Ultimate redemption for Zito, Lincecum


Ultimate redemption for Zito, Lincecum

BOX SCORESAN FRANCISCO -- If Bruce Bochy wishes to announce that his World Series Game 2 starter is Louis CK, you need to be prepared to nod, say, Yeah, good call. Well done. Brilliant stroke.

Because while we have always known that Bochy is one of the best pitching manipulators in managing history, its when his choices hit every note every time, game in and game out, that you see that his true ability is to see things mere mortals do not.

So it is that in the wake of the Giants 8-3 win over Detroit in Game 1 of the Series, the much-told redemptive story will be of Pablo Sandoval, the man who hit three home runs three different ways and re-defined the concept of the great bad-ball hitter.

But the back story will be of the other redeemed characters, Barry Zito and Tim Lincecum, who took the Detroit lineup and muzzled it. They didnt need to worry about the long shadow of Justin Verlander, because they knew that ultimately the Tigers are defined by their offense.

And their offense was stripped and readied for lacquering.

To be able to go up against Verlander, and give our team a chance to go up 1-0, and the fact that we won, its just kind of surreal, Zito said.

And then, including Lincecum, he expanded the definition of the term.

To have him in the bullpen, its just like ridiculous, Zito said. Its such a tool in our pocket that we can bust out at any time a guy who has made history. It was just really special personally too to watch Timmy carve them and just do what he does.

Between them, they lasted eight innings, allowed six hits and a single run, walking one and striking out eight. These were Verlander numbers, only Verlanders looked like they were backwards: 4 6 5 5 1 4 .

And while Sandoval, and to lesser extents Angel Pagan, Marco Scutaro and Buster Posey had their hands in most of the eight Giant runs, the eye-opener was that Zito and Lincecum seemed to merge as one, like some sort of heavy-lidded Transformer and redefine the series before it even got a chance to begin.

Zito gave up five of his six hits to the top four Tiger hitters -- Austin Jackson, Omar Infante, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. But only Cabreras in the sixth actually raised a welt, and the bottom five spots in the order did nothing whatsoever. In short, Zito carved Detroits lineup card in half.

Mostly he was just spotting his cutter and fastball in, Posey said. He just stayed with his plan, and moved the ball around. He got a couple of pitches up, but mostly he put it where he wanted it put.

And by the time Lincecum came in the sixth, the game was already boxed, taped and labeled. Still, he struck out five of the seven Tigers he faced despite his fastball capping at 92, and gave every indication that pitching out of the stretch and without a lot of time to fret about his work is actually becoming the cure to whats ailed him.

Mostly, Im just pitching, and not worrying about the mechanics and stuff, he said. I was just trying to get outs, really. We had a lead, and I know we came back from behind in the last two series, but we dont want to do that again. We want to get this over as quickly as possible.

That wont be as easy as Game 1 suggests, unless Bochy has also transmogrified Madison Bumgarner, the Game 2 starter. And bluff old seamhead that he is, he wont be banking on Sandoval hitting three more homers. This series got easier, but not easy. Not yet.

But a tone has been set, because the biggest pitching disappointments of 2010 and 2012 are only barely related to the fellows wearing their uniforms today. Barry Zito is one of the leading feel-good stories of the postseason, Tim Lincecum is beginning to reinvent himself two innings at a time, and the Giants are making a statement that looks an awful lot like a boot in the nethers.

Put another way, theyve given up four runs in four games and 22 in eight. One set of figures means one run a game, the other 2.75.

Either way, thats pitching, which is right in Bruce Bochys wheelhouse. That means well be writing about Louis CK gave up comedy to be a World Series hero, because at this point, any story line connected to San Franciscos pitching is completely believable.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for

Dodgers crush Cubs in Game 5 to reach 2017 World Series


Dodgers crush Cubs in Game 5 to reach 2017 World Series


CHICAGO -- Enrique Hernandez put a Hollywood ending on an LA story three decades in the making.

Fueled by Hernandez's home run trilogy, Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers are finally going to the World Series.

Hernandez homered three times and drove in seven runs, Kershaw breezed through six crisp innings and Los Angeles ended the Chicago Cubs' title defense with an 11-1 victory in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series on Thursday night.

"It feels good to hear World Series," Kershaw said. "It's been a long time coming for this team."

After years of playoff heartache, there was just no stopping this group of Dodgers. With Kershaw firing away at the top of a deep pitching staff and Justin Turner anchoring a tough lineup, one of baseball's most storied franchises captured its first pennant since Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda managed Los Angeles to its last championship in 1988.

The Dodgers will host the New York Yankees or Houston Astros in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night. The Yankees have a 3-2 lead in the ALCS heading into Game 6 at Houston on Friday night, so one more New York win would set up another chapter in an old October rivalry between the Yankees and Dodgers.

The Dodgers made the playoffs eight times in the previous 13 seasons and came up short each time, often with Kershaw shouldering much of the blame. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner took the loss when Los Angeles was eliminated by the Cubs in Game 6 of last year's NLCS at Wrigley Field.

He was just OK in his first two starts in this year's postseason, but Los Angeles' loaded lineup picked him up each time. Backed by Hernandez's powerful show in Chicago, Kershaw turned in an efficient three-hit performance with five strikeouts in his sixth career playoff win - matching Burt Hooton for the franchise record.

When Kenley Jansen retired Willson Contreras on a liner to shortstop for the final out, the party was on. The Dodgers poured out of the dugout and mobbed their dominant closer near the mound, and a small, but vocal group of Los Angeles fans gathered behind the visitor's dugout and chanted "Let's go Dodgers! Let's go Dodgers!"

Report: Giants interview Chili Davis about becoming new hitting coach


Report: Giants interview Chili Davis about becoming new hitting coach

Chili Davis spent the first seven years of his big league career with the Giants where he made two All-Star teams and hit 101 home runs. 

Fast forward 37 years from his debut in 1981, and Davis may now be the one teaching Giants how to hit balls over the wall in 2018. The Giants met with Davis Thursday about becoming the team's new hitting coach, according to The Mercury News

The only problem is, there is no open vacancy on the Giants' coaching staff. 

Current hitting coach Hensley Meulens is a candidate for the Tigers' head coaching vacancy, but reports surfaced Thursday that former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire will take that role. Meulens could become a candidate to manage another team or take a different spot on the Giants' staff. 

The Giants' offense sputtered in 2017. Overall, the offense ranked 23rd in batting average (.249), 29th in runs scored (639) and last in home runs (128). By comparison, the Pirates were the next worst team at hitting home runs in 2017 and still launched 23 more long balls than the Giants. 

Over his 19-year career, Davis hit 350 home runs. He has spent the last three years as the Red Sox's hitting instructor.