By Paul Mahaney
The Giants won Saturday 9-0 over the Padres in San Diego, but “The Freak” was the news. Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants threw his first ever no-hitter last night.
Since 2007 Tim Lincecum and the Giants have become synonymous with San Francisco. In that time he has been regarded as the fan favorite. In return he has provided the fans plenty to inspire that loyalty.
He helped nail down for San Francisco its first World Series Championship in 2010. Then last season, while enduring a bad year, he was asked to come out of the bullpen during the playoffs and World Series, and again helped San Francisco win yet another World Championship.
Along the way he has won 2 Cy Young Awards, pitched in 4 All-Star Games, led the National League in strikeouts 3 times, and cut short his once trademark long hair.
This year with the adoption of a thick pair of black rimmed glasses and a miserable season, Tim “The Franchise” Lincecum went from being “The Freak” to just plain freaky.
Tim Lincecum is my favorite player in the game of baseball today. Yet, as loyal as we the fans have been, even we had begun to question if Timmy had what it takes to remain an effective starter with the Giants.
The talk was that with Tim becoming less and less dependable as a starter, would the Giants trade him, or persuade him to pitch out of the bullpen.
He has turned down a generous offer from the Giants, and is eligible for free agency at the end of this year. However few Giant fans want Timmy to leave, and all wish to see him return to form.
Last night perhaps a big step was taken in that direction. Tim Lincecum threw a no-hitter while striking out 13 in the first no-hitter ever thrown in San Diego. He threw 148 pitches never showing any real duress.
Now while this adds to Lincecum and his remarkable career, it needs to be pointed out that Tim has received poor run support, in fact all the Giant pitchers have of late.
Last night Timmy, and the Giants, tried to make a statement that they are not about to give up on the 2013 season. Granted they beat a Padre team for the third straight time one that is not very good, but the Giants are doing what they have to do, making a statement just before the All-Star break.
If Barry Zito can follow Lincecum with a win on the road today it might well set the tone for the second half of the season. At 6 back of Arizona with plenty of division play in front of them the Giants are not out of it by any stretch of the imagination, but there needs to be some change.
Prior to this series San Francisco endured nearly 2 months of ugly baseball, and against not only tough scheduling, but also some very tough teams, while on a gruesome array of long road trips. No one is crying for them, but that was to be expected.
They lost their spark plug, Angel Pagan, to an inside the park home-run injury. Then they watched in horror as nearly every hitter, to the man, began to tank at the same time while they waited for the Panda to return. When Sandoval returned he was less than glorious merely adding to the hitting woes.
During this time only starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner managed to win games. The bullpen is in disarray, although getting Santiago Casilla back should help there.
There will be trades and acquisitions to be sure, but the real secret to the Giants returning to their winning ways lies in a return to form by the pitching staff. They have the talent, and yes the arms are tired from 2 incredibly long seasons played in the last 3 years, but a rest during the All-Star break could help.
It will be a long climb back, but having “The Freak” going freaky may inspire and signal a return to form by the rest of the staff. If the hitters continue what they have been doing in San Diego this weekend, Tim Lincecum may get the credit, and the Giants will be pressured by the fans to keep him home where he belongs.
Tim Lincecum may be freaky, but whenever it appears he is done, he suddenly experiences a rebirth, and that is what seems to make him great.