The first-place Giants? Yes, that’s what they were in the wake of Tim Lincecum’s most exhilarating outing of the season on Wednesday. Tied with L.A. after giving up ZERO runs in a three-game sweep, having been five games back 11 days previous. Pretty amazing.
The big question in the wake of Wednesday’s game, of course, was this: Is Timmy back? He sure has looked sharp since wiggling out of that first-inning jam in Oakland on June 22, right?
Let’s break down the possible answers, depending on which camp appeals to your way of thinking.
Glass half-full: Yeah, he’s back. Hell yeah, he’s back! He’s way too talented to be bad for a whole half, much less a year. This is the kind of start-to-finish outing he needed to restore his confidence and kick-start a classic Lincecum roll.
Glass half-empty: Way too early to say he’s back. He shut down the A’s and Dodgers, two teams with major offensive issues. Let’s not go overboard.
I’m with the half-full crowd for the most part, but it would be nice to see him handle a team with some serious sticks. His next scheduled start is against the Washington Nationals on the road Tuesday. Kick some ass in the nation’s capital and my glass will be filled to the rim.
A couple of other Giants items to chew on:
1. Buster Posey played first base with Lincecum on the bump, Hector Sanchez catching. Sanchez, already Barry Zito’s “personal catcher,” also caught Lincecum in Oakland. Manager Bruce Bochy says there’s no controversy brewing there, insisting Posey will do the majority of the catching, but it’s something to keep an eye on. And as a fairly significant aside: The more Posey plays first base, the more I think about the possibility of Brandon Belt being part of a deadline deal. They wouldn’t dare, would they?
2. The Dodgers are done. I said it after Monday’s game, I said it again Tuesday, and I’ll say it again now. D-O-N-E. And now Andre Ethier is hurt, too — he was the only guy in that weak lineup who made you sweat. Even when they get Matt Kemp back, they’ll be a lineup loaded with journeyman-types, and while they probably have the cash to take on a big-money player with a deadline deal, do they have the talent to offer to get one? Scouts tell me no.
The NL West is still a two-horse race, but I say the other horse is Arizona.
SCRAPPY A’S STAY COMPETITIVE:
The A’s were held to two hits in a victory this week, providing a nice little snapshot of the season. You’ve gotta hand it to this team — it finds a way to win a lot of games that teams with less fight in them would lose.
Great pitching helps, too, and they’ve got quite a bit of it. It sometimes seems like they’ve got a factory somewhere spitting out A.J. Griffins on an assembly line.
Leadership also is key, and Brandon Inge and Jonny Gomes bring something hard to quantify. Neither guy is a star, and Inge has gone particularly cold as of late, but they both have a loose but intense approach to the game that relaxes and resonates with a mostly young club.
Yoenis Cespedes hit one of the homers, by the way, and if this kid isn’t in the All-Star Home Run Derby, someone needs to do time behind bars. The game is a marketing vehicle; market this kid as one of your brightest young stars, include Bryce Harper and Mike Trout somehow, someway, or you’re missing the boat.
SPEED ROUND: Nice to see Jerry West front and center for the Warriors in the leadup to the NBA Draft, by the way. Does that mean he’s going to be calling the shots for a while, with agent-turned-GM Bob Myers more or less serving as an apprentice to learn from the master? Makes a ton of sense, doesn’t it? ... Lemme get this straight: Goose Gossage, in one breath, says Roger Clemens doesn’t deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. In the next, he says he’d have probably ’roided up himself were PEDs more prevalent in his prime. Flip a coin, meat. Can’t have it both ways. ... And finally, can we please be done with mock drafts? They are absolutely useless. Write a story, fellas. The mock draft is the sports fan’s empty calories. It’s conjecture based on lies; West himself called the draft season the lying season, in so many words. I’d rather see a breakdown of each top prospect’s game. Stop taking the lazy
Mychael Urban, a frequent co-host of The Wheelhouse (10 a.m.-2 p.m.) on 95.7 FM The Game, can be followed on Twitter @BigUrbSports. His website is UrbsUnchained.com.