Giants

Killion: Weekend wrap -- Giant wake-up call

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Killion: Weekend wrap -- Giant wake-up call

Aug. 1, 2011

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Ann Killion
CSNBayArea.com

There are rumblings of panic in the Giants kingdom. A sweep in Cincinnati. A big-name acquisition that hasnt started hitting yet. A trade deadline come and gone without help at catcher.In some quarters, the benefit of the doubt that Brian Sabean earned by winning the World Series has already expired.

But its not quite time to panic. The Giants have been swept before. The last time they were swept on the road -- in June against Oakland -- they were only a few miles from home, werent operating in suffocating heat and humidity and didnt have Barry Zito start.In other words, they had fewer excuses than they did over the past weekend when they lost all three to Cincinnati.RECAP: Reds clobber Zito, sweep Giants with 9-0 win
And after their last sweep they went 7-1.Still, getting swept isnt a great way to start August. Not a good launch into a critical series against Arizona, which is breathing down the Giants neck just 3.5 games back. Not an encouraging way to begin a home stand against three playoff contenders.RELATED: MLB standings
But the Cincinnati sweep could have some benefits. Like:-- Forcing Zito out of the rotation for good. All the rest of the Giants games are going to be critical. Theres no way -- barring injury or illness to another starter --that the Giants can hand the ball to Zito.-- Reminding everyone that nothing has been won yet. When the Giants traded for Carlos Beltran last week, the stories all spun ahead to how Beltran could help the Giants in the playoffs. Uh, not there yet folks.-- Refocus the AT&T Park crowd. Not that the fans havent been on their game all season. But the Giants play 22 of their next 35 games at home. Time to make that home field advantage count.-- Spur Brian Sabean to try to make more waiver-wire deals like he did last season.There are two more months left for panic. Remember people, you have to pace yourselves.The As offense continues to roll. When I asked Conor Jackson if it was frustrating that it was too little, too late, he said no.RECAP: A's take series from Twins with 7-3 victory
Theres two months of baseball left, he said. Thats a lot of baseball.Jackson cited the Colorado Rockies, who were seven games back and in fourth place on Sept 10 in 2007. Yet the Rockies made the playoffs and knocked Jacksons Arizona Diamondbacks team out of the NLCS before losing in the World Series.I think this is what they envisioned when they put the team together, Jackson said. Of course, they didnt want it to happen after the All-Star game.Billy Beane didnt hear any deals that enticed him. So, aside from trading reliever Brad Ziegler to Arizona, he kept the As together to see if they can make a Rockies-like run. The As are currently 11.5 back but playing the best ball of the season.I think we just have confidence, Jackson said. Were feeding off each other. ..Its all confidence. Its a mental game.The Raiders officially said goodbye to Nnamdi Asomugha, one of the shining lights of the Bay Area sports scene in recent years. Asomugha never won in the Bay Area, either with Cal or with the Raiders. But he was a great player and a stellar person off the field: professional, articulate, honest and involved in the community.GUTIERREZ: Seed for Nnamdi's exit planted long ago
The Raiders made a nice pickup by signing Trent Edwards over the weekend. The former Stanford quarterback had some solid years in Buffalo and is still relatively young.The 49ers have a free agency plan. Thats what Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh said over the weekend.They didnt say what the plan is, because it may be top secret.KILLION: Dreary outlook for Harbaugh, 49ers
We are going to be patient, Baalke said. We have been patient. We do have a plan. Were executing the plan.At least the 49ers spent a lot of time with the stencil machine over the lockout period. Theyve stenciled sayings for the players on the inside of doors and hung banners with sayings like You are getting better or you are getting worse. You never stay the same.The 49ers fans are hoping for option A of those three possibilities.The big sports news that got pushed aside in the midst of the baseball trade deadline and the opening of training camp: Juergen Klinsmann has taken over as coach of the U.S. mens national soccer team.Local angles? Klinsmanns wife Debbie is from San Jose. Also, U.S. Soccer needs a bigger fix than just a new coach, which makes the team a lot like the 49ers.

'We're not the worst' banner at stake in Giants-Phillies series

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AP

'We're not the worst' banner at stake in Giants-Phillies series

Nobody is paying much attention to this, and for good reason I grant you, but the Giants could end the suspense over which bad National League team is the worst National League team this weekend.

Plan your snacking regimen accordingly.

San Francisco beat Philadelphia last night, 5-4, to widen its stranglehold on 14th place in the National League to four full games. Further success this weekend could widen that to five or even eight games, and that would almost be enough to create an impromptu parade around the ballpark.

The Giants’ future is too amorphous to consider quite yet – we know this by the absurd suggestions that they could be the next home for Giancarlo Stanton.

And you thought the Warriors-to-chase-Paul-George stories were absurd.

But we digress.

The Giants are still figuring out what a rebuild would look like, and how that rebuild would manifest itself, but until it does, there is still the Ypres-like slog of the 2017 season to endure. And this weekend right here is about all that is left.

There is no spoiling the Dodgers’ march to regular season glory. There are no postseason awards for any individual to chase. Catching the Padres for fourth seems increasingly unlikely.

Now there could be a question about whether Bruce Bochy wants to return but none about whether the Giants would do anything to him, and if you need something to chew on, Bobby Evans’ longterm future as general manager might be sufficiently gristly, though we doubt it will result in anything.

There is only the raising of the “WE’RE NOT THE WORST” banner over the promenade in right field. And this looks like the weekend when it can be best be decided. Like we said, snack accordingly.

Down on the Farm: When Lincecum looked like batboy, became Giant in San Jose

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AP

Down on the Farm: When Lincecum looked like batboy, became Giant in San Jose

The last time Tim Lincecum pitched on a MLB mound was Aug. 5, 2016. Lincecum only lasted 3 1/3 innings in front of his hometown Seattle fans while doused in Angels red. The final image of Lincecum may be in an Angels jersey, but it's also with a Giants-orange glove on his left hand. 

If that is the last time Lincecum ever pitches again in the bigs, Aug. 5, 2016 will go down as a date many hope to forget as The Freak was a diminished version of himself. Remember the date, not so much the year. 

Exactly 10 years before that last pitch, Lincecum became Giant. Only two months after going No. 10 overall in the 2006 MLB Draft, Lincecum made his San Jose Giants debut on Aug. 5, 2006. He started the game against the Bakersfield Blaze and allowed two earned runs over 2 2/3 innings pitched while striking out five. 

Lincecum's stint in San Jose only lasted six games, including Game 1 of the playoffs. At 22 years old, Lincecum went 2-0 with a 1.95 ERA, struck out 48 batters in 27.2 innings pitched, and held opposing hitters to a .135 batting average, which somehow is a career-high for his time in the minors with Giants affiliates.

Here's how Joe Ritzo, the voice of the San Jose Giants, remembers the time San Jose fans witnessed a sight unlike anything else with Lincecum.  

Q: What was your first impression of Lincecum in San Jose? 

A: Unique talent. Everyone knew he was a first-round draft pick and there was a lot of hype and a lot of high expectations for him when he joined us. He went out there and was just dominant from the very first start. He was just a fun guy to watch because he gave you such a different look out there as a smaller pitcher with an unusual motion and then the ball coming out at 95, 96 miles an hour with this big curve ball as well that hitters in the California League just couldn't touch. And he was going up against hitters in this league -- in many cases with two, three, four years of professional experience -- and Tim was playing college baseball two months earlier.

I thought he was the best pitcher in this league when he was there those final six or so weeks of the season. A lot of fun to watch. I think our fans here really looked forward to his starts because you had a pretty good idea he probably wasn't going to be in San Jose for too long. 

Q: Did he remind you anybody else or was he completely different? 

A: Oh no, I mean he was totally his own guy. He was a very unique pitcher and the way he operated out there with the motion that not a lot of people had seen before. It was like something I don't think anyone had ever really experienced that year in San Jose. 

I remember our manager back then, Lenn Sakata, saying that when he first saw Tim when he walked in he thought he was the batboy. It was just this little guy with this baby face. It was like, 'No, that's your new ace pitcher.' Then he went out there and was just spectacular and kind of made you sit up in your chair and go, 'Whoa! This guy could be sometin' special.'

Q: Was that your real first impression? Just how he looked so small, but was amazing on the mound. 

A: Yeah, I mean he looked like a kid out there. Like I said earlier, I think he was the best pitcher in the California League those final few weeks of the season and he was our Game 1 starter in the playoffs that September, and won that start. I think we all knew that he was gonna move quickly through the system with what we saw here in San Jose. 

Q: Is he the best pitcher you've ever seen at that level? 

A: I think he's the best pitcher I've seen here in San Jose. Madison Bumgarner was pretty spectacular as well, and like Tim, was only here for a short amount of time. But Tim, the stuff was just electric. And you had a feeling watching him, he could probably go up to the big leagues the next day and get people out.

He goes to Triple-A the next year, I think he was only there for a month, and then he's in the big leagues so that kind of turned out to be pretty true. A special talent. 

Q: With the Giants, what is your favorite Tim Lincecum memory? 

A: My favorite memory was how he pitched the final game of the World Series in 2010. I grew up in the Bay Area, I grew up a Giants fan and I was a fan like anyone else that October and was all caught up in what was going on with that team and loving every minute of it. He was outstanding as everyone knows during that playoff run and it was fitting that he got a chance to be out there in what turned out to be the clinching game in Texas.

That I think was the moment for me that sticks with me after all these years with Tim Lincecum as a Giant. 

Q: Do you think we'll ever see someone else like a Tim Lincecum? 

A: I don't know. I don't know how you teach what he did. It clearly worked for him. I'm not sure if we'll ever see anything like that ever again. It was pretty incredible watching him here in San Jose because it was like a motion we've never seen. I think at that time, he wasn't really refined as the pitcher that he became at the major league level with changing speeds a lot, becoming more of a pitcher.

He was flat out overpowering in San Jose and they couldn't hit him here. I don't know if we'll ever see anything quite like that motion and the size, just the whole package he had back then.