EXTRA BAGGS: Playing the Lincecum 'what-if' game, etc.


EXTRA BAGGS: Playing the Lincecum 'what-if' game, etc.

WASHINGTON If you are searching for positives after TimLincecum melted like an ice cream cake in Tuesday nights 9-3 loss to theWashington Nationals, then sorry.

Unless you like ice cream soup, we dont have much for you.

But there is this: Even though Giants manager Bruce Bochypulled most of his starters, including Angel Pagan as early as the fourthinning, the entire team save Wednesday starter Madison Bumgarner stayed tothe final out.

Ordinarily, that would not merit special mention. But thegame was delayed nearly 90 minutes by a thunderstorm in the seventh inning. AndWednesdays first pitch is at 11:05 a.m.

No, no, they wanted to stay as a team, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. Itsnot too bad. Well have a bus that leaves at 9 a.m. Theyre all still here.

Said Pagan: You want to be here to the last out to supportyour team.

As mentioned in the Instant Replay story, the Giants areexactly halfway through the season and they have 45 victories in 81 games. Theyare on pace for 90 victories. If they had won Tuesday night, they wouldve hadthe most victories in the National League.

What if the Giants were a meager 9-8 instead of 4-13 in TimLincecums starts?

They would be 50-31, tied with the Texas Rangers for thebest record in the majors. And, with the Dodgers result still pending as ofthis writing, the Giants would hold a six-game lead in the NL West.

If I had told you the Giants would be 9-8 in Lincecumsfirst 17 starts, youd have been disappointed.

Interesting stat from my pal Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports:The leader in the NL West on the Fourth of July has failed to win the divisionin four of the past five seasons.

So much for the whole whos catching Tim Lincecumcontroversy.

I figured itd end either way with Tuesdays start.

Outcome No. 1: Lincecum would have another good outing withHector Sanchez, giving him momentum that could be viewed as a little moresustainable. Call it the string and the top effect. Then Bruce Bochy couldswitch back to pairing Buster Posey with a more confident Lincecum.

Outcome No. 2: Lincecum would have a bad start, proving thetheory that it doesnt really matter who catches No. 55. It comes down toexecuting pitches. So hed switch back to Posey, so long as the schedulepermits him to catch.

Bochy originally turned to Sanchez because the Giants hadlost nine consecutive starts with Lincecum on the mound. Something had tochange. After the wheel came up red, he put more chips down. After it hit redagain, Bochy didnt want to mess with a good thing, and besides, the scheduledictated that Posey would have to take a break from catching either Tuesday orWednesday. Made sense to me.

Now Lincecum has around 17 starts remaining, and Ill wagerthat Posey will catch at least a dozen of them. Color me up, Monsieur Croupier.

The rub of having Sanchez catch Lincecum is that it forces Bochy to choose between starting Posey and Brandon Belt at first base. Belt is on a tear at the plate.

What about putting Belt in left field, and perhaps sitting Gregor Blanco?

I asked Belt the last time he took a fly ball in batting practice. "Spring training," he said.

It might be an option in the future, Bochy said. But he wasn't going to try it in one-off fashion Tuesday. Belt acknowledged he is more comfortable at first base, and playing there and only there probably has helped him settle in and make adjustments at the plate without adding another element of uncertainty.

"But if they asked me, I'd go out there," he told me. "I think I'd be OK."

Angel Villalona still doesnt have his U.S. visa and thatprocess remains a bureaucratic mess. But the one-time 2.1 million bonus baby is playing in Dominican SummerLeague games for the Giants affiliate. And hes doing quite well.

Villalona had a .407 average with two home runs in 14 games.Hes even drawn seven walks compared to 14 strikeouts in 54 at-bats.

Then again, Villalona should be dominating the competition.The former teenage prospect is now a soon-to-turn 22-year-old playing againstmostly teenagers.

If you've forgotten, Villalona hasn't stepped foot in the U.S. since he was arrested and charged in the 2009 fatal shooting of a barroom patron in the Dominican Republic. After two years, the charges were dropped -- reportedly because witnesses changed their stories.

Youve probably heard this a billion times already, but for Wednesdays 11:05 a.m.game here in Washington, the first bus will leave the Giants' hotel at 8 a.m. The second bus will leave at9 a.m.

I just wish Guillermo Mota were still on the active roster.Id take 10:47 in the Mota arrival pool.

No Indians first pitch for 'Wild Thing' in World Series


No Indians first pitch for 'Wild Thing' in World Series

CLEVELAND -- Wild Thing will have to stay in the bullpen during the World Series.

While actor Charlie Sheen, who played Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn in the movie "Major League" offered to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before one of this year's World Series games, Major League Baseball said the choices have already been made.

A spokesman told the AP on Friday that MLB has worked with the Indians to identify "former franchise greats" to throw out the first pitch for the games in Cleveland. An announcement is expected early next week.

The Indians host Games 1 and 2 on Tuesday and Wednesday. If necessary, Cleveland will host Games 6 and 7 on Nov. 1-2.

There had been a movement by fans on social media for Sheen to throw the first pitch and be part of the pregame festivities.

Sheen got wind of the buzz and responded on Twitter, posting a photo of himself as Vaughn in his Indians uniform and wrote, "Major League continues to be the gift that keeps on giving! if called upon, I'd be honored."

Sheen made an appearance during the playoffs at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday when the Chicago Cubs beat Los Angeles in Game 4 of the NL Championship Series.

Released in 1989, "Major League" is a fictional account of the Indians finishing in first place with an unconventional group of players including Vaughn, who struggled to find the strike zone and warmed up to "Wild Thing," a No. 1 hit song in 1966 by The Troggs.

The real Cleveland Indians, who overcame injuries to win the AL Central, before knocking off Boston and Toronto in the playoffs, took a page from "Major League" this season.

Slugger Mike Napoli and second baseman Jason Kipnis constructed a shrine in an empty clubhouse stall between their lockers like one in the movie. In the film, character Pedro Cerrano practices Voodoo and prays to an idol named, "Jobu" to help him hit curveballs.

Like Cerrano, Napoli and Kipnis have their own "Jobu" and have left gifts, including small bottles of rum and cigars, to keep them out of hitting slumps.

Cubs homer twice in win over Dodgers; tie NLCS 2-2


Cubs homer twice in win over Dodgers; tie NLCS 2-2


LOS ANGELES -- Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell and the rest of the Chicago Cubs' bats broke out in a big way.

Rizzo homered and ended a postseason slump with three RBIs, Russell's two-run drive highlighted a four-run fourth that stopped Chicago's 21-inning scoreless streak, and the Cubs routed the Los Angeles Dodgers 10-2 on Wednesday to even the NL Championship Series at 2-all.

Kenta Maeda is set to pitch for the Dodgers in Game 5 on Thursday against Jon Lester. Before the game, manager Dave Roberts said he will not start Clayton Kershaw on short rest after the Los Angeles ace threw a bullpen session Wednesday.

Chicago ensured the NLCS will return to Wrigley Field for Game 6 Saturday.

To break out of his prolonged slump, Rizzo used teammate Matt Szczur's bat.

"I know Szczur's bat has a lot of hits in it," Rizzo said. "I've done it a few times this year, just switching up the bat, switching up the mindset."

Following consecutive shutout losses, the Cubs rapped out 13 hits on an 80-degree night with the warm Santa Ana winds fluttering the flags in center field.

Rizzo and Russell had three hits each. Chicago's 3-4-5 hitters - a combined 2 for 32 in the first three games - busted out. Every Cubs starter got at least one hit except Kris Bryant, who walked twice.

"Today was a must-win for us," Ben Zobrist said.

Los Angeles was limited to six hits and made four errors in a game that dragged on for 3 hours, 58 minutes.

Mike Montgomery won in relief of John Lackey, who was chased after consecutive walks opening the fifth. Four days shy of his 38th birthday, Lackey allowed two runs, three hits and three walks.

Julio Urias, at 20 years, 68 days the youngest postseason starting pitcher in major league history, gave up four runs and four hits in 3 2/3 innings. He was the third consecutive left-hander to start the series for Los Angeles.

Chicago rattled off three straight hits to open the fourth, sparked by Zobrist's leadoff bunt single to third.

"With the way that our bats were swinging it at the beginning of the game, we just had to do anything we could. That was my thought process," Zobrist said. "I felt like if he threw a strike, I could get one down in a good spot and was able to do it.

He took second on Javier Baez's single to left, and Willson Contreras followed with a single to nearly the same spot in shallow left, scoring Zobrist.

Baez moved up to third and Contreras took second on left fielder Andrew Toles' errant throw to the plate that skidded all the way to the backstop.

Jayson Heyward hit a run-scoring groundout, and Russell followed with his first extra-base hit since Sept. 30 and his first homer since Sept. 19. He jubilantly pumped an arm as he rounded the bases on his two-run drive, which put the Cubs ahead 4-0.

Rizzo homered off Pedro Baez leading off the fifth, snapping his 0-for-11 skid in the series. Rizzo had entered 2 for 26 in the postseason.

Los Angeles closed to 5-2 in the fifth. With the bases loaded and one out, Justin Turner's likely double-play grounder caromed off Montgomery's outstretched glove and Russell, who scrambled on all fours at shortstop as the ball went into left-center field for a two-run single.

Chicago tacked on five runs in the sixth off relievers Ross Stripling and Luis Avilan. Dexter Fowler singled in the first run, Rizzo added two more on a bases-loaded single and Javier Baez hit a sacrifice fly, with a second run scoring on an error by center fielder Joc Pederson.


Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez was tagged out at home to end the second. A sliding Gonzalez stretched his left hand toward the tip of the plate as catcher Contreras applied the tag with his left hand near Gonzalez's upper left arm.

The Dodgers challenged Angel Hernandez's call, which was upheld on video review. That drew online scorn from Washington star Bryce Harper.

"He was safe! Replay system still broke..Same thing all year long! (hashtag)DontMessItUp," Harper tweeted.


Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully will attend Thursday's game, his first time back at Dodger Stadium since calling his last home game on Sept. 25. The 88-year-old ended his 67-year career this month with the regular-season finale at San Francisco.


Cubs reliever Carl Edwards Jr. left in the seventh because of left hamstring tightness.


Ashton Kutcher and wife Mila Kunis announced the Dodgers' starting lineup. Also on hand were Rob Lowe, Charlie Sheen, George Lopez, Larry King and Mary Hart.


Lester allowed one run in six innings of Game 1 in the series, getting a no-decision in Chicago's 8-4 victory. ... Maeda has a 9.00 ERA in two postseason appearances. He allowed three runs and four hits in four innings of the NLCS opener and didn't factor in the decision.