Tim Lincecum was pitching an incredible game at AT&T park. 8 1/3 innings, 3 hits, 1 ER and boat-load of Ks. Yet ‘the Freak’ walks the second hitter in the 9th only to be immediately yanked by Bochy and replaced by the permanently enraged (and brave to the point of disaster) Brian Wilson. Wilson promptly blew the game (he didn’t even blow the save as all he needed to do was secure 2 outs), setting the plate for the inevitable extra-innings victory by the Phillies.
Lincecum had thrown 106 pitches.
Initially I had intended this post to focus around the increasingly popular issues of pitch-counts, particularly in the face of players being on the brink of making history (a la CC Sabathia and Ubaldo Jiminez). However, I’m not sure there’s much I can add to that debate. Let it just be said that, for the record, pitch-counts and late-season shut downs are bad for baseball. They are bad for the excitement of the games themselves (a hot topic given the recent comments by umpires about the pace of the game), they are bad for the fans who pay to see aces like Sabathia and Lincecum go deep into games and they are bad for the legacy and achievement of the pitchers involved. While no-one wants to see a league littered with once great pitchers becoming the next Mark Prior or Kerry Wood big league managers should be giving these pitchers the chance to stay in games if they feel they can. Lincecum had a huge smile on his face after getting the first out in the 9th yesterday. He wasn’t given the chance to stay in the game. Why not? The guy is a two-time Cy Young winner, no-one on the Giants gives that team a better chance to win the game than Lincecum, even at 106 pitches.
Rather than getting bogged down in the comparative merits of pitch counts and arm preservation I shall change the theme of this post entirely. It is an unashamed peon to the genius of Lincecum and a plea for the Giants to do all they can to give the guy a chance to win a historic third Cy Young.
Let’s face it, if Tim is to stand a chance of picking up the award against the far better supported likes of Carpenter, Wainwright and Halladay he has to be given every chance to win games he starts.
With a line-up that fades into obscurity rapidly after Pablo Sandoval and (arguably) Bengie Molina, Lincecum is only going to get so many chances to win games 3-1 against the stacked offence of the Phillies.
The Cy Young voters had an anomalous year last year and voted for Lincecum despite his having less wins that the Cardinal’s twin aces. With a prospect of a Lincecum-Halladay showdown this year the Giants need to do all they can to give Tim the best shot he can get. After all there is a lot in it for them. San Francisco is still best known as the home of Barry Bonds, the home of Barry Zito and his grotesque contract (which, admittedly is becoming less and less burdensome as he finally performs). AT&T park was buzzing yesterday as San Franciscans clamoured to travel over the grid-locked bridge to see Lincecum’s ‘poetry-in-motion’ delivery. If Lincecum wins a third straight Cy Young he enters the rarefied atmosphere of pitching greatness; he becomes Sandy Koufax, Pedro Martinez and Dwight Gooden. He becomes a hall of famer.
In short, Giants: Tim Lincecum has earned your trust and the right to win games on his own terms, don’t screw him up.
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