Is it time for Giants to skip Lincecum's start?


Is it time for Giants to skip Lincecum's start?


SEATTLE The Giants must ask themselves the questionnow.

They are 0-9 with Tim Lincecum on the mound since the end ofApril. He has a 6.19 ERA that ranks 121st out of 124 major leaguepitchers with a minimum of 10 starts. He mixed flashes of brilliance with justenough mistakes to send him to another defeat Saturday night, this one in hishometown, during the Giants 7-4 loss at Safeco Field.

His next day to pitch comes on a day off. It would be soeasy for the Giants to skip their ace. Should they?

Lincecum made his feelings known on the subject. They were unequivocal.

Asked if he would fight to avoid being skipped, the28-year-old had a light in his eyes and a quick response.

Yeah, I want to pitch every fifth day, he said. I wantthat ball.

Thats the answer the Giants should want to hear. Even asthe club has lost again and again with him on the mound, even as his outingsunraveled in every way they could unravel, Lincecum has not shied away from taking the baseball.

His teammates sense that.

Each time out, I assume hell go out and pitch like he hasthe last couple years, shortstop Brandon Crawford said. I dont think of himas being a guy who dwells on his last start. I think he just goes out wantingto throw a shutout, and thinking hell do it every time.

This would have been a perfect time, and a perfect opponent.Lincecum was making his first career start at Safeco Field, just a few milesfrom where he starred at Liberty High in Renton and at the University ofWashington. He made changes in his last bullpen session to shorten and simplifyhis delivery that encouraged both he and the coaching staff. And he was facing a Mariners lineup that ranks among the mostfeeble in the league.

He insisted he was not amped up when Casper Wells crushed amistake fastball and Jesus Montero hit a slider for home runs in the firstinning.

No, just didnt execute the pitch to Casper and personallyI felt it wasnt a bad pitch to Montero, Lincecum said. He just put a goodswing on it. After that I just tried to settle down after that inning and, youknow, pace myself.

He did, retiring 10 of the next 11 hitters while the Giantsgave him a 4-2 lead.

But he hit a snag in the fifth, when Dustin Ackley hit aleadoff single. And forced to operate from the stretch for just the second timein the game, the unraveling began again.

Lincecum said his pitches just got away on a four-pitchwalk to John Jaso. But what Lincecum really regretted was Ichiro Suzukischopper up the middle, which barely evaded the pitchers glove. Second basemanRyan Theriot did well to smother the ball and keep it on the infield for an RBIsingle.

Then came the other major mistake. He choked down on an offspeed pitch that bounced in the dirt and off Buster Posey's chest protector. The Mariners scored the tying run on the wild pitch.

I felt like I could have gone another inning if I justcatch the ball that was right to me, the one Ichiro hit, Lincecum said. Ijust missed it. I shouldve caught it. I was able to catch that ball.

The almost catchable ball became a theme in the sixth, after Lincecum exited to aloud, supportive ovation following Monteros leadoff single.

Left-hander Jeremy Affeldt didnt execute a pitch to MichaelSaunders for a line single. After that, all three of the Mariners hits were onthe ground.

Crawford ranged across the middle to field Ackleys grounderbut looked to tag the runner heading to second base, then double-clutched andcouldnt record an out. Third baseman Joaquin Arias tried to backhand FranklinGutierrezs grounder down the line and couldnt make a clean stop. If he had,he couldve beaten the runner to third base or at least gotten an out at first.

Montero scored the tiebreaking run on the play, then Brendan Ryan followed with a two-run singlethat kicked off the mound and into center field.

Affeldt could only shake his head.

Youre getting ground balls, you know? he said. Guys werejust safe. Nothing you can do. I felt I got the ground balls to get out of thatinning. It just didnt happen. They were just in-between scenarios. Crawfordturned to tag the guy, the ball to third didnt happen. You walk away from thatinning and theres nothing you can do.

I could make the same pitches tomorrow and they might allbe outs.

It was not lost on Affeldt. This happened on Lincecums day.And because Affeldts inherited runner scored the tiebreaking run, the lossbelonged to Lincecum, too.

You just feel bad for Timmy, Affeldt said. I felt I couldhave gotten out of it for him and I didnt. He needed a break tonight. He just he cant get a break.

Hopefully hell turn it around, and Ive seen it happen toa pitcher. Hell get to the second half and the guy will be unhittable, having thetime of his life out there. I really believe if he keeps grinding it out,things will turn. Its just a matter of time and belief and getting the ball tobounce the right way.

It almost pains Giants manager Bruce Bochy to deliver the same patter after Lincecums losses. But it seems to be the only thing to say:

Hes too good at times, Bochy said. Thats why we keepsaying, Hes close, hes close.

It seems like he gets out of sync when hes out of thestretch. Theres a ground-ball hit and a walk, similar to most of his othergames. He settled down and was throwing great. He just got out of sync there.He was pitching his heart out and we let the game get out of reach. Its hardto explain because hes so good at times and then he has his hiccups.

Said Affeldt: It probably seems to him right now that everymistake he makes, its going to get hit. Its not going to get fouled off ortaken for a strike or hit at someone. Thats not the zone hes in now.

Details aside, Lincecum has a 6.19 ERA. And the box score will show that he took another loss.

Yeah, thats pretty much what you look at, he said of the result. Imjust going to be looking at that L obviously and breaking down that outing asthe days come. Right now, Im not happy about the loss. Theres silver liningshere, you know, so Ill take those, but yeah. Im just Im pissed.

And he wants the ball again, as soon as possible.

Bobby Evans opens up on Giants’ concussion issues this season


Bobby Evans opens up on Giants’ concussion issues this season

The injury bug has taken one unpredictable bite out of the Giants' 2017 season. Recently, they have been hit hard by concussions, both in the big leagues and with their top draft pick. 

San Francisco is currently without the right side of its infield in Brandon Belt and Joe Panik as they sit on the 7-day concussion DL. Heliot Ramos, who the Giants took No. 19 overall in the 2017 MLB Draft, is the latest to take a hit to the head

Ramos, 17, was hit by a pitch Sunday night in the Arizona Rookie League.

Giants GM Bobby Evans was asked in an interview with The Athletic Wednesday how the recent uptick in concussions have changed how the team handles the injury. 

I think the concern continues around the game and around all of sports. We are very much aware of the risks associated with not allowing a player to fully recover from one.

We want to make sure in every form that we get guys healthy and that they aren’t playing again until they are ready to go. That takes patience on our part, but I applaud the work of baseball to protect the player and obviously appreciate the diligence of what our medical staff does to continue to monitor even the smallest sign of a concussion.

Belt has now sustained four concussions in his career between college and pro ball. His return to the team this season is still up in the air. Panik, who was also concussed last season after getting hit in the head by now-teammate Matt Moore, played in his first rehab game Tuesday night with the Sacramento River Cats.

Along with Ramos, who was hitting .348 with six home runs at the time of his injury, top picks Jacob Gonzalez and Aaron Bond have impressed Evans with their play in the Rookie League. 

It’s tough to come into a league like that and hit for average and contribute the way that they have. They’ve put themselves in a very good position to start their careers. We are proud of them and are hopeful that we can continue to see more from them as they progress through the system.

Their regular season will end here shortly and then they will go into at some point an Instructional League and then move on to an offseason before they come in next spring. I think they’ve got to be very proud of what they have accomplished this season.

Five mistakes that will haunt Giants after 77th loss of 2017

Five mistakes that will haunt Giants after 77th loss of 2017

SAN FRANCISCO — If the Giants were in a different situation, Tuesday night’s loss was the kind that really would sting for a few days. As is, it was simply loss No. 77 in a stunningly bad season. 

The Giants went down 4-3 in somewhat familiar fashion, with their offense failing to break through and their bullpen coming up short. But this loss, No. 77, was also about small mistakes, both mental and physical. Let’s count down some of the ways the Giants went down:

--- Gorkys Hernandez, a late addition to the lineup because Hunter Pence has a tight hamstring, dropped a fly ball in deep right in the fourth inning. That cost Jeff Samardzija a run and a few more pitches. Bruce Bochy said Pence likely will be off Wednesday and then return Friday in Arizona. 

--- Bochy pulled Samardzija after just 89 pitches, and it was certainly peculiar in the moment. The thing is, the intention fit in with the reality of this season. Samardzija has carried a heavy load and Bochy was trying to protect his arm a bit. 

“The inning before, he logged some pitches,” Bochy said. “I’ve worked him pretty hard and I’m really looking after him as much as anything. We’re trying to give some guys a break and it didn’t work out. We had some guys lined up in the seventh, eighth, ninth — it just didn’t work out in the seventh.”

--- You can’t really argue with protecting a big-money pitcher in a down year. But Bochy probably wishes he had chosen someone other than Albert Suarez, who was fresher than others but has now given up runs in six of seven appearances. Suarez turned a one-run lead into a one-run deficit. It was more glaring when Kyle Crick entered and pitched 1 1/3 sharp innings. 

--- The Giants still had a chance — it helped that the Brewers took a dominant Josh Hader out of the game just because he’s a lefty and Nick Hundley bats right-handed — and they put two on in the eighth. Denard Span hit a soft single to right and Phil Nevin waved Hundley, who has catcher’s legs. He was out by a mile. Bochy said he was fine with forcing the issue there, although that’s a call Nevin probably wants back. 

Another twist on the play: Bochy could have put speedy Orlando Calixte in for Hundley and then moved Pablo Sandoval over to first in the next inning, with Calixte at third. He didn’t second-guess that decision.

“He was out pretty easily,” Bochy said. “I don’t know if a little more speed would have helped out.”

--- In the bottom of the ninth, Kelby Tomlinson singled. He was promptly caught stealing second with the heart of the order coming up. Again, a decision that went the visiting team’s way. 

Those moments could be defended or second-guessed. On another night, maybe they all work out and the Giants win 3-2, or 6-4. On this night, it was simply a familiar script, and loss No. 77.