Lincecum: 'It's been a really special time here for me'
Tim Lincecum (left) and Buster Posey meet on the mound during the fourth inning of Thursday night's 3-2 win over the Dodgers. (AP)
Angel Pagan's solo home run in the eighth inning gave the Giants a 3-2 lead over the Dodgers. (AP)
SAN FRANCISCO – Giants manager Bruce Bochy didn’t want to treat Tim Lincecum’s season finale as a farewell start Thursday night.
Why place a period when you’re not done talking?
The Giants plan to do plenty of that with Lincecum, and his agent, in a bid to re-sign the two-time Cy Young Award winner. And they’ll make that qualifying offer, which is tied to draft pick compensation -- and figures to tug down his value on the open market, too.
But free agency is an ocean voyage. There’s no guarantee you’ll return to the same shores, even when you love nothing better than the sight of McCovey Cove. So yes, you had to think of Lincecum’s start Friday night as potentially his last in a Giants uniform. You had to reminisce, to savor, to applaud at every opportunity.
That’s what a sellout crowd did, giving Lincecum one ovation after another but, like Barry Zito a night earlier, never the opportunity for a grand one in a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Angel Pagan hit a tiebreaking home run that skipped off the top of the wall in left field in the eighth inning. It came just too late to make a winner of Lincecum, who departed for a pinch hitter in the seventh. But the Giants did take 11 of 19 from the Dodgers to win the season series. That’s some hope, anyway, that they won’t be outclassed by their free-spending archrivals next year.
Starting pitching report
Lincecum had a rough first inning, needed a runner thrown out at the plate to prevent another in the second inning and he did not emerge a winner.
But he more than kept the Giants in the game while holding the Dodgers to two runs in seven innings. And he thoroughly delighted the crowd by thoroughly baffling Yasiel Puig, who had no clue against a sequence of offspeed stuff while striking out three times.
Only twice this season has a major league pitcher struck out Puig three times: Madison Bumgarner on July 6 and Lincecum on Friday.
The Dodgers scored a run in the first inning when Carl Crawford tripled and scored on Adrian Gonzalez’s sacrifice fly. They added another in the fourth when Juan Uribe, flashing his signature jazz hands, hit a ground-rule double and Mark Ellis followed with another double.
But Lincecum escaped every other situation while mixing his changeup, curve and slider. He struck out six and has 1,510 of those in seven seasons as a Giant – behind only Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry in the club’s San Francisco era.
He finished with 193 strikeouts this season, three more than last year, and his 4.37 ERA, while not glossy, was a hefty improvement on the 5.18 ERA he posted a year ago.
He ended his night by getting Hanley Ramirez to ground out in a tie game, ending the seventh. The crowd, aware they didn’t get a fitting chance to say goodbye to Zito a night earlier, stood and applauded for Lincecum as he walked off the mound – but the ovation didn’t have a sure curtain as a backdrop, so it was more muted than if Bochy had taken the baseball from him.
Lincecum was done for the night, though. He put on a jacket and exchanged hugs with teammates in the tunnel behind the dugout.
Santiago Casilla, an important part of this bullpen going forward, retired all three batters he faced while going through the heart of the Dodgers’ order to get credit for the victory. Then Sergio Romo worked a 1-2-3 ninth to record his 38th save in 43 opportunities.
He led a happy handshake line that might have included Lincecum for the last time as a Giant.
At the plate
It took the Giants awhile, but they finally broke through against reclamation project Edinson Volquez, who was signed to soak up innings as the Giants ready their rotation for the postseason.
Nick Noonan singled, moved up on a wild pitch, took third on Lincecum’s sacrifice and scored on Pagan’s ground out. The Giants tied it when Gregor Blanco drew a two-out walk and scored on Brandon Belt’s double.
Belt was thrown out between second and third to end the inning.
Pagan’s homer was his fifth of the season and his first at AT&T Park since his inside-the-park, walk-off shot on May 25. It came off left-hander Paco Rodriguez, who was holding opponents to a .158 average.
The Giants went nearly half a season without an assist from left field. But they’ve made some memorable throws in recent weeks. Blanco came through in the second inning after Puig hit a two-out single and Tim Federowicz tried to score from second base. Blanco’s throw was on the money and catcher Buster Posey’s swipe tag got Federowicz on the ear to end the inning.
The Giants announced 41,221 paid. The “Beat LA” chant never goes out of fashion.
The Giants begin their final series of the season on Friday as the San Diego Padres arrive for three games at AT&T Park. Ryan Vogelsong (3-6, 5.90 ERA) takes the mound against Padres right-hander Burch Smith (1-2, 5.87). First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. PDT. It’ll be Yusmeiro Petit (4-0, 2.84) against left-hander Eric Stults (10-13, 3.94) on Saturday and Matt Cain (8-10, 4.00) against right-hander Tyson Ross (3-8, 3.10) in Sunday’s season finale.