Usually it’s a long, slow walk. Trudging is a better way to describe it. When the Grim Bochy grabs the dugout handrail and lifts his old catcher’s body up the stairs, it’s usually curtains for the pitcher on the mound. Even starters get no leeway. Before one of his starting pitchers can protest, Bochy’s already got one hand on the other elbow, pointing to the umpire, the bullpen, and avoiding eye contact with the guy on the mound until it’s time to take the ball away.
Tonight, on the night of Tim Lincecum’s last regular season start, Bochy didn’t walk. He ran. Well, he trotted. Lincecum just walked Kelly Johnson on 4 pitches, but Bochy wasn’t going to punk his possible one-game-playoff starter during his last chance to lock down a win.
Doesn’t sound like a big deal, but Bochy only worries about the ego of his starting pitcher on special occasions. (And when I texted my buddy Carp saying the same thing, he posited that the “special occasion” I was talking about must have been “Bochy running in public.” Well, that too.) Tonight was one of those special occasions in both senses, and both made perfect sense. It’s true that a manager’s moves are only as smart as they are successful in hindsight, but even if Lincecum had given up a homer in that situation it would’ve been hard to criticize Bochy there. As it happened, the fans cheered Bochy for leaving Lincecum in tonight. As Kruk and Kuip stated at the time, maybe Bochy gave Lincecum an extra chance simply to finally get some applause for the first time this season.
Time for Rally Rags
— For a group of marketing professionals as talented as the ones employed by the San Francisco Giants, it’s rather surprising that they haven’t decided to give out rally rags before Friday. In 2000, they gave them out during a few games in September, and the look of a full house waving those things around looks awesome. No other way to describe it.
— Brian Wilson made the right choice in dying his beard. At that length, a creepy flesh-colored beard is never the right choice.
— Nice to see Javier Lopez has officially taken Jeremy Affeldt’s job regardless of how long the season ends up lasting.
— Pat Burrell hit yet another important homer to win a game for the Giants, who seem unable to win games in any other fashion. Nobody should be that surprised that the Giants rely on round-trippers as much as they do; they’ve been sacrificing speed for guys who can be labeled as “professional hitters” for a while now. No speed, and you won’t have too many rallies that don’t include a time when all the big dudes on base can trot instead of sprint.
— The Giants only had 7 baserunners tonight. Against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Anyone who decides to wager on a Giants game is truly sick and needs to call that 1-800-GAMBLER number ASAP.
— Timothy LeRoy Lincecum is quite the showman, isn’t he? 11 strikeouts over 7 innings, the type of game we all expected for about, say, 30 of his 33 starts. But for an off year, Lincecum was far from incompetent: 16-10, 212 1/3 IP, 3.43 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 231 K. I’d say that was worth $8 million, at least in the surreal world of professional baseball.