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SAN FRANCISCO -- Tim Lincecum didn't realize that he had recorded his 200th strikeout of the season Friday night until Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti informed him of that fact.
Trouble was, catcher Bengie Molina didn't realize it, either. That forced Righetti to scramble for a souvenir.
After Lincecum fanned Nick Hundley for No. 200 to end the seventh inning, Molina casually flipped the ball to a fan sitting behind the Giants' dugout, as players frequently do. This alarmed Righetti, who figured that Lincecum should have the ball as a memento.
"So I grabbed the ball from the woman who was sitting there and said, 'I'll get you another one,'" Righetti said Saturday.
Many purists believe that groundouts or flyouts early in the count are preferable to strikeouts, which can inflate a hurler's pitch count and prompt his removal from a game earlier than necessary. But strikeouts do have value, Righetti insisted.
"If the ball's not put in play, there's less chance of the other team scoring. So they are important," Righetti said. "People will want to say they're not, but they are."
Righetti admitted that he sometimes grows concerned when AT&T Park fans begin rooting for a strikeout, which is especially common when Lincecum performs.
"The excitement level goes up so incredibly," Righetti said. "You start going for [the strikeout], and that's when you come out of your delivery."
Obviously, Lincecum has managed to avoid this shortcoming.