Tim Lincecum

Tim Lincecum saves it for utterly spent Giants


PHILADELPHIA – The Giants’ 9-6 victory over the Phillies lasted 14 innings, involved 16 pitchers throwing 507 times to the plate, took five hours and 46 minutes, included more cramping than a track meet for septuagenarians and it finally ended 7 minutes before 1 a.m. Wednesday morning at Citizens Bank Park when Tim Lincecum really and truly recorded his first career save.

“Eck!” shouted Giants coach Shawon Dunston, as Lincecum met with reporters.

“Not without the mustache,” said Lincecum, who is clean-shaven again but for the soul patch.

Rather than rehash every draining detail, which is conveniently available for your digestion in the Instant Replay, let’s jump straight into the zany aftermath.

This is what you didn’t know while you were watching:

–Giants manager Bruce Bochy and interim pitching coach Mark Gardner decided prior to the game to hold off having Lincecum throw his side session, just in case they came upon an emergency-glass situation. Makes sense. Their long guy all season, Yusmeiro Petit, was starting and George Kontos threw two of the bullpen’s six innings the previous night. That turned out to be a prescient thought.

–If the Giants hadn’t taken the lead on Brandon Crawford’s three-run double in the 14th, Lincecum wouldn’t have appeared in the bottom of the inning when Kontos ran out of gas with one out and two aboard.

“I was only going to use Lincecum in that situation, with a lead,” Bochy said.

–If the game had remained tied in the 14th, the next pitcher after Kontos would’ve been left fielder Tyler Colvin, Bochy said.

“I asked him if he’d pitched before and he said high school,” said Bochy, and as a side note, Brandon Belt would’ve been forever jealous if that would have happened.

–Lincecum is still good to go Friday against the Dodgers at AT&T Park. He went down to the bullpen in the 13th and ended up throwing 21 pitches. And yes, as he jogged out to the mound, he did think back to his relief appearance here in Game 6 of the 2010 NLCS.

“Just get outs,” he said, asked his mindset. “Really, just try to keep my teammate’s runs from scoring. … That just shows a lot from our guys. Putting in all that work that they did, you want to make sure it isn’t for nothing.”

Lincecum did allow one of his two inherited runners to score, on a ground out. He wasn’t happy about that. It was the only run Giants relievers have allowed in 15 innings over two games here.

–Yes, a pitcher has thrown a no-hitter and recorded a save in the same season. Sandy Koufax actually did it three times, in 1962, ’64 and ’65.

–How did Hector Sanchez, who caught all 248 pitches, look to Lincecum in the 14th?

“Like he was wearing it pretty good,” said Lincecum, “and I wasn’t helping the cause.”

Sanchez was cramping up between pitches. Afterward, he did shirtless jumping jacks on his way to the shower, and yelled out, “I’m ready to go tomorrow!” He was joking, of course.

–Kontos threw 40 pitches one night after he threw 21, and said he could give Bochy a couple batters if needed on Wednesday. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t joking.

“I pride myself on being able to do this kind of thing,” said Kontos, who began his pro career as a starter.

–The Giants’ nine pitchers matched the second most used in a game in all-time franchise history. They used 11 in an 11-inning loss in 2012 against the Diamondbacks at AT&T Park. Oddly enough, Kontos, the winning pitcher in both of these games in Philadelphia, took the loss that day.

–Bochy said he didn’t anticipate a roster move despite the heavy bullpen usage. Jeremy Affeldt threw 39 pitches and will be off-limits, and so will Kontos no matter what he says. But other guys went short enough to be available. Regardless, Wednesday night would be an excellent time for Madison Bumgarner to flirt with a complete game.

–Madison Bumgarner had a hitter’s shin guard strapped to his leg pretty much from the 11th inning on, which shouldn’t surprise you. He wasn’t used. Tim Hudson and Ryan Vogelsong were the only other Giants who didn’t get into the game.

–Buster Posey had four hits, finished a triple short of the cycle, matched his career high with three extra-base hits, improved to 10 for 23 on the trip (.435) and took the team lead with 53 RBIs. His tying, ninth-inning home run off Jonathan Papelbon was the first the Phillies’ closer had allowed all season. He had faced 148 batters before Posey took him deep.

“He’s a good player, and when those players get in that zone, they’re fun to watch,” Bochy said.

It wouldn’t have been as much fun for Posey if he had started behind the plate.

–Crawford, who earlier in the game committed his second error in two nights, had what might have ranked among his biggest hits ever against a right-hander. He was batting .207 against them entering the game but his three-run double off Jeff Manship snapped a tie in the 14th.

“They were getting a little tired,” said Crawford, asked if he had his legs under him. “I think everybody’s were. I tried to keep it simple. We only needed one run. I tried to stay compact, more than earlier in the game, and hit it on the barrel.”

–Bochy cancelled batting practice and players will arrive later than usual on Wednesday. Strength and conditioning coach Carl Kochan yelled to Sanchez to meet him at 2 p.m. to run stadium stairs. He was joking. Even if he were serious, Sanchez would not be running stadium stairs.

–Joe Panik’s ankle swelled up after he sprained it while trying to avoid pitcher Roberto Hernandez’s foot at first base in the first inning. He was replaced in the bottom of the second. He expects to be out two days or so, but the Giants aren’t discussing the disabled list.

–Because of Panik’s injury, Ehire Adrianza had seven at-bats in a game he didn’t start, which established an all-time Giants franchise record. The previous mark of six at-bats (also plate appearances) was done many times, last by Harry Spilman in 1986.

(Yuniesky Betancourt was the last big leaguer to come off the bench and get seven at-bats, for the Royals in 2012. The major league record is nine – and 10 plate appearances, too – by Tom Paciorek for the White Sox in 1984.)

–Finally, Panik’s parents earned the Croix de Broad Street. They were among the select few who stayed for the entire game.

“A couple friends, too,” he said. “They’re troopers.”

Them, and everyone else on the visiting side.

The Diamondbacks met with Johnny Cueto’s agent

AP Photo/David Goldman
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Diamondbacks spoke with Bryce Dixon, the agent of free agent starter Johnny Cueto. However, Rosenthal notes that Cueto’s price tag is expected to exceed the Diamondbacks’ comfort level.

Cueto, 29, is one of a handful of highly touted starting pitchers in this offseason’s free agent class. He is joined by David Price and Zack Greinke, among others. Jordan Zimmermann inked a deal in the neighborhood of $110 million over five years with the Tigers on Sunday morning, which will serve as a barometer for Cueto.

Cueto finished the 2015 regular season, between the Reds and the Royals, with a 3.44 ERA and a 176/46 K/BB ratio over 212 innings. He made 13 shaky starts with the Royals, but outside of a shellacking in Game 3 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays, pitched well in the post-season. Cueto pitched a complete game in Game 2 of the World Series against the Mets, helping put the Royals up two games to none at the time.

As a result of switching teams during the season, Cueto was not eligible to receive a $15.8 million qualifying offer. This means that Cueto, unlike Zimmermann for example, does not come attached with draft pick compensation.

Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski is reportedly trying to trade Hanley Ramirez

Hanley Ramirez
AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File

Nick Cafardo provides this interesting nugget in his Sunday notes column at the Boston Globe

Hanley Ramirez, 1B-DH, Red Sox — There’s now talk in the front office that Dave Dombrowski is trying to move Ramirez in a deal. The Mariners, Orioles, and Angels seem to be the targets, and all three make sense.

Cafardo notes that “there are huge hurdles to cross” before a trade could happen — like how much of Hanley’s remaining salary the Red Sox would have to eat and what positions the soon-to-be 32-year-old is able to play defensively at this point in his career.

Boston’s higher-ups have asked Ramirez to learn first base and drop 20 pounds this winter. Whatever team is looking to acquire him would probably have to be comfortable with him serving primarily as a designated hitter.

Hanley is owed $68.2 million over the next three seasons and he carries a $22 million vesting option for 2019. He batted just .249/.291/.426 in 105 games this past year.

Ben Zobrist is the “Mets’ No. 1 target”

Ben Zobrist
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Ben Zobrist posted a cool .809 OPS (120 OPS+) in 126 games this summer between Oakland and Kansas City while appearing defensively at second base, third base, and both corner outfield positions.

His steady bat and defensive versatility make him a fit for just about every club in Major League Baseball, and the defending National League champions are among the teams in hot pursuit …

It’s a little odd to see the rebuilding Braves listed there given that Zobrist is 34 years old, but Rosenthal says the interest stems from a “desire for him to serve as [a] model for younger players” as the club prepares to open a new ballpark in 2017. Wasn’t that supposed to be Nick Markakis‘ job?

Zobrist and his agent Alan Nero are believed to be seeking a four-year deal.

Tigers agree to deal with starter Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Hey, the hot stove is finally generating some real fire …

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Tigers have agreed to terms on a contract with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. It’s a five-year deal worth around $110 million, per Jon Morosi of FOX Sports.

This should have a domino effect on a loaded starting pitching market. David Price, Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, and Jeff Samardzija are just a few of the names still out there.

Zimmermann, 29, posted a 3.66 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 164/39 K/BB ratio in 201 2/3 innings this past season for the Nationals. He had a 2.66 ERA in 2014 and threw a no-hitter on the final day of the regular season.

Zimmermann’s free agency is tied to draft pick compensation because he rejected a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from Washington, but the Tigers finished with one of the 10-worst win-loss records in 2015 so their first-round pick in 2016 is protected. Detroit will give up its second-round pick instead.