Independence Day has always been my favorite holiday. I love every part of it. From neighborhood barbeques to the over-the-top firework displays. And most importantly, because of the well-deserved recognition that goes out to the deserving men and women serving in our Armed Forces.
And nowhere else does all of the best holiday components align more perfectly than at a baseball game. It’s only my second time going to a San Francisco Giants Fourth of July game, but something I most definitely need to experience many more times (the National Anthem performance was the best I’ve ever heard–performed by Navy Lt. Chris Zundel)!
Yesterday, Lincecum faced off against the Padres pitcher, Clayton Richard. And although it wasn’t a great performance by Lincecum, it should in no way influence or impact anyone’s opinions on whether or not he’s All-Star worthy; nor should he be attacked because of one particular bad outing, like he was last August, when he lost five straight starts. Following that month, whatever mental or physical difficulties Lincecum was going through, he overcame, pitching beautifully during the playoffs and ultimately during the World Series.
With not even four complete seasons under his belt, Lincecum’s already gaining acceptance as a seasoned veteran. Lincecum has won two Cy Young awards, a World Series title and has recently just surpassed 1000 strikeouts (also, more recently joined by another Giants All-Star, Matt Cain). If anyone has the mental resolute and maturity to handle a single bad-outing, it’s Lincecum.
I also don’t think it’s entirely fair to blame yesterday’s loss on him either; he’s one individual and the Giants lost as a team. The Giants players, as do all athletes, have a responsibility to alter and fine-tune their techniques in order to perfect their craft, while also demonstrating their exceptional athletic ability that gave them recognition in the first place. The Giants are definitely no exception in that regard either. When playing well and confidently, they’re all seriously worthy of All-Star recognition.
Lincecum’s record may have fallen to 6-7, thus far. But again, I’m going to reiterate, that other factors matter as well. Whenever Timmy pitches, chances are he’s facing the ace of an opposing team. Because of this, there’s also a lack of general run support because of high strikes and a low number of runs scored.
Yesterday, was no real exception either. Both Richard and Lincecum are outstanding pitchers, but high pitch counts led to early departures for both pitchers. For Timmy, he also wasn’t getting the offensive support he needed early on, as the Giants were hitting into consecutive double plays (which I also think weakened their overall confidence level).
However, I, and those in attendance, remained confident that the Giants could find a window for run production in the later innings (Because there was a reason our anthem last year was “Don’t Stop Believin’). And they got one, as late in the game, Pablo Sandoval, (recently off the DL list after suffering a broken wrist) hit AT&T Park’s 56th Splash Hit to right field!
Ultimately, though, the game ended with a Padres 6-3 win that was a hard-fought battle for both teams and a fun game all-around for all. And proof that Giants Torture was in full-swing, even on a holiday.
You gotta love baseball on the 4th of July!