Sports: Down for the count

Pub date July 31, 2008
WriterMarke B.
SectionSF Blog

By A.J. Hayes

Our limited experience atop a pitching mound – and the corresponding disastrous results – precludes us from properly evaluating major league baseball pitch counts.

Tim Lincecum

But based on Saturday’s buzz kill of a finish at AT&T Park – Arizona’s 5-3 comeback win over San Francisco – one thing is abundantly clear. If the Giants are going to continue to keep a clicker on young star Tim Lincecum’s deliveries and routinely yank him from the game after a certain number of throws – the club is going to have to come up with a better mound contingency plan when he exits

Any more results like Saturday’s eighth inning implosion and the Giants risk a redux Chicago’s 1978 disco demolition night, sans burning wax platters of Donna Summer’s Greatest Hits.

As usual, Lincecum was rolling right along, striking out a career high 13 batters through seven innings, when he was abruptly yanked from the game. It wasn’t because Arizona had mounted a rally or Lincecum appeared to be gassed – he had just struck out the side in the seventh. No he was sent to soap up with Irish Spring because he had thrown 111 pitches and the team feared possible injury if he pitched any more.

Lincecum had thrown 121 pitchers in his previous game and San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy didn’t want to push the All-Star.

“The consensus was he was coming off a high pitch game. We’ve got to look after him a little bit here in the second half,” Bochy was quoted as saying.

The fact that he seemed to be throwing with just as much velocity as he had in the early innings or that Lincecum has never injured his throwing arm didn’t seem to figure into the decision. He was gone and that was that. Lincecum was yanked, and the beleagued reliever Tyler Walker was summoned.

What happened next was nearly sadly predictable as watching a gaggle of besodden twenty-something in tight fitting denim wobble down Union street on a given weekend night.