Giants bash, Lincecum wins to improve NL West math


Giants bash, Lincecum wins to improve NL West math


DENVER There is plenty of math in baseball. Here are somefun numbers for Giants fans to contemplate:

If the Giants merely go 8-9 to finish the season, theDodgers must go 15-4 to tie them atop the NL West standings. Oh yeah: And theDodgers have a home series coming up with the wild-card jousting St. LouisCardinals, followed by a road trip with stops in division-leading Washington and Cincinnati.

Or if you prefer the neat and tidy version: The Giantsmagic number is 13.

They took one more step toward their second NL West title inthree seasons and their ninth since moving to San Francisco, beating theColorado Rockies 8-3 behind Tim Lincecum in yet another thumper at Coors FieldWednesday night.

Combined with the Dodgers third consecutive loss, theGiants stretched their NL West lead to seven games with 19 to play.

Trailing the Dodgers for most of the season, the Giants tookfirst place July 14. Since then, they are 8-0-1 in nine road series. AndLincecum, for all his trials this season, has won five consecutive road starts something hes never accomplished before in his career.

Lincecums key moment came in the sixth inning, with theGiants leading 5-3 and the Rockies threatening. Giants manager Bruce Bochy cameout from the dugout following Charlie Blackmons pinch double, but thedouble-time in his step told everyone that he wasnt going to ask for thebaseball.

He wanted to look his pitcher in the eye and make sure hesaw what he wanted to see.

Lincecum went slider-curve-fastball to strike out DexterFowler and complete a six-inning performance that lacked aesthetic appeal butfilled the bill.

I said, Youre the guy right now. Focus on your pitches,Bochy said. He made three great pitches there. I think he knew that was hislast hitter so he gave it his all.

Your starters are critical for you, believe me. Weve had acouple guys have their hiccups. Hes picked up his game and helped to pick usup.

Lincecum has a 3.33 ERA in the second half after a 6.42 ERA before the All-Star break. More to thepoint, the Giants are 10-6 in his last 16 starts after beginning the year 2-12in his first 14 assignments.

It feels good from a personal standpoint, Lincecum said.You want to get better as the year goes along. Ive completely eliminated myfirst half from my mindset. My second half has been a little better and knowingwhat were striving for, and what direction were going into, that motivationis a little deeper.

Is he ready to take the ball in the front three of a playoffrotation? Where would the Giants slot Lincecum, who carried them so far in2010?

Those are questions that do not require answers for a coupleweeks still. But Lincecum said he would be ready for the stage when it arrives.

Right now Im not pitching great, but Im getting out ofjams, which was a lot different than the first half, he said.

Hed also like to be more efficient. Lincecum has thrownmore than 100 pitches in each of his last three starts but hasnt made it intothe seventh inning. And there are those walks four more on Wednesday,including three in the first two innings.

Including his two previous starts, Lincecum became the firstGiants starting pitcher since John DAcquisto in 1976 to walk at least onebatter in 10 consecutive innings. Thats not a distinction he embraced, even ifonly two of those 11 walks came around to score.

Im messing with fire there, obviously, he said. It onlytakes one blooper to turn it into a big inning. Its a fine line, but it givesme confidence to know Im in a jam and can get out of it.

Now the Dodgers, for all their high-priced acquisitions, arein the thick of it. While they try to rattle off an improbable run against someof the top teams in the NL, the Giants will play their next 16 games againstthe Diamondbacks, Rockies and Padres.

Theres one way the West is being won: The Giants are 32-21against division opponents. The Dodgers are 28-35. Thats a nine-game swingbetween the clubs.

Dont expect Bochy to take it easy or start skippingstarters or playing reserves anytime soon, though. Heck, he used sevenrelievers to get nine outs at Coors Field. He even used Guillermo Mota, JavierLopez and Sergio Romo one batter at a time to get through the ninth, despite afive-run lead.

Is he being paid by the pitching change?

Well, I think we all know this ballpark, Bochy said. Youdont want a rally getting started because once it starts, its hard to stop.

Confidence works that way, too. The Giants are awash in it.

Dave Righetti is the face of the Giants' rebuild so far


Dave Righetti is the face of the Giants' rebuild so far

There was something almost disturbingly surreptitious about the Giants’ decision to announce Dave Righetti’s removal as pitching coach (for a front office job) Saturday. Saturday, after all, is the day you typically bury sports news that isn’t football, or related to football in some way.

But that could just be us being needlessly conspiratorial. We’re willing to bestow, if not the benefit of the doubt, at least the lack of doubt.

Still, Righetti’s reassignment, and those of bullpen coach Mark Gardner and assistant hitting coach Steve Decker, makes it clear that however the Giants want to avoid the use of the word “rebuilding,” they are indeed rebuilding – just not in the traditional new-players-for-old way.

General manager Bobby Evans made it clear without saying the words that Righetti’s messaging had lost its efficacy with the younger pitchers, who for the most part had not been part of the franchise’s most glorious times. And since the only pitchers still on the 40-man roster who had been with the club for its last World Series parade are Madison Bumgarner and Hunter Strickland, Evans clearly concluded that the message to the new staff needed to come from elsewhere.

Now this assumes that the problem with the Giants’ pitching was not the talent level or the execution, of course. Typically, it takes a lot for a manager or coach to screw up his job so profoundly that he needs to be replaced – mostly it’s considered an environmental matter that a new voice saying the old stuff is sufficient. It’s really more alchemy than science, and alchemy is fairly hit-or-miss.

But it is change where the Giants feel they can change; their four starters (Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and Matt Moore) and closer (Mark Melancon) are in for $70.8 million this coming year, so a full-on demolition is not cost effective, and the young’uns (Chris Stratton, Strickland, Cory Gearrin, Derek Law, et. al.) remain in that tenuous middle ground between dependable and disposable. In other words, there aren’t a lot of options for dramatic player change, and the Giants don’t look to be aggressive buyers in the off-season, crackpot Giancarlo Stanton rumors notwithstanding.

So this is the face of the Giants’ rebuild so far – Dave Righetti, Mark Gardner and Steve Decker. Make of the act and the circumstances of the release of the information what you will, but as it is neither the manager (Bruce Bochy is golden) or the players (who with only a few exceptions are decidedly meh, with a side of feh), it will have to do as the first answer to the question, “What do they intend to do about 64-98?"

I mean other than keeping a low profile about it.

Report: Two Giants hitters elect free agency


Report: Two Giants hitters elect free agency

With free agency set to begin five days after the World Series ends, two hitters that played for the Giants during the 2017 season have put their names on the open market.

Veteran third baseman Conor Gillaspie and longtime minor league outfielder Carlos Moncrief have both elected for free agency, according to Baseball America.

The 30-year-old Gillaspie appeared in 44 games for the Giants this past season. He hit just .168/.218/.288 with four doubles, two home runs and eight RBI. He was designated for assignment on August 3 and outrighted to Triple-A Sacramento on August 5. With the River Cats, Gillaspie hit .375 with four doubles in 15 games in August.

Prior to the 2017 season, Gillaspie signed a one-year, $1.4 million deal with the Giants.

As for Moncrief, the soon-to-be 29-year-old finally got his first call-up the majors this past season after eight and a half seasons in the minors. He debuted for the Giants on July 29. In 28 games, he hit .211/.256/.237 with one double and five RBI. While he didn't do much with the bat, Moncrief showed off a cannon for an arm when he patrolled right field.