Ravens

Lincecum a Giants reliever for now against Reds

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Lincecum a Giants reliever for now against Reds

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Tim Lincecum is a reliever for the time being, two years after he pitched the Giants' Game 5 World Series clincher at Texas.

The struggling two-time NL Cy Young Award winner pitched two innings out of the bullpen for San Francisco in Game 2 of the NL division series against the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday night. His team trailed 1-0 after losing Saturday's opener 5-2.

Manager Bruce Bochy named right-hander Ryan Vogelsong his Game 3 starter for Tuesday in Cincinnati - and Bochy said he already picked a pitcher for a potential Game 4. He wouldn't say whether the Giants would turn to Matt Cain on three days' rest but said an announcement on the tentative plan could come by late Sunday.

``My reaction is I know what to prepare for now,'' said Lincecum, who went through pregame work with the relievers. ``I'll go in with that mindset today and whatever they want me to do. That's really all I can do. I don't make up the lineup. As much as I'd like to start, I don't have that say. He's the one making the decisions. That's what he's there for and I'm all for that.''

Lincecum is the franchise leader in wins for a single postseason with four from 2010.

He went 10-15 with a 5.18 ERA and 190 strikeouts in his sixth major league season. The losses were a career high.

Lincecum started Game 5 of the 2010 NL championship series then pitched in relief in Game 6 following a day off. Otherwise, the right-hander has rarely been a reliever - just once in April 2008. Bochy planned to use him in long relief if the situation called for him, preferably at the start of a fresh inning.

He pitched the sixth and seventh innings Sunday, allowing one hit and striking out two. He pumped his fist after striking out Ryan Hanigan to end the sixth.

``I'm just looking forward to whenever I get on the field, whether that's starting,'' Lincecum said. ``Nothing's saying I'm going to come out of the bullpen today. Just waiting for that chance. When it comes up I'll do my best.''

Bochy called it a tough decision, comparing this situation to leaving left-hander Barry Zito off the postseason roster for all three rounds during the 2010 run to the franchise's first championship since 1954.

Zito, meanwhile, is another option out of the bullpen if needed. San Francisco won Zito's final 11 starts.

The 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner with the Oakland Athletics had his best season since joining the Giants on a $126 million, seven-year contract before the 2007 season. Zito won his last five starts and seven decisions of the regular season since a loss Aug. 2 to the Mets.

``I wouldn't rule out anything,'' Bochy said of a Game 4 - if the series gets that far.

Lincecum was the first Giants starter since Livan Hernandez in 2001 to make at least 30 starts and have an ERA as high as 5.18. The 28-year-old pitcher also allowed a majors-high 28 runs in the first inning after giving up only eight all of last year.

While he was 1-6 with a 9.00 ERA in his first nine road starts, Lincecum was 5-0 with a 3.16 ERA over his final six away from AT&T Park.

Ultimately, Bochy decided based on the consistency of playoff first-timer Vogelsong (14-9, 3.37 ERA). He threw a bullpen session Saturday after being told the plan a couple of days ago.

``I talked to Timmy, Timmy knows,'' Bochy said. ``Timmy understands. It's fair to say it's been an up-and-down year for Timmy. It's been a fight for him all year.''

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Ravens kicker Justin Tucker named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week

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Ravens kicker Justin Tucker named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week

It's just Justin Tucker doing Justin Tucker things.

The Ravens' kicker has been named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week, the team announced Wednesday. This is the eighth time in his career he's been awarded the honor.

During the team's Week 3 27-14 win against the Denver Broncos, Tucker nailed not one, but two field goals from 52-yards out. He's made eight straight from beyond the 50.

Besides being the most accurate kicker in the history of the NFL, the 28-year-old has made 100 percent of the Ravens' extra point attempts. 

In 2016, JT became the ninth kicker in NFL history to kick three 50+ field goals in a single game and is the first kicker in NFL history to kick a field goal from 20-, 30-, 40-, 50- and 60-yards in a single game. 

On top of being a two-time Pro Bowler, he is the fastest kicker in NFL history to make 100 field goals and to reach the 500-point milestone. His longest field goal is 61-yards.

With the way things have been going for kickers in the NFL of late, Ravens fans can truly appreciate Tucker and his insane leg. 

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Bradley Beal and Otto Porter, Jr. offer advice for Kelly Oubre, Jr.

Bradley Beal and Otto Porter, Jr. offer advice for Kelly Oubre, Jr.

Wizards forward Kelly Oubre, Jr. doesn't need to look far to find a blueprint for success this season, the final year of his rookie scale contract. Both Bradley Beal and Otto Porter, Jr. were in the exact same situation, and while they were teammates with Oubre. Each of them knocked the test of a contract year out of the park.

Both Beal and Porter earned max deals from the Wizards after breakout seasons in contract years. Oubre, of course, would like to make a lot of money for himself. When asked to share advice for Oubre, Beal and Porter spoke their piece in different ways, but the message ultimately was much the same. 

Beal spoke in-depth and with his trademark even-keel approach. Porter was characteristically brief.

"Don't worry about it. It will take care of itself," Beal told NBC Sports Washington. "I'm not gonna sit here and say that it's easy to do because it's your brand, it's your life, it's your money... but I always say that with your money you are going to get rewarded and taken care of at the end of the day."

"Just continue to work hard and everything else will take care of itself," Porter said.

Beal sees some similarities in Oubre and Porter and not just because they play the same position as small forwards. Oubre, like Porter in the 2016-17 season, has to operate in a secondary role. Beal was a central focus of the offense in 2015-16, his contract year.

"It will be tough to do because you've gotta think [Oubre] is coming off the bench," Beal explained.

"I always use Otto as an example. Otto did everything he was supposed to do, everything coach asked him to, everything the organization asked him to and he got rewarded for it. It's plain and simple. His game is simple, honestly. I feel like Kelly can be the exact same way... It's just a matter of him staying level-headed and just not worrying about it too much."

If Oubre has any questions, Beal seems like the guy to go to. It's clear in talking about Oubre that Beal genuinely cares for him and his future.

Beal also cares for the future of the Wizards and would like Oubre to remain in Washington.

"Kelly is super-athletic. The sky is the ultimate limit for him," Beal said. "He is somebody who has star potential, somebody who we are crazy to think that other teams aren't going to try to go after him. We've gotta realize that."

Beal said he will do his part to help Oubre, if the fourth-year forward needs it. Having been there before, he feels like he can be a resource.

"He's like my little brother, so as much as I can I will try to keep him level-headed and try to not keep him focused on it. It's definitely easier said than done," Beal said.

Technically, Oubre could sign a new deal with the Wizards before the Oct. 15 deadline for rookie scale contract extensions, but those types of deals are relatively rare. Only a handful of players sign them each year. And for the Wizards, their salary situation beyond this season is bloated with $116.4 million committed to six players. That includes the raise John Wall will receive in the first year of his max contract extension.

Oubre also may be better served by waiting it out. Beal and Porter bet on themselves and won out. As long as Oubre can stay healthy and continue to develop this season, he should follow suit.

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