Spander: Giants need Lincecum to right ship

It’s his feet. Or his arm. Or his head. Or all of them together. Tim Lincecum is a mess — figuratively, that is.

Thus, the Giants are a mess: A team without a leader, without an anchor — dare we say, if any sort of championship is to be discussed, a team without a chance.

Tim is permitted to fail. He has been fantastic. Had been fantastic.

But when Tim fails, the Giants fail.

Baseball players know theirs is a sport of averages, sooner or later every .240 hitter will have a week where he goes 10-for-25 and every Cy Young Award winner will have a season — or part of one — where the game becomes as confusing as the Theory of Relativity.

You had to be there Monday at AT&T Park — and 42,465 were — watching, hoping, then doubting.

It wasn’t that the Giants couldn’t score off Ubaldo Jimenez of the Colorado Rockies. Nobody scores off Jimenez. He has an ERA someplace between unlikely and invisible.

It was that the Rockies, eventual 4-0 winners, got two off Lincecum in the second. Two runs off two walks, a stolen base and a single. The game had just started, yet the game had ended.

The crowd knew it. The Giants knew it.

Lincecum was a guarantee —dependable, consistent. No matter what else went wrong, Tim always was right. You follow him up with Matt Cain, Barry Zito and Jonathan Sanchez, get a key hit from Pablo Sandoval or Audrey Huff, and any dream was acceptable.

You could almost feel the deflation at AT&T. It was as if 40,000 plus were sighing, “Not again.” Yes, again, a fourth straight game in which Lincecum walked five — after only 152 walks combined in 2008 and 2009, seasons in which Tim earned Cys.
Seven walks in    his first five starts this year. Twenty-three in his next six starts. And only one victory.

Bruce Bochy, the Giants’ manager, was understandably careful in his analysis. No use alienating a kid with Lincecum’s track record.

“I thought it was a better outing,” was Bochy’s observation. “I think he’s getting close, getting better.”

Lincecum, however, sounded no less baffled than he had been throughout May.

“It’s kind of hard to find my way out of it,” he conceded. “Every time I try to take a little bit positive away from a game, not spend too much time on the negative. But there’s too much negative going on right now.

“I’ve had struggles before, but this is a little longer than I was hoping it would be. It’s just getting the timing with my feet, which would help everything. If I start my feet up it leads to my body. I said it’s kind of like a web.”

At the moment the Giants are caught in another sort of web. The San Diego Padres keep winning. The Los Angeles Dodgers never seem to lose. Now the Rockies virtually are even with San Francisco. For a team with thoughts of first place in the division, fourth place suddenly has imposed its presence.

“I’m not necessarily saying something is wrong,” was Lincecum’s view, “but I’ve got to fix it. I feel kind of out of sync.”

As long as he is, the supposedly good-pitching, little-hitting Giants will be very much out of luck.

Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on and E-mail him at

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