Lincecum Leads Giants to a Place in History

Lincecum Leads Giants to a Place in History

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Shaggy hair. Funky delivery. World Series star.

Tim Lincecum took the ball for his biggest outing yet and showed he's still every bit the ace who won the last two NL Cy Young Awards. Lincecum call him the Freak or Franchise pitched the Giants to their first World Series championship since moving West to San Francisco in 1958 in a 3-1 victory over the Texas Rangers on Monday night.

Make it two World Series wins for the slightly built right-hander: the opener and the clincher. While he was just good enough to beat Cliff Lee in Game 1, Lincecum had everything working in this one.

The face of these Giants since the departure of home run king Barry Bonds in 2007, Lincecum now has a World Series ring symbolizing the greatest team accomplishment to go alongside all the individual accolades.

This tops it all. With a title in hand, he will have to be considered among the best pitchers of his era. If he wasn't already.

Few will remember that career-worst, five-start losing streak in August because only four months after his 26th birthday he ruled the Rangers in the Giants' first chance to close this out. No sending this series back to AT&T Park with title-starved Giants fans fearing another collapse.

It's fitting San Francisco won the World Series playing the kind of game it had all year: a close one dependent on the pitcher being almost perfect.

Lincecum struck out 10 and walked two in eight dominant innings, a spectacular 101-pitch performance that gives him his own place in history. He needed all of 19 pitches to get through two innings, tossing six pitches in a 1-2-3 second.

Lincecum did what generations of Giants greats and Hall of Famers couldn't. And in a hostile environment to boot.

Bonds and the 2002 team were within six outs of winning it all against the wild-card Angels. Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda are still haunted by their near-miss in 1962. The 1989 Giants were swept by the cross-bay rival Oakland Athletics in an earthquake-interrupted World Series.

Who would have thought it would be Lincecum and crew to finally do it?

The pitcher with the awkward-looking throwing motion taught by his father when Lincecum was a young boy outside Seattle, is a shining example it's not all about how imposing one looks on the mound.

At 5-foot-11 and a generously listed 170 pounds, Lincecum used to be mistaken for a bat boy when entering the ballpark after he was first called up in May 2007 less than a year removed from the University of Washington.

In the dugout between innings, he hides his head under a towel. On nights he's not pitching, his face can barely be seen inside an oversized hooded sweatshirt.

It's those quirks and others such as not icing his arm and eating ice cream cones before starts that make the Lincecum who he is.

Maybe his latest thrill will help him come out of that shell. Though, why change what certainly works just fine? He is the Freak, after all.

Krukow: Belt needs to make mechanical improvements, 'it's a concern'

Krukow: Belt needs to make mechanical improvements, 'it's a concern'

Brandon Belt is hitting .238 with four home runs and nine RBI.

He has struck out 23 times in 80 at-bats.

"I just don't think he's hitting the fastball," Mike Krukow explained on KNBR 680 on Friday morning. "I think they're coming at him with a lot of fastballs at the belt, and until he turns some of those fastballs around, he's gonna get a continued steady diet of the same pitch.

"Go back and take a look at his home runs -- they're curveballs down and in ... this is something that's been a weakness of his for awhile. And teams are on it. They're telling him what's coming, and he's unable to hit it."

Belt has drawn 16 walks this season and his on-base percentage is .365.

"That's outstanding ... but he has to start beating that fastball," Krukow added. "And his best defense in most instances is just to take the fastball. But he can't do that. You see a belt-high fastball, a little bit above, you're thinking 'I gotta hit this.' And he's not hitting it.

"And until he starts making some adjustments, and you say, 'Well, how do you do that?' Well, you gotta flatten out your swing someway, to be able to take that loop that you have when you're swinging at that high fastball, out. And I think that's the way that you try and beat it."

"They're continuing to pound him with fastballs, and he's not doing anything with them. So it's a concern and he's got some work to do to try and solve that. He's gonna have to make some mechanical improvements."


Defense remains in demand, but Raiders won't reach 'just to satisfy a need'


Defense remains in demand, but Raiders won't reach 'just to satisfy a need'

ALAMEDA -- The Raiders needed cornerback help and got some by drafting Gareon Conley 24th overall. General manager Reggie McKenzie insists he didn’t select solely to fill a need.

“This was totally the draft board,” he said Thursday night. “I mean, it was hands down the best player left on our board.”

Head coach Jack Del Rio chipped away at that stance a bit, clearly happy to get a good player in an area where he can help right away.

“A lot of us guys say that this time of year though, don’t we?” Del Rio said with a laugh. “Definitely was a happy moment for us.”

Conley was a top 15 talent, with stock driving south by a sexual assault allegation made public this week that is being investigated by Cleveland. He has not been charged or arrested in regard to the April 9 incident.

The Raiders are confident he’ll be cleared, leaving them with an excellent value that could provide long-term production in the secondary.

Cornerback wasn’t the only Raiders need. They’re in desperate need of an inside linebacker – they passed on Alabama’s Reuben Foster – and could used depth at defensive tackle and safety.

McKenzie says he’ll continue to follow his draft board over reaching for a specific position. The Raiders were happy to acquire Conley, and hope more value comes their way.

“Well, hopefully there’s Day 2 that will fall the same way,” McKenzie said. “We’re going to still follow our board. We know our needs, but, we will not let, we feel, a great player slip by just to satisfy a need. We will follow our board, that’s for sure. There are a lot of good players, so we’re expecting a good day tomorrow.”

Matching need and value is the ultimate goal. If that occurs, expect a defensive slant to the rest of this draft. They need early impact players and depth at every level of their defense. They might consider an offensive tackle, with uncertainty at right tackle and Donald Penn unsure if he’ll play beyond the 2017 season. It seems unlikely the Raiders go for a running back unless it’s late, after acquiring Marshawn Lynch this week.

There’s plenty of talent heading into the second round. Vanderbilt’s Zach Cunningham is the best inside linebacker on the board, with Florida’s Alex Anzalone and LSU’s Kendall Beckwith behind him. Malik McDowell and Caleb Wormley and are intriguing defensive line options. Cam Robinson is considered the best offensive tackle left on the board, though he's likely gone before the Raiders pick.