When Tim Lincecum started the game by walking Mark Ellis and giving up a single to Kurt Suzuki, I figured the A’s were on their way to their eighth straight victory over the Giants (even leading to me to joke that if bets were allowed after the start of a game, you could probably make about $350 if you put $100 on the Giants after those first two runners reached).
Luckily for San Francisco Lincecum settled down and kept Oakland from scoring in the first inning, and the next six innings after that. After a scoreless inning each from Tyler Walker and Brian Wilson, the Giants had a 1-0 win.
Obviously Lincecum and the rest of the staff took my advice from yesterday. Let’s face it, the Giants’ hitters have too much to deal with these days to worry about scoring more than one run in a game against the A’s — they came to town tired after that rain-delayed game in Cleveland, the fires in California have moved air quality in the Bay Area from “moderate” to “Amy Winehouse’s hotel room,” they’re worried about skyrocketing oil and corn prices, etc.
Fred Lewis had a hit and a walk on his way to scoring the lone run of the game on a Randy Winn grounder that Daric Barton misplayed. Ray Durham had a hit. That was it. In fact, the Giants only left one guy on base all game because Aaron Rowand hit into a double play after the Giants scored.
(Side note: San Francisco’s campaign to send Aaron Rowand to the All Star Game has to be losing steam. He’s an extremely likable player, but he’s an outfielder who’s on pace for 16 homers, 86 RBIs and 2 stolen bases. He’s not an All Star.)
Last night was another reminder that without Lincecum this Giants season would be unwatchable. Not only is he the best pitcher the Giants have ever had in my lifetime, he’s the team’s most exciting player even after being removed from the game. He’s probably going to tone down his act as he gets older and richer (side note: Brian Sabean’s most important duty before getting fired will be to convince Lincecum to get a restraining order against Scott Boras. If Boras ever gets his greedy little hands on Lincecum, he might end up getting twice what Barry Zito did.), but the Giants need somebody to jump up in the dugout after a Walker strikeout in the eighth and scream “Yeah!!! F$%# yeah!!!”
Along with the yelling, it’s worth keeping your eyes on the screen just to see Lincecum in the dugout fidgeting, looking around, biting his nails and making the process of eating sunflower seeds look more exhausting than a spinning class taught by a testosterone-fueled Floyd Landis.
It’s almost enough to make one forget that the Giants have buried Emmanuel Burriss on the bench in favor of Omar Vizquel and his .161 batting average.
However, if Lincecum weren’t a Cy Young favorite he wouldn’t be on the cover of Sports Illustrated next week — regardless of his dugout activities. But he is. He’s also the National League leader in strikeouts, and somehow has amassed a 9-1 record on a team that’s 35-46.
And most of all, Lincecum did what the Giants hitters needed all their pitchers to do against Oakland: keep them off the board.
Jonathan Sanchez is getting ready to pitch in about an hour. No pressure, Sanchy!
TWIB BASG Notes
-Justin Duchscherer actually pitched just as well as Lincecum, even if he didn’t strike out 11 like Timmy did (he struck out four). You have to give it to Duke, he’s unbelievably hard to hit…even if he doesn’t pronounce his last name correctly.
-I probably watched more televised baseball yesterday than I have all year, starting with a wild Cubs/White Sox game where the fans seemed split 50/50 between the two teams. It was like watching the Red Sox play in Oakland. I’m guessing there may have been a fight or two at Comiskey Park, and I’m not even counting Ozzie Guillen battling the voices inside his own head.
-Then we got bonus coverage of the Angels/Dodgers game on ESPN, one of the strangest games of the year for a couple reasons. First, Mike Scioscia removed Jared Weaver from the game after six innings of no-hit ball (to be fair to Scioscia, Weaver had already thrown 97 pitches). Then the Dodgers end up winning even though they didn’t record a hit the rest of the game (Jose Arredondo came in and pitched two more no-hit innings in relief of Weaver).
-The power packed NL West: last night the Giants and Dodgers combined for two runs, two hits and two wins.
-I’m thinking NBC 11 needs to work out the kinks on their Giants broadcasts. Technical difficulties at six o’clock caused viewers to miss the first ten minutes of last night’s game, but it did give us a “special” news broadcast that brought us important nuggets like “smoky air can have an effect on your pet’s energy level” and “it’s gay pride weekend, here’s some stock parade footage.”
-I’m watching the Mets and Yankees right now, featuring the announcing “skills” of Ron Darling (former Met) as the color commentator. And yesterday’s Cubs/White Sox game had Mark Grace (former Cub) in the booth. Who decided the viewing experience for nationally televised games would be more enjoyable if one of the announcers is trying to pretend they aren’t rooting for one of the teams? I don’t know whether to blame Fox for constantly assigning Troy Aikman to Cowboys games or ESPN for making Bill Walton announce Lakers games when his son Luke is playing (leading to the always comical portion of the game when Luke would be on the floor and Bill would only refer to him as “Walton”).