Talking Giants Baseball: A San Francisco Giants/Baseball Blog: July 2013

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Could Tim Lincecum's No-Hitter Be a Turning Point?

The San Francisco Giants, losers of eight of their last 11, badly needed a spark.

They may have been ignited by the San Diego Padres and Tim Lincecum.

The Freak hurled 148 pitches to accomplish the 15th no-hitter in franchise history. The result was a team-wide spirited celebration at the pitchers mound that started with a sneak-attack bear hug by catcher Buster Posey to Lincecum.

Could the sweep at the hands of the New York Mets truly have been rock-bottom? Is this the turning point the Giants have been looking for?

The team needed something to give them energy--some hope--but recent history may dictate that the no-hitter may not matter too much.

Last year, after Matt Cain's June 13 perfect game, the Giants went 2-5 in the games after the no-hitter. That included a June 14 loss to the Houston Astros 6-3 on the next day.

After Jonathan Sanchez's July 10, 2009 no-hitter, the Giants won the next game 2-1, but lost the next six-out-of-seven after that.

And how did the Reds do after Homer Bailey's no-hitter about a week-and-a-half ago? They are 4-6 since then.

The difference among those others teams is they were well above .500 at the time of their no-hitters. The Giants have no time for the hangover effect--every game right now is too important.

After the no-hitter, the Giants are still seven games below .500, and six-and-a-half games behind the first place Arizona Diamondbacks. The Giants have put themselves in a position in mid-July where they have to get closer to .500 fast--and it starts with taking advantage of a struggling Padres team by sweeping them in four games.

If there's one thing on the Giants' side going forward, it's that the no-hitter lifted and energized a team that was badly struggling--and well under .500. Today's game means going into the All-Star break eight games or six games below .500--and the latter sounds much better.

The Giants should celebrate the no-hitter, but they can't get complacent. Winning three-out-of-four in San Diego keeps the Giants alive, but a four-game sweep would put them truly right back in the National League West race.


Lincecum (5-9) has evolved from thrower to pitcher. He carved up the Padres in a completely different way than vintage Lincecum would have.

Instead of blowing hitters away with a mid-90s fastball, Lincecum relied on good location with all of his pitches. Just like Homer Bailey threw almost exclusively fastballs to Giants hitters late in the game at the time of his no-hitter, Lincecum threw change-up (or splitter) after change-up.

Lincecum was just as effective.

More importantly, this proved to him that he could still be a premiere pitcher without a blazing fastball. It will give him confidence going forward and teach him how to pitch to contact.

Even so, as long as he has that change-up, the strikeouts will be there when he needs them. He had 13 in his no-hitter last night.


It's good to see the Giants' offense finally return to something more normal. In the first inning, Pablo Sandoval turned on a 94-mph fastball and raked a RBI double.

Brandon Belt, who looked overmatched at the plate, also turned on a good fastball. Instead of swinging and missing, like he has been doing almost automatic, he ripped a 95-mph fastball over the right-center-field fence for a two-run home run.

The hitters' timing is coming back.


The Giants cannot stop now. Barry Zito (4-6, 4.62) will take on Eric Stults (7-7, 3.50), who threw a complete-game shutout against the Colorado Rockies in his last start.

They need to keep playing good baseball and battle if they want to get back over .500.

It starts by kicking a team that is down, like the Padres--meaning a sweep. There are no more mulligans if you are seven games below .500 and are serious about climbing out of the hole.

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Sunday, July 7, 2013

At Least Three Giants Heading to 2013 All-Star Game

NLCS MVP Marco Scutaro

Buster PoseyMadison Bumgarner (2)

The world-champion San Francisco Giants will have at least three representatives at the 2013 All-Star Game  at Citi Field in New York.

 To the victors go the spoils--the old saying rings true in this year's Midsummer Classic. The defending world champions are six games below .500, and are in fourth place in the National League West, but have the most All-Star representatives among National League teams below .500.

Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, and Marco Scutaro are the trio of Giants that will be at the 2013 All-Star game in the Big Apple.

St. Louis Cardinal's catcher Yadier Molina beat out Posey in the voting. Although Posey has more home runs and RBIs, Molina leads baseball with a .346 batting average and may be the best defensive catcher in the game.

Bumgarner probably got his spot because--well--Bruce Bochy is the National League manager, and the 23-year-old right-hander has been the most consistent pitcher for the Giants. After his masterful seven-inning, two-run performance Saturday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Bumgarner has a 3.05 ERA and the fourth-lowest WHIP (walks and hit per innings pitched) in the league at 0.97.

Scutaro is having a solid season following his career year in 2012. He is hitting .311 with a .346 on-base percentage.

Aside from the recent road trip, he continues to be a spark plug at the top of the Giants lineup.

Scutaro is honored Bochy selected him.

"I spend 10 years in the big leagues and have never been there," Scutaro told the San Jose Mercury News. "I'm kind of at the end of my career and to be able to live that experience, it's special."

This is Scutaro's first All-Star appearance in his 11-season big-league career.

And the Giants could have one more--but that's unlikely. Right-fielder Hunter Pence is in the final vote between five All-Star hopefuls, but he has the worst numbers among the quintet.

He is also mired in a slump. He is 2-for-23 in his last seven games (.087 average) and has to compete with Dodgers' rookie sensation Yasiel Puig--who is batting .407 with eight home runs in his first month as a big-leaguer.

But one cannot underestimate the passion and support Giants fans have for their players. Last year, fans voted Pablo Sandoval over David Wright as the starting third baseman in the 2012 All-Star game, even though Wright was hitting 50 points better than Sandoval, with more home runs and RBIs at the time.

Sandoval was leading in the polls a few weeks ago, but his recent 3-for-28 road trip shrunk his batting average from .293 down to .269. Wright is hitting .304 and has five more home runs that Sandoval (with 13)--and has a .393 on-base percentage.

The fans got it right in 2013 by voting in Wright as the NL's starting third baseman.

Giants' manager Bruce Bochy will be managing this year's NL All-Star team, so he may try to sneak in another one of his players if there is a need for an injured reserve.

Closer Sergio Romo is a possibility. He has a 2.25 ERA, with 20 saves and a 0.97 WHIP.

And striking out Puig and Adrian Gonzalez in the bottom of the ninth inning of yesterday's game against the Dodgers doesn't hurt his cause either.

Full All-Star game rosters can be found here.

Photos by By Eltiempo10 (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons, SD Dirk, and Michael Marconi.

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