Otani to MLB after 2017 season? 'We discussed the possibility'

Otani to MLB after 2017 season? 'We discussed the possibility'

TOKYO -- Japanese pitcher Shohei Otani says he could move to the major leagues after the 2017 season.

The 22-year-old right-hander, who has also put up big numbers at the plate, signed a $2.37 million contract for next season with the Nippon Ham Fighters on Monday.

Otani will not become eligible for free agency until after the 2021 season and will need the Fighters' approval to negotiate with a major league club through the posting system before that time.

He says "we discussed the possibility of me going. ... The club will respect my wishes whenever I decide I want to go."

Otani went 10-4 as a pitcher and batted .322 with a career-high 22 home runs this season for the Fighters.

New rules in MLB's collective bargaining agreement make it more difficult for players like Otani to get paid big bucks right away. But there is a definite curiosity about his abilities, even from those who haven't seen him play much.

"I don't know which side you're worried about more: his ability to pitch or hit," former New York Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "Hopefully he stays healthy because he's an addition whatever league he winds up with, whether he stays in Japan or comes to the U.S. he's certainly going to be an exciting player for people to look forward to watching."

Boston Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski was reluctant to talk about Otani because he's under contract in Japan. But he's intrigued about Otani's ability to pitch and hit.

"We have reports on him," Dombrowski said. "Do I think a player could be a two-way player? Yeah, it could happen. It is very difficult? Yes. But I'm not saying that there's not a player out there that can't do that because some of them are rare, rare guys. Babe Ruth could do it. He was pretty good. So it can be done."

Report: Giants 'among teams that have asked' about lefty reliever Howell

Report: Giants 'among teams that have asked' about lefty reliever Howell

The Giants added a huge piece to their bullpen Monday by signing closer Mark Melancon to a four-year deal. While much of the bullpen is complete, San Francisco's front office is reportedly keeping an open mind with a familiar reliever. 

San Francisco has reportedly asked about lefty reliever J.P. Howell, according to ESPN's Buster Olney. Howell, who turns 34 in April, spent the last four seasons as a Giants rival with the Dodgers.

Last season coming out of the Dodgers' bullpen, Howell tossed 50.2 innings pitched and ended with a 1-1 record and 4.09 ERA. The year before, Howell posted a career-low 1.43 ERA. 

In just 13 appearances out of the bullpen -- 10.2 innings pitched -- Howell has struggled in his career at AT&T Park. The lefty has a 6.75 ERA in San Francisco, to go along with an 0-1 record. 

As a whole, the Giants' bullpen finished the 2016 regular season with a 25-24 record. The group's 3.65 ERA ranked ninth in the National League. 

Howell is seeking a one-year deal, according to Olney.