Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 7. Phillies 2


Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 7. Phillies 2


PHILADELPHIA At one point, Tim Lincecum absent-mindedly walked back to the dugout with two outs. A bit later, he balked in a run when he fell down in mid-delivery.

And yes, these might have been scenes from his best start of the season while pitching the Giants to a 7-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on a surprisingly misty Friday night at Citizens Bank Park.

Lincecum pitched feisty but carefully while avoiding the big inning something he hadnt been able to do throughout this disappointing season of his. But after Brandon Crawford hit another bonanza, a grand slam in the sixth inning, Lincecum went into pound-the-strike-zone mode.

Hes had better linescores than the seven-inning, five-hit, two-run, six-strikeout effort that will show up in the box score. But he might have done his best job mixing stuff, smarts and mound poise while winning for just the second time since April 28.

Wouldnt you know it? After losing nine consecutive Lincecum starts, the Giants have now taken four of their last six Happy Timmy Days. Perhaps its no coincidence theyre 6-1 since the All-Star break and gaining a foothold in the NL West.

Starting pitching report
Lincecum (4-10) didnt have to worry about heat exhaustion. The cold and misty weather suited him well and he showed it by allowing just one baserunner in the first three innings.

Even he was unaccustomed to getting so many quick outs early in the game. The sellout crowd whooped it up when he began walking to the dugout after fielding pitcher Vance Worleys comebacker for the second out in the third inning.

The Phillies made some good adjustments the second time through the order, when Shane Victorino and Chase Utley began the fourth inning with singles to put runners at the corners.

Thats when Lincecum slipped while trying to make a pitch to Ryan Howard, falling down midway through his delivery for a balk that scored a run.

But Lincecum did not lose his composure. He retired Howard and Carlos Ruiz on contact outs, then showed a bit of Vogelsong while refusing to give in against Hunter Pence and Juan Pierre. He missed on close pitches while issuing walks to load the bases.

This was the Moment of Truth, and unlike so many times earlier this season, Lincecum met it. He got ahead with two nasty, called breaking pitches to Placido Polanco and then got him to roll over an inside fastball to third baseman Pablo Sandoval for the easy forceout. (Though the pitch might not have been as far in as Lincecum wanted it. So maybe Timmys luck changed a bit, too.)

After Crawford put the Giants ahead, Lincecum did exactly what a good pitcher should do: He switched to strike-pumping mode, and wasnt fazed after Howard took him deep to center field for a solo shot in the sixth.

Lincecum retired the next six hitters to end his night.

The turning point was that jam he escaped in the fourth, though. Lincecum entered having allowed a .313 average with runners in scoring position; it was just .200 last year.

Bullpen report
Jeremy Affeldt tossed the eighth inning and hasnt allowed a run while looking crisp in four outings since the All-Star break. George Kontos handled the duties in the ninth.

At the plate
If Crawford were a holdem player, hed only take kill pots. Of his six career home runs, two are grand slams and two are three-run blasts. Hes got one of each on this road trip, and as a result, the Giants already are assured no worse of a split in this six-game jaunt to Atlanta and Philadelphia.

It didnt start out so chip-happy for the Giants against Worley (5-6), who struck out the last five batters in the order the first time through the lineup. The Giants definitely were playing with a light deck with Eli Whiteside in the lineup.

The Phillies certainly didnt show Whiteside much respect in the fifth when they pitched to the No.8 hitter with first base open and two outs. Whiteside made them pay with a short-stroked double over right fielder Hunter Pences head that tied the game.

Ryan Theriot and Melky Cabrera set up the big, five-run sixth inning with a pair of singles, and Buster Posey walked to load em up. Pablo Sandoval hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly, and after Nate Schierholtz walked, Crawford hammered an 0-1 fastball into the right field seats.

Crawford later added a run-scoring single to give him a career-high five RBIs.

In field
Crawford continued to dazzle on defense. He made a full-extension dive and throw to retire Polanco in the seventh inning, although replays appeared to show the umpire blew the call.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel looked to be telling fishing stories more than arguing, judging by the bemused expression on umpire Mike Everitts face.

The Phillies announced 44,205 paid on a rare, blustery night in late July. There were wolf whistles for Lincecum, but only a few.

Up next
Money cant buy love, but there will be stacks and stacks of it on the mound when Matt Cain (10-3, 2.56 ERA) opposes Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels (11-4, 3.07) on Saturday. Cains six-year, 127.5 million extension is being used as a baseline in current talks between the Phillies and Hamels, their former World Series MVP.

Cubs, Indians name starting pitchers for Game 1 of World Series


Cubs, Indians name starting pitchers for Game 1 of World Series

World Series ace Jon Lester is all set to start Game 1 for the Chicago Cubs.

Lester will be fully rested when he pitches Tuesday night at Cleveland. Corey Kluber will start for the Indians.

The 32-year-old lefty is 2-0 in three starts during this postseason, with wins over the Giants and Dodgers in the NL playoffs. He was 19-5 during the regular season.

Lester is 3-0 in three starts in the World Series with a sparkling 0.43 ERA. He helped the Boston Red Sox win championships in 2007 and 2013.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon says Lester is "really, really in the moment" right now.


Indians ace Corey Kluber will start Game 1 of the World Series against the Chicago Cubs.

Manager Terry Francona said Sunday that he will go with Kluber, an 18-ame winner during the regular season, in the opener on Tuesday night. The right-hander is 2-1 with a 0.98 ERA in his first postseason.

Francona has right-handers Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin penciled in for Games 2 and 3, respectively. The order could change depending on how Bauer's injured right pinkie heals over the next few days.

Bauer's start in the AL Championship Series lasted less than one inning after his pinkie began bleeding against Toronto. He injured his finger when he sliced it open while repairing a drone.

Also, injured starter Danny Salazar could be available against the Cubs. Salazar hasn't pitched since Sept. 9 because of forearm tightness but he's made major progress in the past week and could be on the World Series roster.

How Cubs beat Kershaw to move on to World Series

How Cubs beat Kershaw to move on to World Series

Two quick runs off the best pitcher on the planet on Saturday night afforded the Cubs exactly what they needed to snap a 71-year-old drought.

Already confident after consecutive offensive outbursts in the previous two games, a two-run first inning against Clayton Kershaw had Cubs hitters in a positive frame of mind.

They rode the surprising rally and a dominant performance by Kyle Hendricks to a 5-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers at Wrigley Field in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series. The win earned the Cubs their first NL pennant since 1945 and on Tuesday night they’ll seek their first World Series title since 1908 when they face the Cleveland Indians in Game 1.

“It’s huge for the confidence, the positive momentum from LA, to carry over back home,” left fielder Ben Zobrist said. “Those were the biggest moments in the game early on to help everybody keep pushing and that we got this thing -- that we’re in charge of the game early. That’s a huge momentum builder.”

The Cubs did a little bit of everything in the first inning against Kershaw, who dominated them for seven scoreless frames in a 1-0 Dodgers victory in Game 2 on Sunday night. Some hitters took a more aggressive approach against the three-time NL Cy Young winner while others remained patient. The one constant throughout the 30-pitch frame was that Cubs hitters took advantage whenever Kershaw made a mistake.