The Giants should have Tim Lincecum throw out the ceremonial first pitch Tuesday afternoon before Game 3 of the National League Championship Series. It looks like the only chance for Lincecum to stand on the mound in the post season. The disappearance of Timmy, who would still be a Giants fan favorite even if he gave up all four Game Two Cardinal home runs by himself, is starting to get darned-right strange. What are manager Bruce Bochy and pitching coach Dave Righetti seeing in his practice bullpen sessions. Is every pitch five feet over the catcher’s glove? Is every serving landing with a thud five feet in front of home plate? Has Buster Posey, who is catching every inning, declared he is not going to catch Lincecum? Doubt that’s it, though we all remember those stories about Hector Sanchez being his favorite catcher, and nobody ever nailed down whether there was anything to any of that.
Lincecum’s whereabouts have become an issue as reliever Hunter Strickland continues to put fans in the bleachers in grave danger by allowing opposing batters to smack missiles right at them. Strickland surrendered two bombs by Bryce Harper that the tape measure wasn’t long enough to measure, and a third, more moderate clout in the NLDS. The UFOs launched by the left-handed Harper off high-heat fastballs convinced the Giants Faithful, as expressed in “What’s Bochy Thinking!” phone calls to sports talk shows, that having Strickland go against power lefties was unacceptable. Bochy, who apparently hasn’t been listening, sent his flame-thrower out there again in the eighth in Game Two to face left-handed Matt Adams with the score tied 3-3. This is the same Adams whose three-run rocket off Clayton Kershaw is the reason the Dodgers got the rest of October off.
Strickland messed around with a few breaking balls which Adams shrugged at while keeping a straight face, knowing that the novice big leaguer couldn’t resist coming in with 97 mph gas. The ball left the yard before Giants fans could say, “Where’s Timmy?” No one was surprised at the result except maybe Bochy and Righetti. Some Giants relievers like Brian Wilson and Sergio Romo have had a special musical selection to greet them when they entered a game. Perhaps Strickland’s should by “Bye Bye Baby.” Now that might be categorized as a cheap shot at the young man who is doing the best he can. Good point. Two years from now, when the Giants return to the post season after sitting out another odd-numbered year, Strickland could well be the club’s overpowering shut-down closer who’ll enter the game to the tune of “Classical Gas.”
But for now, how about giving us a taste of Timmy? One of those street entrepreneurs who sets up shop outside AT&T Park could make enough money to buy a luxury suite for the World Series by making a “Let Timmy Pitch” T-shirt. Couldn’t make enough of them. C’mon Boch, give No. 55 the ball.
No need to panic: No, this is not the 2,157th Joe Panik pun. The Cards won Game Two with four home runs. Sloppy pitching by the Giants is to blame. The Cardinals certainly might win the series, but they are not going to bash their way to the title. It would have been scarier for the Giants had the Cardinals knocked Giants pitching around for 12 or 14 hits, with three or four doubles or triples. Plus, AT&T, where the next three games will be played, will be a tough place to go deep. Speaking of runs, the Giants will need a double or triple or two in the right situation if they are to win. This reliance on wild pitches, and weak RBI ground outs for most of their offensive output is not likely to be enough over a seven-game series.
Pipe down, Peavy: Am I the only one not finding anything fun or cute from Giants starter Jake Peavy’s constant yelling and talking to himself. I’m finding the act tiresome. He’s not Mark “The Bird” Fidrych, theTigers pitcher from 1976-80 who talked to the baseball. Fidrych’s antics displayed an innocence, and it was hard to not to laugh while watching him carry out his end of the conversation. Fidrych was warm and fuzzy. Peavy is like a Tea Party member at an Obama health-care debate.
Sad injury: The loss of catcher Yadier Molina is a deafening blow to the Cardinals. Giants fans shouldn’t take any satisfaction if Molina can’t play. He is the heart of the Cardinal team, and baseball fans at AT&T could miss out on seeing one of the game’s finest perform. My favorite Molina moment came during the NLDS against the Dodgers. Molina got into it with the Dodgers Adrian Gonzalez, which resulted in the benches emptying for a non-violent waltz on the infield. A little later, Yasiel Puig made a gesture at Molina after striking out, in an attempt to reignite the bad will. The veteran Molina dismissed the young upstart with a wave of his hand, and the humbled Puig walked off obediently to the dugout.
Not fair: He didn’t seem to get much publicity on the post-game coverage, but the highlight of the game might have been Cardinal reliever Pat Neshek’s bullying of Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence in the eighth. Neshek has what might be the most jerky, quick, odd motion of any pitcher, looking like a submarine thrower and ending up as a sidearmer. The Giants sluggers were lost. Neshek went 7-2 with a 1.87 ERA this year. He made the All Star team but was the losing pitcher, so it’s his fault the Cards or Giants won’t have home-field advantage in the World Series. Watching Neshek facing Pence was a weird scene. Neshek’s jumpy delivery and Pence’s perpetual motion batting stance made it look like two guys going one-on-one after downing 10 cups of coffee.