Lincecum overcomes first-day jitters


Lincecum overcomes first-day jitters

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Tim Lincecum is known for his huge stride off the mound. He nearly set a long-jump record as he took the field Saturday afternoon.My adrenaline was kind of going, said Lincecum, who threw two innings in the Giants Cactus League opener. The first inning, I felt a little more erratic. I almost jumped from the grass cut to the mound.Thats what facing the Arizona Diamondbacks will do. Lincecum allowed a run on three hits in the first inning, but controlled his emotions and his fastball better in the second inning. He threw 21 of his 33 pitches for strikes, generated more than a half-dozen whiffs on his changeup and said his lower back was a non-issue.
He made his statement to the first batter, striking out Ryan Roberts on three pitches.Yeah definitely, I kind of surprised myself there that first batter, Lincecum said. Obviously, the first game, against an NL West rival, my adrenaline was kind of going. I was able to collect my nerves that second inning, calm down and be able to throw a little more collectively.Lincecums fastball was just 89-90 mph, but he said he wasnt concerned.For me I felt the ball was coming out fine, he said. Swings on the changeups were an inclination there must be some offset (from the fastball). So thats good.Lincecum threw only fastball-change. He said hed work on flat ground to find the same release point with his slider and curveball before he starts to incorporate them in his next outing.My whole idea behind fastball-changeup is these are pitches you have to get out in front and you have to get extension, Lincecum said. For me, curveball-slider are pitches you have to pull more into your body. Youve got to make them break. So Im trying to work backwards and make it easier on myself.Its always easier to execute when youre calm. But Lincecum hasnt forgotten how he lost control in his final regular-season start at Arizona last September a loss that left his record at 13-14. He also hasnt forgotten that hell get the NL West-champion Diamondbacks again on Opening Day, April 6 at Chase Field.Lincecum was scheduled for one inning Saturday but said he was told hed operate with a 40-pitch limit. So he welcomed the chance to sit down and throw another inning.You see them too many times before the season starts and the scouting report can be too vast, said Lincecum, who struck out two and didnt walk a batter. Its nice to give them a little bit of a taste and not a whole bunch. Two innings were good. Im glad to get that out of the way.He also got the Justin Upton confrontation out of the way. Lincecum was distressed last September when he threw a pitch that struck Upton on the helmet, knocking out Arizonas best hitter for a few days. Upton managed a single in the first inning.You can ask him, but I was wondering if there were any thoughts going through in his head about if one is let go accidentally, Lincecum said. When I was out there I wasnt making a conscious effort not to throw at his head. It was just, Try not to worry about what happened. Try to go out there and have fun and not think about that incident and just worry about now.Lincecums new outfield had a busy day. Center fielder Angel Pagan overran Uptons single, making an error on his first chance as a Giant. But left fielder Melky Cabrera showed off a strong arm, throwing out Upton trying to score from second base on Miguel Monteros single.Oh God, Lincecum said. I didnt think hed crow hop and throw him out. Im running to back up home plate and the ball already was there. I thought, 'Hey, thats one less out Ive got to get.'That thought didnt go through Lincecums mind when catcher Chris Stewart caught a foul pop to end the inning. Lincecum, thinking there were two outs, called for the ball.I got caught up, Lincecum said. You can obviously tell where my head is.Better than in a regular-season game, right?Or the first game of the World Series, replied Lincecum, in reference to his infamously self-described brain fart in 2010, when he ran Texas Michael Young back to third base without realizing it wasnt a force play.He can laugh about that now.Hindsight makes it a little easier, Lincecum said.

Cubs rock Kershaw, reach first World Series since 1945


Cubs rock Kershaw, reach first World Series since 1945


CHICAGO -- Cursed by a Billy Goat, bedeviled by Bartman and crushed by decades of disappointment, the Chicago Cubs are at long last headed back to the World Series.

Kyle Hendricks outpitched Clayton Kershaw, Anthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras homered early and the Cubs won their first pennant since 1945, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 Saturday night in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.

The drought ended when closer Aroldis Chapman got Yasiel Puig to ground into a double play, setting off a wild celebration inside Wrigley Field, outside the ballpark and all over the city.

Seeking their first crown since 1908, manager Joe Maddon's team opens the World Series at Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Indians haven't won it all since 1948 - Cleveland and Cubs have the two longest title waits in the majors.

"This city deserves it so much," Rizzo said. "We got four more big ones to go, but we're going to enjoy this. We're going to the World Series. I can't even believe that."

All-everything Javier Baez and pitcher Jon Lester shared the NLCS MVP. Baez hit .318, drove in five runs and made several sharp plays at second base. Lester, a former World Series champion in Boston, was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers.

Deemed World Series favorites since opening day, the Cubs topped the majors with 103 wins to win the NL Central, then beat the Giants and Dodgers in the playoffs.

The Cubs overcame a 2-1 deficit against the Dodgers and won their 17th pennant. They had not earned a World Series trip since winning a doubleheader opener 4-3 at Pittsburgh on Sept. 29, 1945, to clinch the pennant on the next-to-last day of the season.

The eternal "wait till next year" is over. No more dwelling on a history of failure - the future is now.

"We're too young. We don't care about it," star slugger Kris Bryant said. "We don't look into it. This is a new team, this is a completely different time of our lives. We're enjoying it and our work's just getting started."

Hendricks pitched two-hit ball for 7 1/3 innings. Chapman took over and closed with hitless relief, then threw both arms in the air as he was mobbed by teammates and coaches.

The crowd joined in, chanting and serenading their team.

"Chicago!" shouted popular backup catcher David Ross.

The Cubs shook off back-to-back shutout losses earlier in this series by pounding the Dodgers for 23 runs to win the final three games.

And they were in no way overwhelmed by the moment on Saturday, putting aside previous frustration.

In 1945, the Billy Goat Curse supposedly began when a tavern owner wasn't allowed to bring his goat to Wrigley. In 2003, the Cubs lost the final three games of the NLCS to Florida, punctuated with a Game 6 defeat when fan Steve Bartman deflected a foul ball.

Even as recently as 2012, the Cubs lost 101 times.

This time, no such ill luck.

Bryant had an RBI single and scored in a two-run first. Dexter Fowler added two hits, drove in a run and scored one.

Contreras led off the fourth with a homer. Rizzo continued his resurgence with a solo drive in the fifth.

That was plenty for Hendricks, the major league ERA leader.

Hendricks left to a standing ovation after Josh Reddick singled with one out in the eighth. The only other hit Hendricks allowed was a single by Andrew Toles on the game's first pitch.

Kershaw, dominant in Game 2 shutout, gave up five runs and seven hits before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth. He fell to 4-7 in the postseason.

The Dodgers haven't been to the World Series since winning in 1988.

Pitching on five days' rest, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner threw 30 pitches in the first. Fowler led off with a double, and Bryant's single had the crowd shaking the 102-year-old ballpark.

They had more to cheer when left fielder Andrew Toles dropped Rizzo's fly, putting runners on second and third, and Ben Zobrist made it 2-0 a sacrifice fly.

The Cubs added a run in the second when Addison Russell doubled to deep left and scored on a two-out single by Fowler.


Maddon benched slumping right fielder Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.

"Kershaw's pitching, so I wanted to get one more right-handed bat in the lineup, and also with Albert I don't feel like we're losing anything on defense," Maddon said. "I know Jason's a Gold Glover, but I think Albert, given an opportunity to play often enough would be considered a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder, too."

Heyward was 2 for 28 in the playoffs - 1 for 16 in the NLCS.


Kerry Wood, wearing a Ron Santo jersey, threw out the first pitch and actor Jim Belushi delivered the "Play Ball!" call before the game. Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder and actor John Cusack were also in attendance. And Bulls great Scottie Pippen led the seventh-inning stretch.

If Cubs get to World Series, injured slugger could make surprise return


If Cubs get to World Series, injured slugger could make surprise return

As if the possibility of clinching their first National League pennant in 71 years didn’t create enough drama and excitement in Wrigleyville, the Cubs have sent Kyle Schwarber to the Arizona Fall League, hoping he can add another chapter to his October legend.
Schwarber earned this chance after beating every expectation in his recovery from major surgery on his left knee in April. The Cubs haven’t ruled anything in or out – and still need to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers one more time this weekend – but they want to see how he responds on Saturday with the Mesa Solar Sox and ultimately decide if he would be a viable designated-hitter option for the World Series.
Schwarber gained clearance on Monday from Dr. Daniel Cooper, the head team physician for the Dallas Cowboys who reconstructed his ACL and repaired his LCL after a devastating outfield collision during the first week of the regular season. Schwarber immediately phoned president of baseball operations Theo Epstein after the six-month checkup.   
“I wasn’t expecting the call,” Epstein said. “We got news that was beyond better than we could have expected by any reasonable standard. 
“He asked for a chance to do this. And with as hard as Kyle has worked and as much as this means to him – and potentially to us – we wanted to give him that opportunity.”