Lincecum edging closer to October readiness

886017.jpg

Lincecum edging closer to October readiness

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO Tim Lincecum reached a benchmark Tuesdaynight, and not just for himself while shutting out the Colorado Rockies in a6-3 victory.

Lincecum won his 10th game, becoming the fifthand final member of the Giants rotation to record double-digit victories.

The last time the Giants had five 10-game winners on staffwas in 2002, when they came within six outs of a World Series championship.

But the Giants didnt get within a breath of the trophya decade ago because Livan Hernandez, Kirk Rueter, Jason Schmidt, Russ Ortiz and Ryan Jensendominated in the postseason. They rode a humming offense, so loud it was barely street legal, with Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent firing like pistons.

It was a series dominated by big hits, big rallies, biggerhits and bigger rallies.

It was not the way most World Series are won.

No, the blueprint was, is and continues to be startingpitching, followed by airtight relief. Its about getting the matchups in the lateinnings. And its deep, dominant outings from the rotation that allows thosematchups to happen.

So the Giants understand that they need more than aserviceable Tim Lincecum if they want to be practical about shedding a postseason opponent or three.They might just need the pitcher who struck out 14 and threw a one-hitter inGame 1 of the 2010 NLDS vs. Atlanta.

They might not have that Lincecum again. But Tuesday night,they saw something that could work.

Lincecum went with the sinker-slider format and the Rockiesplayed into it during his 6 13 scoreless innings. He retired 11 consecutive atone stretch, with only one of those outs in the air.

What does that tell him?

Stuffs moving down, Lincecum said. Slider, sinker iswhat I went to today. Those are pitches Ive gotta work in to avoid those bighits and home runs. Some of them turn into strikeouts and some turn into greatplays by the infield.

The sum of them turn into a standing ovation, which is whatLincecum received as he walked off the mound. Jeremy Affeldt got thedouble-play grounder that ensured Lincecums ERA would fall (down to 4.91,below 5.00 for the first time this season, which induced a whoop-de-do armraise from Lincecum when informed of that afterwards).

It was Lincecums first home victory since July 31.

It just felt good being home, he said. Obviously, thispark helps, and having that crowd behind you, it gets you in your element. Itdefinitely helps you rise to the occasion in the big innings.

Its getting darker earlier and theres a familiar chill inthe air at China Basin. Postseason baseball is coming, to borrow a phrase fromNed Stark, and for all his problems with midterms, Lincecum always has aced thefinal.

The Giants will begin to order their postseason rotationsoon, and dont be surprised if Lincecum draws the No. 3 slot behind Matt Cainand Madison Bumgarner. The Giants are likely to open as the No. 3 seed againstCincinnati or Washington and play the first two at home before going on theroad. Its worth pointing out that Lincecum has won his last five road starts.

And if he can stay with his sinkerslider approach, perhapshe wont need the ample dimensions of AT&T Park to keep the ball from reachingthe seats.

That discussion aside, home and road matter less thanLincecum simply finding himself on the mound again. He isnt all the way backyet.

To get to that point where everything feels like it works byitself I havent gotten to that point yet, he said.

And yet he is so far from where he stood at the All-Starbreak.

Just focusing on that second half has alleviated thatpressure to do what I needed to be doing or what everybody thought I needed tobe doing, he said. Its about making good pitches and getting outs. Really,thats all theyre asking me to do. Thats all I need to do.

A final thought, Bruce Bochy?

You know, Timmys tough when hes on his game. And hes onit now, the manager said. Its good for all of us, believe me, to see himpitch like this.

Dodgers infielder weighs in on Harper's errant helmet throw

Dodgers infielder weighs in on Harper's errant helmet throw

Before the right hooks and haymakers, there was the helmet toss.

A very bad helmet toss.

As he made his way to the mound after getting hit by a pitch on Monday afternoon, Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper attempted to throw his helmet at Giants reliever Hunter Strickland. He missed by a wide margin.

Observers took notice, including Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner.

"What was worse, Harper's helmet throw or 50 Cents first pitch? Heads up in the #McCoveyCove," Turner tweeted shortly after the brawl between the Giants and Nationals.

Turner is referring to a ceremonial first pitch thrown by rapper 50 Cent prior to a Mets game in 2014.

Harper mentioned the helmet when addressing the situation after the game.

"I was trying to go after him, with the helmet or with myself, just doing what I needed to do keep it going, I guess," Harper told reporters.

 

Fight Notes: Harper thought this was over; Giants collide; Posey avoids it

Fight Notes: Harper thought this was over; Giants collide; Posey avoids it

SAN FRANCISCO — When the Nationals visited AT&T Park for the first time after the 2014 postseason series, Bryce Harper took to Instagram to compliment the city. “Nothing like SF! #BayArea” he wrote underneath a photo of the Bay Bridge. 

Harper, a Las Vegas kid, has always seemed to enjoy facing the Giants. He hasn’t hit well at AT&T Park, but he was a star in their 2014 matchup and he praised Brandon Crawford on Twitter during this year’s WBC. The greeting Monday was not a friendly one. 

Harper was retired three times by Matt Moore. The first pitch he saw from Hunter Strickland left a dent on his hip and set off a wild brawl. 

Strickland denied any intent. Harper seemed confused by the timing of the payback pitch. 

“It’s so in the past, it’s not even relevant anymore,” he said of their 2014 series, according to Dan Kolko of MASN. “They won the World Series that year. I don’t think he should even be thinking about what happened in the first round. He should be thinking about wearing that ring home every single night. I don’t know why he did it or what he did it for, but I guess it happens.”

The Giants were not surprised when Harper reacted the way he did. Now they’ll wait for Strickland to get hit with a suspension, and Harper is looking at a layoff, too. 

“You never want to get suspended or anything like that, but sometimes you’ve got to go and get him,” Harper said. “You can’t hesitate. You either go to first base or you go after him. And I decided to go after him.”

Strickland, about an hour after the fight, said he’s not sure what will happen in terms of discipline. 

“That’s their decision and obviously I’ll take whatever consequences come with it and we’ll go from there,” he said. 

Any action by the league is unlikely to impact this series. Even if suspensions are handed down swiftly, players can appeal. Harper and Strickland may not be alone. Several players jumped into the fray aggressively and at least one non-active Giant — Hunter Pence — was right in the middle of the scrum. At the very least, he could be facing a fine for trying to help his teammate. 

“It doesn't look good when a guy gets hit but also on their side, the guy throws his helmet,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Strickland’s got to stand his ground. There’s no choice there. I can’t tell you what’s going to happen (with suspensions).”

One player who won’t face discipline: Madison Bumgarner, who is also on the DL but wisely stayed away from this one, even if it probably killed him to do so. 

--- The biggest hit didn’t come from Strickland or Harper. It was Jeff Samardzija and Michael Morse coming together in the middle of the field. Both players said they were fine. 

"I was just trying to get in there to break everything up," Morse said. "We lost the game, that's what's most important."

Ahhh, yes, the Giants lost 3-0. Bochy seemed particularly peeved that Strickland chose the eighth inning of a 2-0 game to exact revenge, and you can bet some teammates weren't thrilled. We'll see if there's anything more to this Tuesday. There was a lot of adrenaline flowing, but some of these guys might not be feeling so spry when they wake up in the morning. Bochy said he had not heard any reports of players getting injured, but he also admitted that he didn't see most of the collisions and had no idea what happened with Morse and Samardzija, who had a world-class reaction, by the way.  

--- As with the incident with the Dodgers a couple weeks ago, Buster Posey stayed out of this one. Smartly. 

"After it happened I saw Harper point and the next thing you know he's going out after them," Posey said. "Those are some big guys tumbling on the ground. You see Michael Morse, as big as he is, and he's getting knocked around like a pinball."

Posey is not alone in staying away from these scrums where 250-pound dudes are flying at knees and ankles. Brandon Crawford can often be found on the outside, as well. It's smart, but I think something else was at play here today. Posey understands that the Giants are fighting for every scrap at this point. Every loss digs the hole that much deeper, and this happened with two outs in the eighth inning of a 2-0 game, against a team with a poor bullpen. I'd imagine there was some serious annoyance there. 

--- How angry was Strickland? It took three guys, three big guys, to drag him into the dugout: Pence, Mac Williamson, and George Kontos. 

"I was pretty fired up to be honest with you, but that’s just adrenaline," he said. 

--- Baseball fights are rather silly, but at least you get some phenomenal photos.