Giants starter Tim Lincecum, dealing with a blister on the middle finger of his throwing hand, received the thumbs-up from manager Bruce Bochy. The right-hander missed two starts due to the condition, but felt good after throwing a simulated game to Brock Bond, Gary Brown, and Nick Noonan.
Via MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Lincecum explains his frustration:
“You kind of get into the rhythm of things when spring starts and then all of a sudden you run into something like this, especially as stupid as this can be, that keeps you from doing something that you should be doing all day and every day,” Lincecum said. “But to get back out there and know that it’s not going to be an issue from here on out — at least I hope it’s not — makes me feel good.”
After posting a collective 2.81 ERA between 2008-11, Lincecum drew concern after finishing the 2012 regular season with a 5.18 ERA. Part of that, as Doug Thorburn of Baseball Prospectus points out, was “rooted in conditioning; he lacked the athleticism necessary to consistently coordinate the 80-grade momentum that has become his trademark, while a lack of timing sapped the efficiency of his torque”. The Giants moved their former ace to the bullpen for the post-season; he made just one start in Game Four of the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals. Lincecum his hoping to put his 2012 season behind him and move on, returning as one of the top pitchers in baseball.
Facing an elimination number of one, the Astros staved off elimination in the AL West by beating the Diamondbacks on Friday night by a 6-1 margin. The Rangers suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Angels on Saturday afternoon, which temporarily put the Astros’ fate in their own hands.
Colby Rasmus hit a pair of solo homers and Jose Altuve added a solo shot of his own. Starter Collin McHugh tossed seven innings of one-run ball, limiting the Diamondbacks to six hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Reliever Will Harris allowed a solo home run to Paul Goldschmidt in the eighth, but Luke Gregerson closed out the game with a scoreless ninth.
The Astros trail the Rangers by one game in the AL West and lead the Angels by one game for the second AL Wild Card slot. The Rangers can clinch the AL West on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Astros loss. The Astros can clinch the second AL Wild Card on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Angels loss.
The Yankees lost both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Orioles and lead the Astros by only one game for the first AL Wild Card slot.
If the Astros win and the Rangers lose on Sunday, they will play an AL West tiebreaker in Texas. The winner will win the second AL Wild Card if the Yankees win on Sunday, or the first AL Wild Card if the Yankees lose on Sunday.
If the Astros lose and the Angels win on Sunday, the two teams will be tied for the second AL Wild Card. They would play a tiebreaker in Houston, and the winner would play the Yankees in New York in the Wild Card game.
Giants second baseman Kelby Tomlinson looked more like Ladainian Tomlinson the way he was running during Saturday afternoon’s game against the Rockies. In the first inning with one out against starter Chris Rusin, Tomlinson hit a fly ball into the right-center field gap at AT&T Park, a great place to go if you’re in the mood for an inside-the-park home run.
Neither Carlos Gonzalez nor Chris Dickerson could corral the ball before it rolled all the way to the 421-foot marker at the fence. Tomlinson motored around the bases, but Gonzalez made a strong throw into cut-off man D.J. LeMahieu, and LeMahieu made a great throw in to catcher Tom Murphy, but Tomlinson slid in safely just ahead of the tag.
It was an exciting play and the hit proved important as the Giants eked out a 3-2 win against the Rockies.