Days like today are what make baseball so cool. The ability to sit inside during a gray San Francisco day and catch the Giants playing at 11:30 am PDT in Chicago is like a burst of sunshine through the mist and fog.
Watching early weekday games on TV isn’t quite as good as actually attending them, but it certainly is cheaper. It’s almost as fun too, especially when Tim Lincecum’s on the mound and the game’s at Wrigley Field. The Giants may not be an explosive team, but they’re good enough to beat the Cubs’ fifth starter with their ace.
We all know Lincecum’s incredible, but today showed his greatness in yet another light. I don’t know how many first-pitch balls he threw, but it sure seemed like a majority of the Cubs’ hitters started out with a 1-0 count against Lincecum today. And yet it didn’t matter, as Lincecum only gave up 4 hits and 2 walks. His changeup is becoming the best from a right-hander in baseball, if it isn’t already. He exerts his will over hitters, to the point where if he’s focused and/or angry there isn’t a hitter he can’t strike out.
Let’s run down all the other positives that came out of the Giants’ second and last game at Wrigley this season, a 6-2 victory:
He’s fast: Emmanuel Burriss had two hits and a walk, along with his 8th stolen base this year. If Burriss can stay with the team all year he should be the first Giant since Barry Bonds in 1996 to end up with 40 steals. Burriss’ speed is such a weapon, if he can become a respectable Major League hitter he’d be a fun leadoff hitter to watch for the next decade.
He’s alive, Part 1: Aaron Rowand broke an 0-for-20 slump with a 2-run double to break the game open. Can he possibly hit a homer at Coors?
He’s alive, Part 2: Randy Winn reached base 3 times, he had a nice diving catch in the seventh inning and he showed some nifty moves dancing off of first base which appeared to totally annoy Cubs starter Sean Marshall.
He’s old, but I’d rather have him at the plate than Travis Ishikawa: Rich Aurilia had 2 hits today and was robbed on another one when Marshall leaped in the air and stopped what would have been a single up the middle.
He’s got power: Bengie Molina hit home run No. 5 today to give Lincecum a 3-0 lead in the first inning, and 23 RBI’s in 25 games is impressive. “Big Money” Molina’s bat has been so instrumental in nearly every Giants win this year, it’s going to be hard to keep replacing him behind the plate with Steve Holm or Pablo Sandoval every time Barry Zito starts.
He’s healthy…for now: Merkin Valdez wasn’t exactly nails in the eighth inning, but he kept the Cubs off the board and struck out two, whiffing Derek Lee on a fastball that hit 99 mph on the gun.
He’s over .500: To say Bruce Bochy’s on shaky ground this year is an understatement; his contract runs out after this year and he hasn’t exactly captured the imagination of the local fanbase. However, his team is 13-12, the bullpen seems more settled than it has been in five years, and he’s stuck with the younger players much longer than some would have predicted (myself included). While many wish Bochy would give Nate Schierholtz more playing time, it’s hard to really pick apart any glaring mistakes he’s made. The more you look at this team, the harder it is to believe they wouldn’t be a pennant contender with just one more solid bat. Preferably one with as much power as Big Money.