All signs point to Lincecum not starting in NLDS


All signs point to Lincecum not starting in NLDS

Two years ago, Bruce Bochy ignored Barry Zito's contract, studied his games, and made him the fifth wheel in the Giants' four-man playoff rotation, to much consternation and wagging of tongues. This time, Bochy seems to have doubled down and done the same to Tim Lincecum, despite the same contractual and historical perceptions, and for the same reason. Results.

Bochy announced Ryan Vogelsong will pitch Game 3 Tuesday, and barring a complete change of heart regarding Barry Zito or a need to bring back Matt Cain on short rest in Game 4, the decision on Lincecum is as close to official as not actually saying it can be.

In short, Bochy has done everything but shout it out.

In addition, Lincecum worked with the relievers earlier today, which is another dot that can only be connected one way. Thus, Lincecum's elevated place in the pitching hierarchy apparently has been rendered less important than his substandard resume this year.

The decision can be considered surprising to some because:

(a) Lincecum is Lincecum and has the Cy Young bookends to prove it;

(b) Vogelsong seemed the likeliest candidate for bullpen work, especially in Cincinnati had either Zito or Lincecum struggled in the absurdly friendly confines of Great American Ball Park;

(c) How many Cy Young winners and franchise faces get reduced to scut work so soon after the acme of their careers?

But there is one reason why it makes perfect sense, even with all the payroll, political and long-term implications that might be implied, namely this:

Bruce Bochy manages the ball team, not the payroll. He did it with Zito and Pablo Sandoval two years ago (although Sandoval wasn't so much a payroll consideration), and even though Lincecum has more on his Baseball Reference page than most people his age, nothing about his 2012 suggested anything but a cul de sac in his career.

Lincecum presumably will become the principal long man if such a creature is needed, but it is likelier still that there will be no opportunities for Bochy to use him in this series unless something has gone dramatically wrong for the Giants. Bochy's decision delay in announcing the rotation probably comes in part to protect Lincecum from the media grilling, but the decision to go with Vogelsong had been made awhile ago, perhaps as much as two weeks. Bochy kept his options open, but Lincecum's last few outings dipped while Vogelsong's rose, and Zito had long ago established his CV as a member of the rotation.

The announcement is binding only for Cincinnati, of course, and Bochy can revisit the issue for any subsequent series. But for the moment, Bochy showed that he is not only large and in charge as he was in 2010, but that he is far bolder with his lineups than any of his critics are willing to admit. Indeed, Lincecum got significant applause from the crowd before the game because he still has throw-weight in the stands.

But he does not have quite so much with the manager when the results run at such odds with the history. Whether the Lincecum move works, doesn't, or has no effect at all remains to be seen, but it is the move that seemed one step beyond until Bochy did what he did two years ago.

Go on record rather than rep.

Ray Ratto is a columnist at

Span clinches win for Giants and Gearrin, who had walk-off dreams of his own

Span clinches win for Giants and Gearrin, who had walk-off dreams of his own

SAN FRANCISCO — With the winning run on second and a bat in his hands, Cory Gearrin allowed himself to dream. He was a second baseman at Mercer University years ago and he entered the night with a 1.000 batting average in the big leagues. Why couldn’t this be his night on the mound and at the plate?

Gearrin stopped on the way to the plate and told Buster Posey that he was going to walk it off. He dug in against right-hander Chad Qualls and waited for the first sinker. He swung over the top of it, but he felt it was a quality hack. And then he missed the next sinker, and then the next. 

“I felt good going into that at-bat,” Gearrin said. “It was fun getting that opportunity. I’ve never faced a sinker like that. I felt like I missed it … by a lot.”

Gearrin can take solace in two facts. First, using his own sinker, he pitched three shutout innings, more than earning his keep, and he was a well-deserved winning pitcher in a 4-3 win over the Rockies that became official one minute after midnight.

Second, perhaps he gave the next hitter, Denard Span, a better view of an opposing pitcher’s repertoire. 

“Yeah ... he gave me a lot of information during that at-bat,” Span said as he laughed. 

Okay, so maybe Gearrin’s contributions were limited to the mound, but oh what a job he did against one of the best lineups in the National League. Span didn’t glean anything from Gearrin’s brief battle, but he didn’t need to. He spat on a changeup and then ripped a sinker into right, allowing Gorkys Hernandez to race home for a 14th-inning victory. 

Span, who is open about his distrust of birds, had spent nearly two hours standing under a circling flock of seagulls. Between pitches, he often dropped his hands onto his knees, looking more eager than anyone for the night to end. 

“Those birds were dropping stuff all around me,” he said. “I was like, you know what man, I don’t got time for this.”

The single gave the Giants back-to-back wins for the first time since May 27-28. It validated so much good work, from the five relievers who got the ball to Gearrin, to the Brandons who turned a snazzy double play in the 11th, to Buster Posey, who twice threw out runners at second in extra innings. Gearrin shouted out the defense in his post game media session. 

“It’s not news to us that we’ve got gold glovers all over the field,” he said. 

The Giants trailed by a pair after Matt Cain hung a curveball to Mark Reynolds, but they chipped away. The Rockies were the jumpier team in extra innings, but every rally was cut down by stellar defense and quality pitches. Gearrin threw 34 of them. 

The veteran right-hander had never before recorded more than six outs in a big league game. He got nine outs Tuesday, giving Bochy one extension after another as he battled to make it through a game shorthanded. With Conor Gillaspie headed to the DL, the Giants had just three position players on the bench. That meant Ty Blach was used as a pinch-runner. Jeff Samardzija pinch-hit in the 11th. Bochy thought of using Matt Moore in the 14th when the pitcher’s spot came up. Hunter Strickland was warming up to pitch the 15th, but …

“I could have hit Moore — I probably should have,” Bochy said, smiling. “But Cory is a pretty good athlete and had a pretty good average going into that at-bat. The numbers swayed me.”

Gearrin got his first career at-bat last season and singled. He has not even taken batting practice since that day, but he was fired up when given the opportunity. He was still so fired up after the Giants chased Span into the outfield that he didn’t mind the fact that his shiny 1.000 batting average has been cut in half. 

“I got to use that line for a year,” he said. “But I’ll gladly sacrifice the 1.000 average for a walk-off win.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 14-inning win over Rockies

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 14-inning win over Rockies


SAN FRANCISCO — This, at long last, is a winning streak. A modest one, but still. 

Denard Span hit a walk-off single to right in the bottom of the 14th inning, giving the Giants a 4-3 win that became official one minute after midnight. The Giants have back-to-back wins for the first time since May 27-28. 

The Giants led early, fell behind on a three-run dinger, and then chipped away until the game went to extras. Buster Posey twice gunned runners down at second to help keep the score tied and the bullpen held tough, with Cory Gearrin throwing three scoreless innings. 

Gearrin had a chance to win it for himself in the 14th, but he struck out with Gorkys Hernandez on second. Span promptly singled. If you’re just waking up for work, here are five things to know from a night when the seagulls outnumbered the humans … 

--- Matt Cain needs an assist on the first run of the night. With Gorkys Hernandez on first, he got a sacrifice bunt down on a two-strike curveball that was headed for the dirt. Hernandez went to second and promptly scored on Denard Span’s single to right. The curveball wasn’t so kind in the sixth. With a runner on, the Giants intentionally walked lifelong nemesis Nolan Arenado to get to Mark Reynolds. Cain hung a curve and Reynolds crushed it to left for a three-run homer. 

--- The Giants got a run back in the sixth when Brandon Crawford’s deep fly allowed Buster Posey to trot in from third. Crawford leads the majors with nine sacrifice flies. He also turned a ridiculous double play that can’t adequately be described, except to say that he should expand his trophy case. 

--- Kelby Tomlinson came off the bench to tie it in the bottom of the eighth. His single to right brought Brandon Belt in from third. Tomlinson is 9 for 27 as a pinch-hitter this season. That’ll keep you on the chartered jets. 

--- Sam Dyson, with a fastball that reached 97 and an infield defense that was just as firm, pitched 1 2/3 shutout innings in extras. What a find. 

--- With the go-ahead run on first and no outs in the 13th, Nolan Arenado put down a sacrifice bunt. That's one of the five best moments of the Giants' season.