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."

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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.

Former Giant Randy Winn describes feeling of month-long hot streak

Former Giant Randy Winn describes feeling of month-long hot streak

A starting pitcher can take control of a game and singlehandedly lead his team to a win, but in general, it's hard for baseball players to will their team to victory day after day.

Starters pitch once every five days and position players know that even on a five-hit night, you're dependent on your own pitchers standing tall, and every time you reach base, you have to wait a couple innings for another chance to impact the game.

But every once in a while, a hitter gets so hot that it seems he's carrying his team for weeks at a time. The Giants last truly experienced this in 2018, when Brandon Crawford briefly thrust himself into the MVP race and earned an All-Star selection with an absurd stretch in May and June.

Buster Posey won the MVP award with his second half of 2012, and Melky Cabrera dragged the Giants to plenty of wins earlier that year before failing a PED test. In the first half of this century, Barry Bonds could carry the lineup for weeks, even seasons, at a time. 

Randy Winn experienced that after being traded to the Giants from the Mariners in 2005, and that year he had his own hot streak that to this day is one of the most impressive in franchise history. Over the final 30 games of that season, Winn had 54 hits in 123 at-bats, good for a .439 batting average. He hit 11 homers, 13 doubles and three triples, with a slugging percentage of .862 and OPS of 1.331. 

On this week's Giants Insider Podcast, Winn recalled what it felt like to get that hot for such a long period of time. 

"Nothing felt different -- everything just felt really, really easy and really slow," Winn said. "Whenever I felt like I wanted to take a pitch, the pitcher would throw a ball. If in my mind I was thinking, you know what, he might throw me a changeup, and he would throw me a changeup and it was very hittable. When anybody describes 'the zone' or being on fire, what they say is always the same: Everything was really slow, I was really relaxed, and my mind was really clear.

"When I think back on that time or other times when I was hitting really well, those are always the things that I remember. I didn't feel different, I wasn't really doing anything different. It just feels like you're in control of everything."

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Winn was having a solid season to that point, with a .273 average and .742 OPS. He opened September with eight hits in a three-game sweep of the Diamondbacks and never looked back, finishing the year with a .306 average. Winn had 17 multi-hit games in September, including three four-hit games. His 51 hits that month set a San Francisco Giants record that Cabrera tied in May of 2012. 

"It was a great situation for me," Winn said of the midseason trade that brought him to San Francisco. "Coming home, still live in the Bay Area, grew up in the Bay Area, my wife is from the Bay Area, our parents at that time lived in the Bay Area, so for us it was a homecoming and it was just great to be back home."

[RELATED: Why "Champ" Timmy is the best version of former Giants ace]

On the podcast, Winn also talks about how he would handle this layoff, what it was like playing college basketball with Steve Nash, what made Bonds and Albert Pujols so great, and much more. 

Giants fans vote 'Champ' Tim Lincecum as best version of former ace

lincecum-bullpen-2010playoffs-ap.jpg
AP

Giants fans vote 'Champ' Tim Lincecum as best version of former ace

You the fans have spoken.

We asked you to designate your favorite version of former Giants ace Tim Lincecum, and the social media response was overwhelming.

Lincecum was a part of all three World Series-winning teams in 2010, 2012, and 2014 in San Francisco.

During his first postseason run in 2010, Lincecum put together an impressive stretch of performances, solidifying himself as a franchise icon.

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He kicked off the 2010 MLB Playoffs by throwing a 119-pitch shutout with 14 strikeouts against the Atlanta Braves in Game 1, propping up an offense that only mustered one run of support to give the Giants a leg up in the five-game division series.

He followed that effort up by striking out eight Phillies in a Game 1 road win in Philadelphia, when Cody Ross’ two home runs led the Giants to a 4-3 win.

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Lincecum wrapped up the postseason by earning two World Series wins, including the series clincher in Game 5, striking out 10 Texas Rangers over eight innings as the Giants won their first Fall Classic since the franchise relocated to the west coast in 1958.

Although Lincecum earned plenty of nicknames during his legendary career in San Francisco, “Champ” definitely has a nice ring to it.