Lincecum wins as Giants say farewell
Right-hander caps season by striking out 13 Dodgers
SAN FRANCISCO -- Sunday's 3-1 victory over their archrivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers, made this season-ender perfect for the Giants.The graceful farewells to Peter Magowan (definitely) and shortstop Omar Vizquel (possibly) made it poignant. And Tim Lincecum's dynamic effort made it powerful. This wasn't so much a game as it was a series of vignettes, with various individuals playing out their unique dramas. They provided a fitting conclusion to the Giants' 50th anniversary celebration, as the past merged with the present to bring hope for the future. "Today was one of those great days to be a part of the Giants organization," Lincecum said. Lincecum provided the afternoon's biggest contributions. He matched his career high with 13 strikeouts to finish with 265 and become the first Giant to lead the Major Leagues in that category since Bill Voiselle had 161 in 1944.
"That's cool. That's all I can really say," said Lincecum, whose father, Chris, watched him pitch in person for the first time since his Major League debut on May 6, 2007. "It's a lot of hard work, trying to work on my pitches and throw them for strikes."For good measure, Lincecum's total was the highest in the Majors since Randy Johnson and Johan Santana accumulated 290 and 265, respectively, in 2004. His ninth double-digit strikeout performance of the season tied Jason Schmidt's San Francisco-era record set in 2004. Despite yielding a third-inning run, Lincecum (18-5) recorded his first nine outs on strikeouts, a feat which hadn't been accomplished since the New York Mets' Sid Fernandez did it on July 30, 1986, against the Chicago Cubs. He allowed that lone run and four hits to drop his ERA to 2.62. All this should only help his National League Cy Young Award candidacy. Voting results will be announced in mid-November. "Right now, all I can do is hope and wait," Lincecum said. Lincecum's teammates made him wait for a lead that would qualify him for the victory. It came in the seventh against Dodgers right-hander Chan Ho Park (4-4) after Travis Ishikawa singled with one out and was replaced by pinch-runner Emmanuel Burriss. Pinch-hitters Dave Roberts and Pablo Sandoval also singled, with Burriss scoring on the latter hit. Facing left-hander Joe Beimel, left-handed-batting Nate Schierholtz defied the percentages by lining a two-out single to score Roberts. "I knew [Beimel] was going to be around the plate," said Schierholtz, who connected with a fastball. "It was great to get this win for Timmy because we all know he deserves the Cy Young." Having received RBIs from rookies Sandoval and Schierholtz, the Giants turned to their veterans for their final run in the eighth inning. Facing Cory Wade, Rich Aurilia walked, Bengie Molina singled and Randy Winn drilled a run-scoring single to help seal the Giants' 72-90 record, a one-game improvement over last year. By then, the crowd had long been enraptured -- not just by Lincecum, but also by Vizquel, who left the game after taking his position before the sixth inning. Aware that they might be seeing the 41-year-old for the last time, the fans not only showered Vizquel with an ovation, but also coaxed a curtain call from him by chanting "Omar!"
"You never thought that you made an impact on so many people like that," an appreciative Vizquel said.Before the game, Vizquel tried to make an impact on his teammates, following manager Bruce Bochy's brief season-ending address with his own motivational talk. "It could be my last day here," Vizquel said. "I just wanted to address some items." Vizquel's message, said Lincecum, was for "everybody [to] work our butts off in the offseason. You try to take as much as you can from O.V. He's smart, he's been around the game a long time and he knows what he's talking about." Vizquel, who finished with a .222 average but hit .328 in his last 23 starts, doesn't believe he's done.
"There's no doubt in my mind that I can still play," he said.Kevin Frandsen, who ruptured his left Achilles tendon in late March, achieved a symbolic triumph by making his first appearance of the season. He grounded out as a pinch-hitter to end the eighth inning after receiving a noisy ovation from the audience, which was well aware of his saga. "That was one of the coolest things I ever, ever, ever experienced," Frandsen said. Although Vizquel's career could continue and Frandsen's surely will, Magowan knew he was watching his last game as the Giants' president and managing general partner, having announced his retirement in May effective Oct. 1. He sat in his usual seat adjacent to the Giants' dugout and acknowledged the crowd after a sixth-inning video tribute. Magowan also was honored in a postgame ceremony, during which he received a framed jersey signed by the Giants and the ball that Aurilia caught at first base for the final out. Told that he had displayed sound presence of mind, Aurilia said, "That's why you need guys like me around." Getting that final out wasn't easy. Brian Wilson surrendered Delwyn Young's double and pinch-hitter Russell Martin's infield single to open the ninth inning. At that point, Wilson was transformed. "I got this surge of energy to finish that game," he said, "because I know how important it was because it was Magowan's last game."
After third baseman Ryan Rohlinger dove to spear James Loney's liner, Wilson struck out Blake DeWitt and retired Angel Berroa on a grounder to third, ending the glorious day and perhaps generating enthusiasm for next year."This was a really happy day," Lincecum said.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.