Tim Lincecum, Offense Give San Francisco Giants Hope for Second Half

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | The offense was clicking. Everybody was hitting. Tim Lincecum was so dominant, the other team couldn't touch him. The San Francisco Giants looked like a force to be reckoned with.

No, it wasn't 2010. This actually happened just a few days ago, believe it or not. The Giants were finally playing like a team interested in defending their World Series championship, and they showed fans just enough to tease them into believing this team might not be dead in the water just yet.

In taking three out of four games from the San Diego Padres, the Giants showed they still possess the ability to be a dangerous team. Pablo Sandoval looked like he was rounding back into form, shaking off the rust that had plagued him since coming off of the disabled list. He drove the ball all over the field and didn't look lost at the plate for the first time in a long time. Hunter Pence also hit the ball well and, like Sandoval, seemed to break free from the slump he'd been in for weeks at the plate. Kensuke Tanaka, fresh up from Fresno, provided a much-needed infusion of energy while also performing well on the field.

As a whole, the Giants looked like a re-energized bunch that somehow woke up and realized they were slipping out of the pennant race for good.

The real story, though, was Lincecum. In throwing the franchise's seventh no-hitter since they moved west, Lincecum gave everyone a glimpse of the pitcher he used to be, the one everyone feared we'd seen the last of after a few disappointing years. The Padres were over-matched and over-powered as Lincecum mowed hitters down one after another. His pitch-count soared, but Lincecum never weakened or wavered. It was the best he'd looked as a starting pitcher in years.

The no-hitter was almost enough on its own to get fans to believe the Giants weren't done in the NL West. It felt like the same kind of energy that pulsated through the team in 2010 and 2012, when it never felt like the Giants were out of a game. They looked like they were enjoying themselves, something that hasn't always been apparent this year, and guys were willing to lay out to preserve Lincecum's shot at history. For fans, it was arguably the most fun Giants game to watch this year.

But can the Giants sustain whatever momentum they gained in the Padres series? They were demolished in the last game before the All-Star break as Barry Zito suffered yet another road loss. The offense looked better but there are still big holes in the lineup, and the Giants are counting on the likes of the unproven Tanaka and retreads like Jeff Francoeur to fill them.

And there are major questions about the starting rotation: Can Lincecum continue his career renaissance? Is there something physically wrong with Matt Cain? Will Chad Gaudin's legal troubles prove to be a distraction? If the Giants want to get back into the division race, they'll have a lot to overcome.

But, for one weekend at least, the Giants looked like contenders again. And while it was against the equally woeful Padres, there were enough signs of life to provide just the slightest sliver of hope in what was quickly becoming a dreadful season.

Are the Giants down? Absolutely they are. But are they out? Not just yet.

Dave Tobener is a San Francisco Bay-Area based writer. His work has appeared on numerous sports websites, including Yahoo! Sports' Big League Stew. Follow him on Twitter @gggiants.

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