EXTRA BAGGS: Lincecum offers a sugar high, etc.


EXTRA BAGGS: Lincecum offers a sugar high, etc.


SAN FRANCISCO When you absorb the worst postseason shutoutloss in franchise history, the feel-good moments usually end with thethundering flyover during the National Anthem.

Tim Lincecum provided one more turbo boost, such as it was.

Lincecum, the cause of so much consternation this season,made his third career relief appearance his second in a playoff game andtemporarily stoked a sellout crowd when he took the mound in the sixth inningSunday night.

Lincecum retired six of seven batters over two scorelessinnings, earning a standing ovation from fans who otherwise used their rallyrags to dab at their eyes in a 9-0 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy needed a couple clean innings tokeep a four-run game from splitting open. But maybe he also hoped Lincecumcould pep up the paying customers, and by extension, cause a stirring in some of hishitters.

Its hard to get the crowd into it when you dont getrunners on base, Bochy said.

The crowd down the left field line responded as soon asLincecum peeled off a gray sweatshirt and made his way to the bullpen mound tojoin lefty Jose Mijares in the bottom of the fifth. Lincecum only made two orthree warmup tosses as Brandon Belt broke up Bronson Arroyos perfect game witha single. Gregor Blanco grounded out to end the inning, and there was aconfused moment as Lincecum, already back in the dugout, was told to take themound.

RATTO: It's do or be done for Giants

The Giants called back Mijares, who had gotten as far as theinfield dirt.

We told both of them, Blanco, if he gets up, were going todouble switch, Bochy said. I think they were confused because the pitcherdidnt come up, but he said he was ready. He doesnt throw much anyway, Timmy,and he went out there and did a great job.

Lincecum threw 17 of his 25 pitches for strikes and left to a standing ovation, although it was a sugar high. The Giants didn't get a runner into scoring position until the eighth inning -- and that came, poetically, on defensive indifference.

The game exploded in the eighth, but Bochy didn't want to send Lincecum out there for a third inning. He said he took out his two-time Cy Young Award winner turned mop-up man to savehis pitch count, both to keep him a viable option to appear in relief again andalso to preserve him for a potential start.

All those options are open and I was glad to see him throwlike that, Bochy said. He was really good, I thought good with his commandand he kept the ball down and had all his pitches working.

Now we have the option, if he wants, or we want to use himin the pen in the first or second game in Cincinnati. Or start him if we havethat option.

Picking a Game 4 starter? Now thats a dilemma the Giantswould be thrilled to have.

Some folks are bound to speculate that the Giants are gettingtheir tails kicked because they clinched too early. I dont buy that.

But I do think the Giants soft schedule in September isworking to their disadvantage, in a sense. They didnt have to face muchfirst-division pitching while feasting on the Rockies, Padres and the like.They didnt see many lineups that had the kind of talent and continuity thatthe Reds throw at you on a given night. And although the Giants have shown anability to rally, they havent had to do it against the team with the lowestbullpen ERA in the National League.

Bottom line time: the Giants starters arent pitching wellenough -- even in their shelteredcove. There is no more certain way to get bounced from a short series

Wheels up in six hours for me, with a stop in Chicago andthen a 50-mile drive from Dayton to Cincinnati.

If this is the last game Ill cover at AT&T Park thisseason, its been entirely memorable. And for one night, perfect.

Giants hire David Bell to fill key front office role


Giants hire David Bell to fill key front office role

SAN FRANCISCO -- A familiar face is returning to the Giants organization to serve a key front office role.

The Giants announced Friday that David Bell, their former third baseman, has been hired as Vice President of Player Development. General manager Bobby Evans said Bell will oversee all aspects of player development, including hitting, pitching, strength and conditioning and the operations of the minor league affiliates. 

"He was the perfect fit," Evans said. "His experience is so strong and encompasses so many aspects of the game. He’s got a really strong base of experience and background and understanding of the game, and he has a passion for the game and working with young players. He really showed a desire to pursue this opportunity." 

Bell, 45, played 12 major league seasons and spent 2002 with the Giants. He hit 20 homers that year as the starting third baseman and scored the winning run in the final game of the NLCS. Since retiring, Bell has served as a minor league manager for the Reds and a big league coach for the Cubs and Cardinals. He spent last season as the bench coach in St. Louis. 

Shane Turner had previously served as farm director, but at the end of the minor league season he was asked to take a role as a special assistant in baseball operations. While Evans did not announce any other changes Friday, there are expected to be other moves within the organization's depth chart. At least one member of the coaching staff is still in the running for a managerial opening. 

Dusty Baker won't be remembered the way he should be remembered


Dusty Baker won't be remembered the way he should be remembered

Firing a manager is easy, and there are lots of ways to do it.

Dusty Baker, for example. He worked this year on the last year of a contract, which usually means there won’t be another one, and he relied on his players to deliver the goods.

Which, as we remember from our reading, they didn’t do. Again.

But Baker was marked for the chop unless those players did deliver, and when they didn’t, general manager Mike Rizzo did the expedient thing.

He fired one person rather than several. And changed exactly nothing.

Baker’s managerial career is probably over now, as most teams don’t look at 68-year-olds to fix their teams. He will never manage a  World Series champion, something he ached for, and he was always be caricatured in part as the guy who didn’t speak metric, and who believed in players as men whenever in doubt.

And the Nats didn’t betray him, either. They were always not as good in the big moments because someone else was, and they became part of Washington’s new fetish – Why Can’t We Win One? It’s as if having a cringeworthy President isn’t good enough for them.

So the time came, and he will be replaced by someone who will either win and get credit for work that was largely his, or he won’t win and the town can continue to wallow in its tedious We’re-The-New-Cubs pity. It is the circle of life.

At least it is for groups of people. For individuals, the circle of life is actually nothing more than a straight line that ends abruptly. For Dusty Baker, as it did for Tony La Russa in Phoenix two days earlier, that day came today. He deserves to be remembered as a very good manager who won a lot more than he lost, made more friends than enemies, and was honest from Day One until the end.

Which, as we also know, doesn’t matter a whole lot on days like this.