Lincecum dazzles against Dodgers in last start
SAN FRANCISCO (AP)—As far as a way to end a disappointing year, the San Francisco Giants couldn’t have asked for much more fun against the rival and division champion Dodgers.
All-Star Tim Lincecum won his 18th game and wound up the majors’ strikeout leader. Shortstop Omar Vizquel went out victorious with the fans on their feet in what might have been his last game for the Giants. Retiring owner Peter Magowan was celebrated on a day that became much more special with the positive result.
“It’s hard to have a better game than how that went,” manager Bruce Bochy said.
Lincecum matched his career high with 13 strikeouts to finish with a majors-best 265, and gave Cy Young Award voters an impressive final start to think about in San Francisco’s 3-1 victory over Los Angeles on Sunday.
The Dodgers concluded their division championship season at 84-78 and will face the NL Central champion Chicago Cubs starting Wednesday at Wrigley Field.
“The weather is so unpredictable in Chicago this time of the year that you just can’t plan for things,” Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. “It’s going to come down to good pitching.”
Andre Ethier doubled in the game’s first run in the third for the Dodgers, who were managed by infielder Nomar Garciaparra, as is custom procedure for Torre on the season’s last day. Garciaparra rested slugger Manny Ramirez and second baseman Jeff Kent.
Pinch-hitter Pablo Sandoval’s RBI single in the seventh tied the game. Dave Roberts, aboard after a pinch-hit single, then scored the go-ahead run on Nate Schierholtz‘z single. Randy Winn added an RBI single in the eighth.
“I feel good about where this team is heading into the playoffs,” Garciaparra said. “We have had to do so much just to get to this point. Clinching early allowed us to make sure everybody stayed healthy and to get the pitchers their work.”
Lincecum (18-5), who also struck out 13 on July 26 against Arizona, recorded strikeouts for the first nine outs of the game—the first time that’s happened since the Mets’ Sid Fernandez did so on July 30, 1986, against the Chicago Cubs, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Lincecum became the first pitcher in franchise history to lead the majors in strikeouts for a single season, saying: “Ahh, really? That’s cool.” The All-Star fanned 10 or more batters for the 11th time in his career and ninth time this year. That tied the San Francisco record he now shares with Jason Schmidt, who had nine games with 10 or more Ks in 2004.
Lincecum allowed four hits in seven innings and finished with a 2.62 ERA in 33 starts and 34 appearances spanning 227 innings. He was coming off a rare loss in his previous outing and told the Giants he wanted to pitch one more time. He fanned five of the first six batters.
“Right now all I can do is hope and wait,” Lincecum said of the Cy Young. “I’m trying not to put too much stress on it.”
Rafael Furcal, activated from the 60-day disabled list Wednesday night after being sidelined since May 6 with back problems, was a late lineup scratch.
“I have confidence with Furcal,” Torre said. “We’ll monitor him the next couple of days. It seemed like he was getting his timing back. It’s possible he’ll start the first game.”
Vizquel played what was probably the 41-year-old’s final game in San Francisco. The club is in a youth movement and Vizquel understands the situation, though he would like to return even in a limited role.
Vizquel, who singled in the bottom of the fifth, took his defensive spot in the top of the sixth only to be lifted for Ivan Ochoa. Vizquel received a long standing ovation and he waved, tipped his cap and blew kisses to the appreciative crowd of 39,167 that began chanting “Omar! Omar!” He briefly emerged from the dugout for the curtain call.
“The moment itself is really hard to swallow,” said Vizquel, whose 2,654 games at shortstop are a major league record. “You get goosebumps, you don’t know how to react.”
The Giants (72-90), who haven’t reached the playoffs since 2003, finished with one more win than last season.
San Francisco’s Kevin Frandsen, out all season recovering from a ruptured Achilles’ tendon, made his season debut with a pinch-hit groundout in the eighth — receiving roars from the fans. Magowan, who will retire this coming week as managing partner after 16 years running the franchise, had hoped to see Frandsen get in the game. The infielder grew up in nearby San Jose and is a lifelong Giants fan.
Brian Wilson finished for his 41st save in 47 chances despite allowing hits to the first two batters.
Torre planned to give the team a break Monday and not hold a workout until Tuesday in Chicago. … Magowan received an ovation in the middle of the sixth and he stood from his front-row seat by the Giants’ dugout and tipped his cap after a tribute was shown on the main center-field scoreboard. … The Giants missed 3 million in attendance for the first time in the 9-year history of their waterfront ballpark (2,863,847). … Lincecum’s father, Chris, saw him pitch live for the first time since the right-hander’s major league debut last year.