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.

What they're saying: 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame class

What they're saying: 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame class

The National Baseball Hall of Fame inducted Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez Wednesday. Here's what they and their peers are saying.

Still on outside, Bonds, Clemens have become invaluable to Hall

Still on outside, Bonds, Clemens have become invaluable to Hall

The Baseball Hall of Fame becomes yesterday’s news Friday, as it always does. Three months of buildup, one day to announce the names, one day to castigate the voters for their willfully negligent slights, and then nine months of hibernation.

So much for the concept of “joining the immortals.”

But at least Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez never have to go through this annual pageant of nonsense again.

Barry Bonds does, though, and so does Roger Clemens, and to a lesser extent, so does Curt Schilling. They are the new litmus strips for the Hall, and they will more than replace Raines (voter ignorance division) and Bagwell (presumption of guilt with evidence division) for self-involved debate.

And in that adjusted role from doomed outsiders to serious candidates, Bonds and Clemens – and to a lesser extent again, Schilling – have become invaluable to the Hall, and their eventual election and induction will reduce the Hall’s ability to inflame passions outside the seamhead community.

On a day when Bagwell and Raines finally cleared the 75 percent threshold and Bonds and Clemens moved from 45 percent to 53.8 and 54.1 percent, respectively, the Hall of Fame Debating And Chowder Society saw the end times for its power as a multi-month debate-churner.

The blatherers are dead, long live the blatherers.

An entire mini-industry of Hall watchers has been spawned, in part by the now-feted Ryan Thibodaux and his exit polling but also by the debates about what the Hall should be and who should get to decide it. It has made days like Wednesday event viewing when it hadn’t been for years. For that, the Hall owes Bonds and Clemens a debt that the powers inside Major League Baseball wishes it didn’t have to pay. But the day they are inducted is the day that PEDs die as a debating point. The answer will have been provided, and there will be no more need for discussion.

Worse yet, the BBWAA’S new voter transparency rules may unfortunately impact our pal Thibodaux, whose seminal work in this understudied area of social science undermined ballot secrecy. In short, if everyone has to fess up, the desperate need to know early returns may dry up.

Oh, there will always be the day of post mortem-ization, as those who didn’t clear the threshold are subject to a few rounds of the popular parlor game, “Who Got Snubbed, And The Tedious And Half-Informed Reasons Why.”

For instance, the big debating point from today’s results will not be about Raines and Guerrero getting in, but what happened to the Bonds and Clemens votes. People have already postulated that a lot of the jump in their respective votes can be directly linked to Bud Selig’s election from the Veterans Committee. Voters who had previously ridden the Hall-as-temple argument suddenly lost their raison d’etre and realized that the PED problem was an industry matter rather than a greedy players’ matter.

In short, they saw Selig getting in as tacit approval that the PED issue was no longer a moral one in baseball but a cynical one, a way to blame labor for management’s culpability. That is an irony whose existence Selig will almost surely deny, but it’s there anyway, and it represents one more non-glacial change in a system that has been nearly immovable for most of its existence.

The next change, of course, may be removing the vote from the BBWAA and turning it over to a more malleable panel of “experts” who may not skew as young and values-neutral as the BBWAA of the future seems to be heading. That course may be hastened if/when Bonds and Clemens are elected, because halls of fame in their more traditional role have been more about rewarding friends and punishing enemies, and a large and shifting electorate makes that harder to accomplish.

The argument against such a course, though, is that the current system of three months of fevered public debate about the same old stuff works for the Hall’s sense of its importance. I mean, MLB Network and its fetish for shrill argument only has so much reach.

By Friday, though, all of this will revert to its typically inert state. Bonds, Clemens (ATALE Schilling), PEDs, morality, practicality, secrecy, old voter/young voter – all of it will fade back into insignificance.

And in a year or two or maybe three, Bonds and Clemens will wipe it all out by being included in the one club that we once knew would never tolerate their presence, and the Hall Of Fame’s Golden Age Of Shrieking Argument will end.

In a weird and largely unpleasant way, it will be missed.