Giants

Mike Krukow calls 2010 NLDS Game 1 Tim Lincecum's best ever for Giants

Mike Krukow calls 2010 NLDS Game 1 Tim Lincecum's best ever for Giants

Tim Lincecum's career with the Giants was that of a star shooting across the sky. It was memorable and breathtaking. It will stop you in your tracks when remembering but didn't last long enough.

There's always that want for more. 

The highs were incredibly high, though. Lincecum won back-to-back Cy Young Awards in 2008 and 2009. He then threw no-hitters in consecutive seasons against the San Diego Padres in 2013 and 2014, when his best days were behind him. For broadcaster Mike Krukow, the best version of Lincecum came on Oct. 7, 2010.

But to Krukow, Lincecum's greatness really began to click a month prior to that day, after an awful stretch of starts in August. 

"Right around the end of the month, right into his first start of September, he got it," Krukow said Wednesday on KNBR's "Murph & Mac Show." "It kicked right in. He found what he was doing wrong. And the month of September, every start he kept building and kept building." 

With his wonky delivery and slight frame, Lincecum's mechanics were all out of synch in August. He went 0-5 with a 7.82 ERA over five starts that month. And then September came. 

Lincecum struck out nine batters and allowed one earned run -- a solo home run -- over eight innings in a 2-1 win against the Colorado Rockies on Sept. 1. The right-hander rode that hot start and went 5-1 with a 1.94 ERA in six September starts. 

Once Game 1 of the NLDS against the Atlanta Braves arrived, then-manager Bruce Bochy handed the ball to Lincecum and his best self showed up on the bright stage in San Francisco. Lincecum threw a two-hit complete-game shutout while striking out 14 batters.

It was pure dominance. 

"It all got going in San Francisco when Lincecum got on the hill, and he shoves it. Strikes out 14," Krukow remembered. "It was one of the most dominating things that we'd ever seen. The entire month of September he kept building for it and to me, that was the icing on the cake.

"And it was also a message to the rest of the baseball world. 'Oh guess what, he's back.' And not only is he back, but he's better than ever."

Krukow believes the Giants fed off Lincecum's greatness, which led to their first World Series title in San Francisco. 

"I don't think he was ever better than he was that night, in that playoff game," Krukow said. "It set the tone and the mood in that clubhouse, and they carried it right there to a championship."

[RELATED: Kuiper reveals his most underrated Giant from title teams]

Lincecum threw the no-hitters and won his three rings. His absolute best, though, came that October night in front of a packed crowd of raucous Giants fans. 

The stars aligned in San Francisco for The Freak and fans never will forget that moment.

Giants scout compared Mark McGwire to better Dave Kingman as prospect

Giants scout compared Mark McGwire to better Dave Kingman as prospect

It was clear when watching Mark McGwire at USC that he was set for stardom in the big leagues. McGwire was an eighth-round pick in high school but then dominated for the Trojans. 

When Giants scout George Genovese saw McGwire play in March of 1984, he was blown away.

"This boy has outstanding power," Genovese wrote in his official scouting report. "... I feel he will be a good power hitter as he makes good contact and hits to all field with power. He is a tough out at the plate and it takes a good curve ball or excellent pitch to get him out." 

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As MLB.com's Matt Kelly notes, Genovese even saw a better version of a former No. 1 overall pick -- Dave Kingman -- in a young McGwire.

"As much power and better contact at the plate than Dave Kingman," Genovese wrote.

McGwire wound up hitting .387 with 32 home runs, 20 doubles and 80 RBI at USC in 1984. And the Giants had a chance to select McGwire with the No. 9 pick in the '84 MLB Draft. Instead, they took outfielder Alan Cockrell, who had nine at-bats in his MLB career and never played for San Francisco.

[RELATED: Why Baer believes 2020 MLB Draft requires 'better scouting']

The A's grabbed McGwire one pick later at No. 10 overall, and he became an instant star. The powerful first baseman hit a then-rookie record 49 homers for the A's in 1987 on his way to winning AL Rookie of the Year. 

McGwire finished his career with 583 long balls. Kingman, who started his career with the Giants and ended it with the A's, hit 442. And Cockrell had two career hits ... none went over the fence.

Giants coaches believe players can get ready for shortened MLB season

Giants coaches believe players can get ready for shortened MLB season

For a few weeks now players have been eyeing the first week of July, hopeful that Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association find a compromise that gets the game back on the field sometime around the time fireworks are scheduled to go off.

But every day that passes without a deal is one less day for the staff to potentially get players ready. At some point, that might lead to tension as teams look at the calendar, but for now the Giants still believe they have plenty of time to prepare for a shortened season. 

On last week's "Chalk Talk at Home," pitching coach Andrew Bailey and hitting coach Donnie Ecker said they're confident that Spring Training 2.0 can get their players ready in about three weeks. 

"I think it depends on where these guys are coming in," Bailey said. "I think we can do it in the three-week timespan. We may not be seeing a full workload, 100 pitches or whatever you see. I think that we still have to do some buildup there, but we can definitely get guys ready in that timeframe and be a little bit cautious with back-to-backs and different things and monitor (them). Ideally, the longer the better, for sure, on the pitching side of things."

Ecker said the hitting coaches -- himself, Justin Viele and Dustin Lind -- are looking at a similar timeframe, although they do have more wiggle room. 

"I think we need a lot less time from a physiological standpoint than pitchers do," he said. "The three week (schedule) is kind of a sweet spot for us to get enough live at-bats in."

While it takes some work to get your timing down, the Giants should have more than enough time to get their lineup ready. Buster Posey has often gone into a season with just a couple dozen at-bats under his belt, and the veteran-filled lineup is full of players who won't need much more than that if they're able to play games in their second spring. Pitching machines are so advanced these days that players are able to take unlimited hacks against machine-thrown breaking balls or 100 mph fastballs. Many of the team's veterans have posted clips on Instagram where they're hitting off machines at home. 

It's a bit more complicated for pitchers, but Bailey said he is starting to get calls from players who live in areas that have opened up to the point that you can throw live BP sessions and simulated games against hitters. The analytics staff put together a questionnaire that allows the Giants to track and log throwing programs on a daily basis. 

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Bailey is leaning on over-communicating, and the message from the staff has been to over-prepare if possible. Ideally, the Giants would like their pitchers to come in more stretched out than they normally would, giving them flexibility when games start. 

"We'll just get creative with our staff, our usage and make sure that their workloads are okay and healthy," Bailey said. "I think obviously winning is at the forefront of everybody's mind, but keeping our players healthy for 2020 is a priority of ours as well."

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