Giants

Lincecum left to self-reflect in Seattle

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Lincecum left to self-reflect in Seattle

Its sunny in Seattle today, which doesnt fit either Tim Lincecums mood or desire. He was likely looking forward to wrapping himself in the grey and damp of his native land -- after two starts in sweltering, suffocating East Coast heat -- while he reflected on his very terrible first half of the 2012 season.Instead, hell look out the windows of his swanky sky rise apartment and see bright sun, glistening off the water, feel mild temperatures in the high-70s, and curse his luck.The weather. Just one more freakin thing he cant control. For the first time since his rookie season, Lincecum is spending the All-Star game apart from the midsummer classic festivities. Instead hes spending it as the worst starting pitcher in the majors, with a 6.42 earned-run-average.Its a crazy, unfathomable plummet -- one that no one can explain, including Lincecum. Though, God knows, he keeps trying. The kid opens a vein after every start, reaches down inside himself and pulls out first his heart and then his soul and, after some rummaging around, his ego for all of us to look at and examine and dissect.He did it again on Sunday, calling himself the weak link -- something you are unlikely to ever hear another professional athlete say about him or herself. He cant seem to help himself -- theres no tough front with Lincecum.Hes searching for answers. What he probably doesnt need to do is overanalyze everything with all his buddies or family members back in Seattle. What he probably doesnt need to do is try to escape his issues.He told reporters on Saturday that he wasnt looking to do that.No, Im going to pick up a ball and keep my mind surrounded with baseball, he said. I have to think about what Ive gone through in order to remedy this.The Giants are right not to try to skip his next start. Hes going to have a couple of days away from the game, a break in routine. And the next opponent is the Astros, the worst team in the major leagues. Last time they were in town, Matt Cain pitched a perfect game against them. And while theres no diminishing such a towering feat, history will still note that it came against the Houston Astros. The Giants may run out of patience soon with Lincecum, but not yet, not in this next scheduled start.The Astros might be a way for Lincecum to find what he needs the most -- his swagger. For all the talk about mechanics, its clear that his biggest issue is mental. You can visibly watch his bad body language take over on the mound. He seemed to get his mojo back momentarily in the last home stand after a long talk with Ryan Vogelsong between innings against the As. He came back to the mound more determined, then carried that look over into his next start against the Dodgers.
RELATED: Without pitching against A's, Vogelsong saves Giants
But whatever gains he made melted away last week in the Eastern heat wave (and, yes, using the heat is making excuses, but the reality is Lincecum has never pitched well in high heat and humidity).Lincecum is looking for an explanation, which is why he keeps using his postgame sessions as therapy. Its been terrible, he said. Its a terrible feeling.Now, back in Seattle, he needs, take a deep breath, look around the nice apartment his baseball talent bought, and watch the sun glint off the water. Its not the gloomy clouds that match his mood, but maybe he can glimpse some reason for optimism on the horizon.And he needs to keep the ball in his hand and his mind, like he promised.

Giants lineup: Pence leading off, lefties back in against D'backs

Giants lineup: Pence leading off, lefties back in against D'backs

After batting fourth on Sunday in Los Angeles, Hunter Pence is back in the leadoff spot in the series opener against Arizona.

Additionally, Denard Span, Joe Panik and Jarrett Parker return after sitting against Clayton Kershaw.

San Francisco Giants:
1. Hunter Pence (R) RF
2. Joe Panik (L) 2B
3. Denard Span (L) CF
4. Buster Posey (R) 1B
5. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
6. Pablo Sandoval (S) 3B
7. Jarrett Parker (L) LF
8. Nick Hundley (R) C
9. Johnny Cueto (R) P

Arizona Diamondbacks:
1. Gregor Blanco (L) LF
2. Kristopher Negron (R) SS
3. Brandon Drury (R) 2B
4. Christian Walker (R) 1B
5. Rey Fuentes (L) CF
6. Adam Rosales (R) 3B
7. Jeremy Hazelbaker (L) RF
8. John Ryan Murphy (R) C
9. Zack Godley (R) P

Three teams chasing Giants in tight race for first overall pick

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USATI

Three teams chasing Giants in tight race for first overall pick

LOS ANGELES — The Giants have a pretty strong track record when picking in the top five of the MLB Draft. In 1985, they took Will Clark with the second overall selection, and Clark remains the highest-drafted player in franchise history. A year later, Matt Williams was taken third overall. Jason Grilli at No. 4 in 1997 is rather forgettable, but taking Buster Posey with the fifth pick in 2008 led to three titles. 

With a week of baseball remaining, the Giants are a lock to pick in the top four of next year’s draft. A few days ago, they looked like a pretty strong bet to pick first overall, but the standings — the bottom of them, at least — have tightened in recent days. Here’s a look at the contenders, so to speak … 

White Sox (63-92): No team went into tank mode this year quite like Chicago, with trades of just about every big piece on the roster. But a funny thing has happened … they’ve actually played decent baseball down the stretch. The White Sox are 11-12 in September after a blowout of the Royals on Sunday. They finish up with four against the Angels and three against the Indians, so they should get pretty close to 100 losses. 

Phillies (62-94): They have looked all along like the team to beat, but they hurt their top-pick chances by taking three of four from the Dodgers last week. They host the Nationals and Mets this week. 

Tigers (62-94): All of a sudden, they’re the biggest road block for the Giants. The Tigers have lost seven straight and they’re 4-20 in September. They finish up with three against the Royals and three against the Twins, and all six games are on the road. 

Giants (61-95): Can we stop for a moment and appreciate this. We’ve been talking about it for five months, but still, it’s pretty amazing that a $200 million team is headed into the final week with a very good shot at having the worst record in Major League Baseball. What an awful season this has been. Having said that, the Giants have not shown any signs of actually tanking, and manager Bruce Bochy said this weekend that he won’t shut any players down. So, it’s on to Phoenix, where the Giants have lost six of seven this season but the Diamondbacks might chill out a bit after clinching a postseason spot. They’ll face Zack Godley, Robbie Ray and Zack Greinke. The season ends with three at home against the Padres. The Giants have struggled against the Padres for the last year and a half, but they’ll have Matt Cain going in an emotional start and Madison Bumgarner will also get a game.