Game 1: Reds 5, Giants 2
Game 2: Reds 9, Giants 0
Game 3: Giants 2, Reds 1, 10 inn.
Game 4: Giants 8, Reds 3
Game 5: Giants (Cain) vs. Reds (Latos), 10:07 a.m. Thursday (TBS)
For the 13th consecutive time, the Giants won a game started by Barry Zito.
But like in a few other of the Zito’s previous 12 starts, the Giants won not because of him, but in spite of him.
Zito exited after 76 pitches in 2 2/3 innings, giving up two run on four hits, four walks. One of the runs the Reds scored off Zito came on three successive walks.
George Kontos came to clean up Zito’s mess in the third. When two Reds reached on infield singles in the fourth, Jose Mijares got Joey Votto, then Tim Lincecum entered.
This was the Tim Lincecum from Sunday’s game. The Tim Lincecum of the 2010 playoffs. The Tim Lincecum of the 2008 and 2009 Cy Young seasons.
Lincecum pitched 4.1 innings, giving up one run on two hits with no walks and six strikeouts.
He threw 55 pitches, 42 for strikes.
That goes with two scoreless innings he threw Sunday.
Combine the two relief efforts:
6.1 IP, 1 ER, 3 hits, 0 BB, 8 K. 80 pitches, 59 for strikes.
If you compare that line with any of Lincecum’s starts this season, in some ways there’s no comparison.
Number of Lincecum starts this season with zero walks? None.
Number of Lincecum starts in which Lincecum allowed three or fewer hits: Three. But in all three, he walked four.
So what’s the difference between Lincecum start and Lincecum out of the pen? Timmy didn’t really say.
“Right now, I fee like times are different,” Lincecum told the San Jose Mercury-News. “We’re playing to get to the NLCS and further. So I feel that, with that motivation, I don’t think about the difference between starting and being in a bullpen situation. It’s just that I’ve got to get my outs and do my job.”
On the flip side of the game, the Giants’ offense finally woke up.
For a team that had four runs on 10 hits in the first three games, the Giants broke free for eight runs on 11 runs on Wednesday.
Home runs from Angel Pagan in the first and Gregor Blanco in the second gave the Giants’ an early 3-1 lead they would not relinquish.
In the seventh, Pablo Sandoval launched a long, two-run home run that measured an estimated 422 feet to seal the deal. I didn’t see where it landed, but it was headed to the Ohio River.
Since this is MoreSplashHits, we celebrate splash hits, even near splash hits on the road.
So here’s the video.
Now the Giants have become the first NL team to fall behind 2-0 in the Division Series to force a Game 5 by winning two road games.
They’ve already made history once, why not do it again, by becoming the first NLDS team to advance after falling behind 0-2.
I’m stunned. Absolutely stunned.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy announced Sunday who will start Game 3 in Cincinnati: Ryan Vogelsong.
After Vogelsong pitched last week in Los Angeles — his third consecutive solid start after a very rough patch in August and early September — I felt Vogelsong was the best option for Game 3.
He has allowed one earned run in 17 innings over his last three starts. He’s back to the Vogelsong of old.
Tim Lincecum has just been to inconsistent this season, especially of late.
In his final two starts of the regular seasons, Lincecum got tagged for 11 earned runs in 10 innings.
And Barry Zito is, well, Barry Zito.
I felt best about Vogelsong in Game 3, regardless of the situation. I’m sure most Giants fans feel the same way.
I just wasn’t sure if Bruce Bochy would feel the same.
Bochy’s M.O. over the years have been to go with players who have success in the past — not necessarily in the present.
We saw it all last year when he sided with a struggling Aubrey Huff, instead of Brandon Belt. And there have been numerous others examples.
With Bochy, sometimes it seems more about loyalty than results.
I thought Bochy would go with Lincecum in Game 3, and Zito in Game 4, with Vogelsong coming out of the pen.
There is some logic to that strategy as Vogelsong is probably the best suited of the three to work out of the pen.
Bochy did not announce who would pitch Game 4, “but we have a pretty good idea of what we want to do,” he said.
Translation: Barry Zito pitches Game 4. But Bochy is leaving that option open, depending on what happens in Games 2 and 3.
The Giants have won the last 11 games in which Barry Zito has started, dating back to Aug. 7 in St. Louis. Zito was 5-0 in his last five starts, allowing eight earned runs in 30.2 innings (a 2.35 ERA). And the Reds have several key left-handed bats in their lineup.
Bochy said he talked to Lincecum and he’s ready to do anything he can to help the team, which Bochy said includes coming out of the pen.
Again, another sign that Zito is the Game 4 option.
But Lincecum out of the pen? I’m not so sure about that.
Lincecum posted a 7.64 ERA this season in the first inning of games. That doesn’t speak to a lot of confidence of him coming out of the pen. He’s struggled to find his rhythm early.
So is Lincecum only an option to pitch as an innings eater in the event the Giants fall behind big early in the game?
If so, it seems like a waste of a roster spot. But he is a two-time Cy Young winner. Although those trophies don’t get you any outs this October.
So it’s Ryan Vogelsong in Game 3, Barry Zito probably in Game 4, Matt Cain in Game 5. And Tim Lincecum in the pen.
I bet you Chris Lincecum, Timmy’s daddy, is going nuts right about now.
Pitching wins championships. It’s an overused cliche. But when it comes to the Giants, it’s true.
Pitching drove them to the 2010 World Series title. It kept the team’s head above water when it lost Buster Posey in 2011. And it can keep the Giants driving toward the postseason in 2012.
As of Aug. 16, the Giants’ team ERA of 3.66 ranks fifth in the National League. But it does not compare to the 3.20 ERA of 2011 or the 3.36 of 2010.
However, if you remove Tim Lincecum’s numbers from the team ERA, it sits at a more comparable 3.38.
Now, we don’t suggest the Giants remove Lincecum from the rotation. We just use that stat to point out that the team’s ERA has been inflated by Lincecum’s dreary first half of the season.
Since the All-Star break, Lincecum has a 3.33 ERA, right in line with what the rest of the staff has produced for the season.
So if Lincecum can continue to pitch like he has since the All-Star break — and the Giants’ weaker schedule should help him do that — the Giants should have the pitching to keep them in the race.
Tim Lincecum talked about some funny things that were going on out on the mound Friday.
But unlike the funny things in his many of his previous starts this season, the Freak was able to laugh of Friday’s freaky stuff.
The first funny thing came in the third inning when Lincecum fielded a comebacker, threw to Buster Posey at first, then started to walk toward the dugout.
One problem: there were only two outs, and the Philadelphia fans let him know it.
“They all together were like ‘What the hell is this guy doing,’ ” Lincecum told the San Jose Mercury News. “I was like ‘All right, I’m an idiot for a minute. Now let’s go back to the mound.”
The second incident, which Lincecum admitted was less funny than the first, came when his foot slipped off the rubber while starting to deliver a pitch to Ryan Howard. The resulting fall led to a balk, which allowed Shane Victorino to score the game’s first run in the fourth inning.
But unlike earlier this season, Lincecum was able to pitch around the mishap and limit the damage to one run.
His Giants’ teammates would reward him with a five-run sixth inning that included a grand slam by Brandon Crawford, and Lincecum had his first road win since April 23.
It’s his second quality start of the season on the road (the first coming in that near disaster in Oakland).
It was his second consecutive quality start — only the second time he’s done that this season. Since the All-Star break, he’s allowed two earned runs in 15 innings with 17 strikeouts and three walks.
“I’ve got two outings that are good behind me, and now it’s about working on that next one,” he said. “I’m not saying by any means that this is: ‘I’m back.’ I’m just trying to get back to that consistency.
“I can use this as my springboard.”
Friday’s outing was the one Giants fans were worried about. After wilting in the East Coast swelter in starts in Washington and Pittsburgh earlier this week, Lincecum was glad to see temps in the 70s in Philadelphia on Friday.
Now his next two starts will come next Wednesday at home against the Padres, then July 31 at home vs. the Mets.
Friday’s start figures to be Lincecum’s last in a potential hot and humid location. If the rotation holds to form, Lincecum would start Aug. 5 at Colorado then miss a four-game set in St. Louis. Then his starts are scheduled to fall like this
- Aug. 10 vs. Colorado (at home)
- Aug. 15 vs. Washington (at home)
- Aug. 21 at L.A. Dodgers
- Aug. 26 vs. Atlanta (at home)
- Sept. 1 at Chicago Cubs
- Sept. 7 vs. L.A. Dodgers (at home)
- Sept. 12 at Colorado
- Sept. 18 vs. Colorado (at home)
- Sept. 23 vs. San Diego (at home)
- Sept. 29 at San Diego
In total from here out, that’s eight home starts and five road starts. A good recipe for the Freak the rest of the way.
Just when we thought Tim Lincecum had turned the corner on his ugly 2012 season, the Freak went and made a U-turn in our nation’s capital.
Lincecum was tagged for a career-high eight runs (seven earned) on nine hits in 3 1/3 innings in a hot, humid night in Washington. Lincecum threw 87 pitches, 48 for strikes.
By comparison, the four pitchers who relieved Lincecum gave up one run on four hits in 4 2/3 innings. George Kontos, Clay Hensley, Brad Penny and Javier Lopez threw a combined 71 pitches, 51 for strikes.
Now, Lincecum is 3-9 with a 6.08 ERA.
Lincecum and Bruce Bochy tried to blame Washington’s hot humid weather in the mid-90s for sapping Lincecum of his strength combined with a rapidly climbing pitch count and advantageous Nationals hitters.
It left many Giants fans wondering if Lincecum has returned to square run after encouraging outings against the A’s and Dodgers in his last two starts.
They are also wondering what are the Giants to do with their former two-time Cy Young winner.
The answer is simple: Nothing.
Bochy said Lincecum will make his next scheduled start Sunday in Pittsburgh before the All-Star break. It’s the right move because there aren’t a lot of better options right now than to hope Lincecum finds his groove again.
The good news for the Giants and Lincecum is the Pirates are 15th in the National League in hitting. The forecast for this weekend in Pittsburgh calls for a high of 100 on Friday, but then cooling to 87 by Sunday.
Then comes the All-Star break, which will allow the Giants to reset their rotation. If they do it right, they could help out Lincecum.
The best spot to start him is in the No. 3 spot in the rotation, which will give him a home start against the Astros on July 15, a game at the Phillies on July 21, then home games on July 27 vs. the Dodgers and Aug. 1 vs. the Mets.
Another option is the No. 5 spot. That would result in a start at the Braves (July 18) then home vs. the Padres (July 23) and Dodgers (July 29). But that would also align him for a start at Colorado on Aug. 3.
The No. 4 spot is the worst, starting with back-to-back hot-weather starts in Atlanta and Philadelphia.
But if by the end of July, there is not marked improvement, the Giants could consider Brad Penny as a rotation replacement. He’s looked solid so far in two relief outings.
Let’s just hope it doesn’t come to that.
Where do we start?
- The Giants beat the Dodgers 3-0 on Wednesday to complete a three-game sweep. That in itself is cause of celebration. But it doesn’t stop there.
- The three-game sweep allowed the Giants to move into a first-place tie with the Dodgers in the NL West, the first time all season the Giants have been in first place.
- It’s the first time the Giants have posted three consecutive shutouts since 1988.
- It’s the first time the Giants have swept a three-game series all by shutouts since 1954.
- It’s the first time the Giants have ever swept the Dodgers with three shutouts.
- It’s the first time the Los Angeles Dodgers have been swept via three shutouts in their history.
- And maybe most importantly, the Freak is back.
Lincecum posted his first victory since April 28, throwing seven innings, giving up four hits and two walks. He struck out eight in a 115-pitch outing.
Combined with his last start in Oakland, Lincecum has thrown 12 consecutive scoreless innings.
The closest the Dodgers came to scoring was in the third inning, when Dodgers pitcher Chad Billingsley doubled with one out. Billingsley took third on a wild pitch, the first (and only) time in the series that the Dodgers got a runner to third.
Lincecum bounced another pitch that got away from catcher Hector Sanchez. But Sanchez was able to get to the ball and throw to Lincecum covering home, who tagged out Billingsley trying to score.
Clearly, the Dodgers are scuffling on offense right now. But combined with his previous start, it was the kind of start that Lincecum can give confidence going forward.
Lincecum worked himself out of trouble a few times Wednesday. He got an inning-ending double play in the first inning. There was the Billingsley play in the third.
In the seventh, the Dodgers had runners on first and second and one out. Manager Bruce Bochy came out, and it looked like Lincecum might be done. But Bochy left him in, and the Freak got Tony Gwynn Jr. to fly to center and then he struck out Juan Uribe to end the inning.
A Freaky Finish.
Lincecum’s next start will come on Tuesday in Washington vs. the Nationals. Then he should get another start before the All-Star break in Pittsburgh.
Look for another pitchers’ duel Thursday as the Reds come into town for a four-game series. Madison Bumgarner faces Johnny Cueto for a 7:15 p.m. start Thursday.
It’s hard to label a win over a sub-.500 team in June as a pivotal game.
But if this season turns out with a happy ending coming September, the Giants may look back at June 22 as a turning point.
And the weird thing about it is that it looked nothing like a happy ending when this game started.
Tim Lincecum took the mound Friday and seemed headed to his most disastrous start of the ugliest season of his big-league career.
Lincecum had not recorded an out and the A’s had scored three runs and had the bases loaded, looking for more. Shane Loux was feverishly warming up in the bullpen.
Then something flipped in the Freak. We think he just got ticked off.
Lincecum would strike out the next three batters to end the inning.
Lincecum would finish his night by retiring 18 of the final 20 batters he faced, allowing only two-out walks in the second and sixth innings. He gave up three runs on three hits and four walks in six innings for his first quality start since May 30 and the third this season.
Almost just as unlikely was the way it ended for the Giants.
Lincecum left trailing 3-1 and it looked like he was going to fall to 2-9 on the season.
But the Giants rallied for four runs in the top of the ninth — Brandon Belt’s two-run double the big hit — to end a six-game losing streak in Oakland.
The Giants improved to 2-29 in games in which they trailed after eight innings.
Before striking out those three batters to end the first inning, Lincecum’s outing was a mixture of bad pitches from Lincecum, bad luck and bad defense.
Coco Crisp led off the game with a ground ball that Ryan Theriot was able to get to, but not able to throw out the speedy Crisp. Infield single.
Crisp stole second. Then Lincecum completely lost track of Crisp as he stole third — without a throw and standing up.
Jemile Weeks then singled to center just past Lincecum’s glove in the hardest hit ball of the inning.
At this point, you were thinking that Lincecum should just shake off that first run and reset himself.
He gave up a soft liner to right by Josh Reddick. But Nate Schierholtz, in right field because Angel Pagan was out with an abdominal strain (if Pagan plays, Blanco is in right), got a bad break on the ball and allowed it to fall for a single.
Lincecum then made it worse by walking Yoenis Cespedes to load the bases.
Looking for an inning-ending double play, Lincecum instead got Seth Smith to ground the ball to first baseman Brandon Belt.
Belt had two options here: A) throw home immediately to try to force out Weeks at home; B) take the ball to the bag, get the out there and allow the run to score.
Belt chose option C. He started to run toward the bag, but never touched it before throwing home, keeping the force intact. However, catcher Hector Sanchez wasn’t aware that the force was still in play, so he was not standing on the plate when he received Belt’s throw, allowing Weeks to slide under him to score.
So instead of being down 2-0 with one out and runners on second and third, Lincecum was down 2-0 with the bases loaded and no one out.
He made matters worse by walking Brandon Inge to make it 3-0.
Then, suddenly, just as things looked as if everything was going to completely unravel, the Lincecum of old showed up.
With his three first-inning strikeouts, Lincecum threw 43 pitches in the first inning. He would throw 62 over the next five innings to finish with 105.
Hopefully, HOPEFULLY, this is the start Lincecum has been looking for to turn the corner. It was against the A’s, the worst-hitting team in the majors. But at this point, we’ll take any positive step we can get.
Lincecum’s next start will come Wednesday afternoon at home against the Dodgers and Chad Billingsley, a pitcher who has been battling struggles of his own.
After winning a game that looked like the worst pitching matchup of the series for the Giants, San Francisco will try to win Game 2 with its best pitching matchup when Madison Bumgarner takes on Tyson Ross at 4:05 p.m. Saturday in a game televised by FOX.