Tim Lincecum gave up five runs in three innings of work against the Oakland Athletics this afternoon, raising his spring ERA to 10.97 and his WHIP to 2.25. Coming off a season in which he finished with a 5.18 ERA in 33 starts, Lincecum’s performance thus far has not given anybody reason for optimism.
CSN Bay Area’s Andrew Baggarly reports that neither Lincecum nor his manager are particularly worried, even with a possibility the Giants right-hander joins his team after the regular season begins:
Bochy said Lincecum was “just off today” but didn’t express much outward concern, saying he was encouraged by the right-hander’s previous two outings.
I asked Bochy: Is there a good chance Lincecum could stay back when camp breaks and face minor leaguers rather than pitch against the A’s on Thursday at China Basin?
“We haven’t talked about that,” Bochy said. “Have him throw a bullpen and go back out there. That’s what you do. Today, he was out of sync. It was obvious from the start.”
Fortunately for the Giants, they have two of the better starters in the game in Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner, so they won’t be set too far behind by Lincecum’s lagging performance. This is an important season for Lincecum as he is eligible for free agency after the season.
The Yankees and Astros are set for Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, and neither team will hold back as they seek a World Series berth. The Astros are prepared to back starter Charlie Morton with any able-bodied pitcher in their ranks — including Justin Verlander, though A.J. Hinch said it would be a “dream scenario” to get anything more from his ace — while the Yankees are prepared to utilize all but a few of their arms. One pitcher you won’t see? Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who last took the hill for the Yankees during their Game 5 shutout on Wednesday.
Tanaka expended 103 pitches over seven scoreless innings in his last start, fending off the Astros with three hits, a walk and eight strikeouts. He hasn’t pitched on fewer than three days of rest all year, and even with a do-or-die scenario facing the Yankees on Saturday night, manager Joe Girardi doesn’t want to compromise his starter’s ability to stay rested and ready for the World Series.
Girardi will also play it safe with fellow right-hander Sonny Gray, who dominated in a five-inning performance in Game 4. All other pitchers should be available and ready to go, though the club is hoping for a lengthy outing from veteran starter CC Sabathia. Sabathia is no stranger to the postseason: over eight separate playoff runs, he touts one championship title and a collective 4.24 ERA in 123 innings. He held the Astros scoreless in his Game 3 start, blanking them over six innings on three hits, four walks and five strikeouts for an eventual 8-1 win.
Even without Tanaka or Gray likely to take the mound for Game 7, the Yankees will enter the series finale with history on their side. Per MLB.com, they have a 4-3 road record in Game 7s and are 6-7 in all 13 Game 7 finales to date. The Astros, on the other hand, dropped their first and only Game 7 clincher back in 2004, when the Cardinals capped the NLCS with a 5-2 win in St. Louis. The teams are scheduled to face off for the first-ever Game 7 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday at 8:00 PM ET.