Lack of first-inning rhythm dooms Lincecum in loss

865969.jpg

Lack of first-inning rhythm dooms Lincecum in loss

SAN FRANCISCO Tim Lincecum beat Tim Hudson in one categoryon Sunday.Lincecum had four strikeouts in five innings to Hudsons three in seven. Infact, in by far the worst season of Lincecums career, he is still striking outmore than a batter an inning with 155 punch-outs in 151 innings.But maybe its time for Lincecum to take a tip from Hudson, who doesnt havethe gaudy strikeout numbers that Lincecum has become known for since he startedblowing through Pac-10 hitters at the University of Washington. Hudson wasclearly the better pitcher Sunday, as he led his Braves to a series split witha 7-1 win over the first-place Giants.I do think you learn from watching other players, Giants manager Bruce Bochysaid. The way Hudson pitched tonight shows you how important it is to poundthe strike zone and use your defense and thats what he did. Keep the ball downand hit your spots and you dont need to try strike out guys. Thats what makeshim successful.Lincecum wasnt ready to admit he should emulate Hudson,pointing out that the 14-year MLB veteran depends on a sinker that hasdifferent action than Lincecums running, two-seam fastball. Definitely, Lincecum said, when asked if he could learnfrom Hudson. But, I mean, Im not a sinkerball pitcher, either. So I cantjust rely on a sinker thats going to keep dropping down as the game goes on. Iguess those are things that you could add in to your repertoire. Mines justbeen consistently getting a good, running two-seamer. Lincecum, the man with just nine quality starts in 27outings this season after throwing 52 combined in his Cy Young years of 2008and 2009, instead blamed yet another poor performance on rhythm. He walked leadoffman Michael Bourn and gave up two singles and issued another free pass en routeto a two-run deficit before his offense even got a chance against Hudson. Atlantassecond run came on a single off the bat of Braves catcher Brian McCann, who droppeda bloop perfectly in between second baseman Marco Scutaro, centerfielder AngelPagan and rightfielder Hunter Pence. But its still a line drive in the boxscore.I was fighting myself a lot in that first inning to find a rhythm, Lincecumsaid. You hope to get bad contact and I did on the ground ball (a JasonHeyward single) and the blooper by McCann, but those dont necessarily go inyour favor.Bochysassessment was similar: Lincecum simply struggled to find the proper mechanicsthat leads to a rhythm that at one time made him so dominant.He was fighting himself quite a bit, Bochy said. He wasout of synch out there. We even talked about it during the game. He felt likehe was too quick. He was trying to get his rhythm out there. And I dont knowif he was over-amped or what the first inning, but he just had trouble gettingthe ball where he wanted.Unfortunately for the Giants, early problems have become more of the rule thanthe exception with Lincecum this season. He has now given up 25 runs in thefirst frame, which leads the major leagues.The first inning is a critical inning, Bochy said. Thats when thepitcher is trying to get in synch and get in a rhythm. And good pitchers,sometimes you say you have to get them early before they get settled in. WithTimmy, its been an issue at times.Lincecum didnt dance around the problem in his postgameinterview, sharing the now-typical soul searching that has followed many of hispoor outings.You always feel like you couldve avoided it had you madebetter pitches, Lincecum said. So when those two runs do score, or a run doesscore on a bloop, you just end up blaming yourself. I was just getting behindon batters and wasnt really attacking the zone in that first inning, which ledto those runs.The Braves added a third run against Lincecum in the fourth inning on a homerun by Juan Francisco that travelled over 450 feet to the right-centerfieldbleachers. Lincecum finished the fourth, but was pulled for a pinch-hitter inthe bottom half after throwing 90 pitches.I felt better, more consistent throughout the next fourinnings, Lincecum said. But I wasted my pitches in the first.Lincecum threw 32 pitches in the first, while Hudson needed just seven first-inningpitches to get through Pagan, Scutaro and Pablo Sandoval, who finished 0-for-4on his bobblehead day.The Giants first three batters have been carrying the team of late, butcombined to go 0-for-11 with a walk on Sunday. A rhythm-less Lincecum coupled witha hitless top of the lineup is a sure recipe for a Giants loss. The top of the order is always critical to your offense,Bochy said. Angel, what a job hes done. And Scutaro really all of them.Sometimes youve got to give credit to the pitching and these last two starts,theyve thrown the ball very well.Hudson, effectively using his sinker to keep the Giants bats quiet and hispitch count down, cruised through seven innings and now owns a six-game winstreak against San Francisco, spanning nine starts. He was on top of his game, Bochy said. It was strike oneit seemed like to every hitter. And thats how you want to pitch.Thats how Bochy wants to see Lincecum pitch, too. Instead, Lincecum went 3-0,2-0, and 2-0 to the first three batters he faced. While that certainly doesntsuggest Lincecum is on the brink of turning his season around, the one thingthat keeps him positive is his own optimism. When the bad starts keep pilingup, how does he do it?Just knowing that the next day is a new day, Lincecum said.I know that sounds really clich, but you can always come back from the dayand work hard and not leave anything out there.

Santiago Casilla says he never received offer from Giants

Santiago Casilla says he never received offer from Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — Over the final month of his time with the Giants, it became clear that Santiago Casilla and the team would part ways. On Friday, Casilla confirmed that he never had the opportunity to return. 

On a conference call to announce a two-year deal with the Oakland A’s, Casilla said he “would have been happy to return to the Giants, but I never got an offer from them. I understood.”

Casilla said he had several opportunities to go elsewhere and close, mentioning the Milwaukee Brewers as one interested team. Casilla signed a two-year, $11 million deal with the A’s, who likely won’t need him to pitch in the ninth. The Brewers went on to bring in Neftali Feliz for one year and $5.35 million; he is expected to close. 

“I preferred to return to the Athletics because that’s where my career started,” Casilla said through interpreter Manolo Hernández Douen. “And I’m very excited.”

Casilla spent the first six years of his career with the A’s before crossing the bridge and becoming a key figure in three title runs. In seven seasons in San Francisco, he posted a 2.42 ERA and saved 123 games. Casilla had a 0.92 ERA in the postseason, but he was stripped of a prominent role in the weeks leading up to the 2016 playoffs. 

Casilla, 36, blew nine saves before being pulled from the ninth inning. He appeared just three times in the final 14 regular season games and just once in the playoffs. He did not take the mound in Game 4 of the NLDS, watching as five other relievers teamed up to give back a three-run lead. 

That moment stung Casilla, and it affected Bruce Bochy, too. The Giants struck quickly in December to bring Mark Melancon in as their new closer, but at the Winter Meetings, Bochy said he would welcome Casilla back in a setup role. 

“He’s a great team player (and) teammate,” Bochy said. “(I) certainly wouldn’t rule it out because he still has great stuff. And he had some hiccups there in that closing role, but I would take him anytime.”

As it turned out, that opportunity was never there for Casilla. The Giants didn’t make another move after the big deal with Melancon, and they’ll rely on younger arms to record most of the outs in the seventh and eighth. Casilla said he’s not bitter about the way it all ended. 

“I have left that in the past,” he said. “It’s a new year, it’s a new year. I have left this in the past.” 

Authorities: Two Dodgers security guards arrested, accused of theft

la-dodgers-hat.jpg

Authorities: Two Dodgers security guards arrested, accused of theft

LOS ANGELES -- Prosecutors say two security guards at Los Angeles' Dodger Stadium have been arrested and are accused of stealing equipment, baseballs and jerseys from the major league team to sell online.

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office says Juan DeDios Prada and Fernando Sierra pleaded not guilty to burglary and other charges Thursday.

Prosecutors say the two security guards conspired with a third man, Jesse Luis Dagnesses, to steal baseball uniforms and other team merchandise to sell online.

They say Prada and Sierra stole more than $3,400 from a locked equipment room at the stadium between January 2013 and February 2016.

Authorities say Dagnesses is accused of receiving $950 in stolen baseballs and jerseys.

It wasn't immediately clear if the men had attorneys who could comment on the allegations.