MoreSplashHits got up Friday thinking how great it would be to be at AT&T Park for the pre-game festivities, but at least I could watch it on TV.
Then I turned on the MLB Network, which was carrying Friday’s Giants-Cardinals game. But instead of showing the pre-game, the network decided to show Brian Kinney and Harold Reynolds blabber at each other.
OK, no problem. I’ll just go to MLB. TV. But MLB.TV also did show the pre-game, joining the broadcast right before the first pitch.
So, we’d like to thank SFGiants.com show sharing video of the highlights of Friday’s pre-game activities as the Giants raised their 2012 World Series banner.
And it almost turned out like we called it.
MoreSplashHits posted 10 prime candidates to raise the flag on Friday.
Two of them did not participate, as we expected, because they were getting ready for the game: Pitcher Barry Zito, who was warming up in the bullpen, and catcher Buster Posey, who was catching Zito.
“It would have been nice, but I also like my routine,” Posey said of joining the pre-game festivities. “It’s a balance.”
Two other players we listed did not hoist the flag, but were given another honor. NLCS MVP Marco Scutaro and World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval got to throw out the ceremonial first pitches.
As for the flag itself, it was brought in via the bay on a San Francisco fire boat. After it was carried into the stadium, it was handed to Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who walked it to the outfield wall, and passed it off to pitcher Matt Cain.
Cain carried the flag into the stands and to the flag pole, followed by five teammates — each of whom took turns in hoisting the flag up the pole:
Matt Cain — got it
Tim Lincecum — got it
Ryan Vogelsong — got it
Sergio Romo — got it
Hunter Pence — got it
Angel Pagan — DOH!!
OK, we didn’t get Pagan, but 9 out of 10 isn’t bad.
Actually, when I was compiling my list of candidates, I wanted to have five pitchers and five position players. After coming up with Pence, Scutaro, Posey and Sandoval, I needed one more.
I went with Blanco because he’s defensive plays in the postseason stuck out more in my mind. But I could have gone with several candidates like Brandon Crawford (for his defense) and Pagan.
Pagan was a solid choice for his contributions from the start of the season through the playoff run. And he just signed a four-game contract with the Giants last winter.
“This is about sharing the joy, sharing the accomplishment,” Pence said Hunter Pence. “That’s what we do it for. We do it for each other. We do it together.”
Good choices all the way around, and it was a great ceremony. Still, it would have been nice to see Buster in the mix.
“Aw, I had fun watching ’em,” Posey said of his teammates.
Don’t feel too bad for Buster. He’ll get his time in the spotlight Saturday when he’ll be presented his MVP trophy in a pre-game ceremony.
If you found yourself concerned after watching Tim Lincecum pitch on Saturday, you weren’t alone.
But don’t count Lincecum or manager Bruce Bochy among the worrisome watchers.
Bochy and The Freak kept their comments and outlook positive after Saturday’s outing against the Oakland A’s. But if you watched the game, those comments sort of felt like putting lipstick on a pig.
“I had some good moments and some bad ones,” Lincecum said. “I still need to try to get my pitch count up. But I am not finishing guys off. I had a good fastball, but it all goes back to location. It’s all a matter of repeating my mechanics.”
The bottom line: Lincecum gave up five runs and six hits and three walks in three-plus innings.
Another tie for the Giants. But that’s not what fans cared about from Tuesday’s game with the Dodgers.
All they wanted to know about was one guy: Tim Lincecum.
Lincecum, in his spring debut, gave up three runs on four hits in 1 1/3 innings.
Maybe not the results that some fans were hoping for. But it’s important to note that Lincecum rarely shines in the spring. He uses that time to get his complicated mechanics in order.
In six springs with the Giants, Lincecum has had ERAs of 6.43, 4.50, 4.03, 6.94, 4.37 and 5.70.
So while the three runs allowed may not excite you, the key stat is bases on balls: 0. However, it should be noted that Lincecum went to full counts on four of the eight batters he faced.
Lincecum got Skip Schumaker to ground to second, but an error by Kensuke Tanaka allowed Schumaker to reach. Hanley Ramirez then popped to second. Adrian Gonzalez singled to right with Schumaker taking third. The inning ended with strike-him-out/throw-him-out double play with Andre Ethier at the plate and Gonzalez thrown out at second.
In the second Juan Uribe flied to center. Mark Ellis and A.J. Ellis hit back-to-back singles before Jeremy Moore doubled them both home for a 2-0 lead. That ended Lincecum’s day. Steve Edlefsen relieved and had a rougher time that Lincecum, allowing Moore to score for Lincecum’s third charged run, then allowing two more runs to scoring, giving up two hits and three walks.
“It’s a good sign when you feel the ball’s coming out of your hand better than the year before,” Lincecum told CSNBayArea.com.
Well, we’ve heard that before. Lincecum threw 22 of 38 pitches for strikes. His off-speed pitches had good movement, but most didn’t stay in the strike zone.
“There wasn’t that question if my body would be ready or if my mechanics would be working,” Lincecum said. “All that other stuff was a non-issue. The timing of my arm felt really good. I missed a few pitches high, but I meant to.
“I didn’t feel I was getting out of whack.”
Lincecum spent the winter working on core and leg strength, and he said he felt the benefits of that work on Tuesday.
“Last spring it was trying to make something out of nothing,” Lincecum said. “I didn’t have the strength or the mechanics to sustain anything. Now the question isn’t whether I’m going to throw strikes. It’s where I’m going to throw strikes.”
- Brandon Belt‘s two-run double in the fourth helped the Giants rally from 5-0 to 5-4 in the sixth.
- Reliever Ramon Ramirez, hoping to earn a job in the bullpen, was less than impressive in the sixth, giving up three runs on two hits and a walk.
- Brett Pill, trying to earn a bench job, went 2 for 5 with a pair of home runs, including the game-tying blast in the top of the ninth to complete a four-run inning. He also struck out twice. Not too surprising. Pill hits fastballs, and pitchers throw a lot of fastballs in the spring. During the season, they’ll throw to the scouting report. And when facing Pill, that means a lot of off-speed stuff.
- Roger Kieschnick, another outfielder trying to make the team, went 2 for 3 with a double, run and strikeout.
- Infielder Brock Bond hit a two-run homer in the ninth. The Giants, after going homerless in their first three games, belted three against L.A.
So you’d think since we were advocating for Ryan Vogelsong to be the opening day starter that we’d be upset with Bruce Bochy’s announced rotation.
Bochy said the rotation will go like this:
- RHP Matt Cain
- LHP Madison Bumgarner
- RHP Tim Lincecum
- LHP Barry Zito
- RHP Ryan Vogelsong
But we don’t have any problem with this rotation, and here are six good reasons why we like this rotation.
NO. 1: Barry Zito earned the right to open the home opener when the Giants will hoist their 2012 World Series flag. It was Zito who saved the season in Game 5 of the NLCS with his gem in the fourth of the six elimination games the Giants faced last fall.
NO. 2: It sets up the right-left-right-left-right format in the rotation.
NO. 3: Putting Lincecum at the No. 3 slot instead of Vogelsong keeps Timmy’s fragile psyche in place. Vogey can handle being the No. 5 better than Lincecum, who has been the No. 1 guy the past four seasons.
NO. 4: The Giants have won the past 14 games started by Zito, and the Giants want to win their home opener.
NO. 5: Last weekend when Cain, Bumgarner and Lincecum started the season opening series in Arizona — not necessarily in that order — and the Giants lost all three games, it was Zito who pitched a shutout in his season debut in Colorado. Pitching in San Francisco will be much easier.
NO. 6: It’s sets up the rotation against the Cardinals exactly as it aligned in Games 5, 6 and 7 of the NLCS: Zito, Vogelsong, Cain.
Last year, I put up a post about Tim Lincecum’s hair. It was prior to his second start of the season when he spent an off day in Denver getting a hair cut.
Lincecum said last season he was going for the Tom Cruise “Ghost Protocol” look when somewhat trimmed down his flowing locks.
But the look Lincecum showed up with on Friday is something completely different. It’s more like Tom Cruise “A Few Good Men.”
We haven’t seen Lincecum’s hair THIS short since his 2007 rookie season. That was two Cy Youngs ago, and after last season, that seems like an eternity ago.
But it appears as if The Freak is looking for a fresh start.
And that’s a good idea after a forgettable 2012. Obviously, 2013 is a huge season for The Freak.
We’ll have more on that later.
Pablo Sandoval was the MVP of the 2012 World Series. And that was an easy call.
The Panda hit .500 (8 for 16) with three home runs, four RBI, a double and only two strikeouts. And, of course, he had the three-homer game.
But there were a lot of MVPs in the World Series for the Giants. Here are others:
RHP Tim Lincecum 4.2 IP, 0 hits, 0 runs, one walk, eight strikeouts
RHP Sergio Romo 3 IP, 0 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, five strikeouts, three saves
LHP Madison Bumgarner 7 IP, 2 hits, 0 runs, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts, 1 win.
RHP Ryan Vogelsong, 5.2 IP, 5 hits, 0 run, 4 walks, 3 strikeouts, 1 win
OF Gregor Blanco, 4-15 (.267), 3B, RBI, three great catches, great relay throw to Marco Scutaro to get Prince Fielder at the plate
C Buster Posey, 4-15 (.267), HR, 3 RBI, caught outstanding series, two shutouts.
LHP Barry Zito, 5.2 IP, 6 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts, 1 win, 1-2, RBI
LHP Jeremy Affeldt, 2 IP, 0 hit, 0 run, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts
SS Brandon Crawford, 3-12 (.250), RBI, stolen base, outstanding defensive shortstop
Game 1 of the 2012 World Series featured three Cy Young Award winners, and one of them got rocked.
It wasn’t Barry Zito.
It wasn’t Tim Lincecum.
It was Justin Verlander.
On an amazing night at AT&T Park, Zito had another amazing outing. Zito gave up one run on six hits and one walk in 5 2/3 innings, striking out three.
Zito didn’t want to come out with two outs in the sixth, after throwing 81 pitches.
Eighty-one pitches to get through almost six innings?!?!? From Zito!?!? He needed 76 to get through 2 2/3 in Cincinnati two weeks ago.
But in the past two postseason starts, Zito has been efficient with his pitches. He’s stayed in the strike zone, pitched to contact and trusted his defense.
On Wednesday, they helped him out. Gregor Blanco made two very nice sliding catches on sinking liners off the bat of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. He got Dmitri Young to hit into a double play with a chop off the plate that was fielded nicely by Buster Posey.
When Zito averages fewer than four pitches per batter faced, good things happen.
In Game 5 of the NLCS, he averaged 3.97 pitches per batter. In Game 1 of the World Series, it was 3.52. In Game 4 of the NLDS vs. the Reds, it was 4.75.
In his final five starts of the regular season (all Zito wins, four of which were quality starts, the other one out from a quality start), Zito averaged 4.15, 3.81, 3.54, 3.78 and 3.88.
And then there was Tim Lincecum, who retired all seven batters he faced in 2 1/3 innings of relief, striking out five of them.
In Lincecum’s one postseason start, he gave up four runs on six hits with three walks and three strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings. In his four postseason relief appearances, he’s given up one run on three hits with one walk and 14 strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings pitched.
“For me, it’s just getting mentally locked in,” Lincecum said. “When I’m starting, I fall off. I start thinking about the wrong things. When I’m in the bullpen, I’m just out there, just thinking about getting outs.”
Clearly, the bullpen is the place for the Freak this October. And Bochy was brilliant to leave him there.
If there was one complaint about Bochy’s usage of Lincecum, it’s that I would have rather seen Lincecum not used in Game 1 to nurse a 6-1 lead when there were only 10 outs to get.
I felt like the Giants could have managed the relief innings Wednesday with the likes of George Kontos, Jeremy Affeldt, Jose Mijares and Santiago Casilla.
I would have felt much better with the Freak in the pen in Game 2, behind the out-of-whack Madison Bumgarner.
After Lincecum had only needed 19 pitches to get four outs, I thought Bochy should have gone to another reliever after the Giants added some insurance runs. But Lincecum came back for the eighth. Apparently Bochy made a commitment not to use Lincecum on back-to-back days, however many pitches he used.
But Bochy’s thought process probably was that it was better to use a committee of 4-5 relievers in the event of another meltdown by MadBum in Game 2, given the day off on Friday, than to use the pen heavy in Game 1.
We’ll see if he’s right.
Or ever better, we won’t have to see … provided that Bumgarner can give the Giants 5 or 6 quality innings. But that’s something we haven’t seen a lot of in the past two months.