Velocity down, anxiety up. The mysterious decline of Tim Lincecum takes center stage again tonight at AT&T Park when the Giants’ struggling ace faces the Colorado Rockies.
The burning question among San Francisco baseball fans: Where did the Freak’s mojo go? The two-time Cy Young Award winner has lost his last five starts while being tagged for five homers and 22 earned runs. Tim’s command and confidence are clearly shaken. His once-blazing fastball now clocks in at an all-too-hittable 90 mph, down every season from his rookie-year average of 95 mph.
Dad and mentor Chris Lincecum said last week he is glad his son recently resumed long tossing to strengthen his arm. Too bad pitching coach Dave Righetti doesn’t recommend the long toss to his staff. Besides, how much can Lincecum truly benefit from those twice-weekly throwing sessions this late in the season anyway? There are more than a few whispers that Tim hasn’t worked hard enough. But changing his between-starts routine and tinkering with his mechanics, as Lincecum did a few weeks ago may just make matters worse.
The best thing Lincecum can do is lock himself in a room filled with videos and watch his best performances of ’08 and ’09. He can also break out game tapes from April when he began the season 4-0 with a 1.00 ERA and compare them to his ugly August outings. The slightest adjustment in release point or leg drive might just do the trick. If not, the Freak will be looking for a new nickname and the Giants will likely be on the outside, looking in come playoff time.
The power-starved A’s, who entered Tuesday having hit the fewest home runs (82) in baseball, can only cringe when watching the success of two of their former top-hitting prospects: Carlos Gonzalez and Carlos Peña.
Gonzalez, 24, who was sent to Colorado in 2008 in the ill-fated Matt Holliday trade, leads the Rockies in homers (29), RBIs (89) and batting average (.326), in addition to being an excellent outfielder.
Peña, 32, was dealt to the Tigers in 2002 for three players, only one of whom is still in the majors, left-hander Ted Lilly. Peña has not only become a Gold Glove winning first baseman, since joining the Tampa Bay Rays four years ago he has averaged 35 homers and 100 RBIs per season.
You think preseason NFL games are boring? Wait till you check out Saturday’s local college football openers. Bay Area teams kick off a new season with a trio of monumental mismatches. Cal hosts UC Davis, Stanford is home to Sacramento State and San Jose State plays at Alabama.
Nevada oddsmakers are wisely offering no line on the Bears and Cardinal games. The Spartans were 39-point underdogs against the top-ranked Crimson Tide before Heisman Trophy winning running back Mark Ingram was ruled out of the game after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery Tuesday. That’s your cue, San Jose State fans. Put down $100 bucks, watch your team lose 50-14 and you can still smile. What a country.
KGO (810 AM) Sports Director Rich Walcoff can be heard weekdays from 5 to 9 a.m. on the KGO morning news. He can be reached at RichWalcoff@gmail.com.