2010, baseball’s year of the pitcher, is now at an end.
Last night, a few hours before taking the mound for his Game 5 World Series start against the Texas Rangers, San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum strolled into the bowels of the stadium, sporting his signature long-hair and bow-tie, while rolling a black suitcase. He also donned a blue dress shirt and black sport coat; even without the top hat, Lincecum looked like some kind of vaudeville magician.
He’d soon have the Rangers under his spell, and pulled a World Series title from under his sleeve.
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Lincecum, the two-time Cy Young award winner who still looks like he’s barely past puberty, matched his formidable opponent, post-season wunderkind Cliff Lee, pitch-for-pitch, only yielding three hits over eight innings to give the Giants a 3-1 road win over the Rangers; with the victory, the franchise won its first World Series title in 56 years, and the first since the Giants left New York for San Francisco in 1957. After San Francisco’s furry closer Brian Wilson struck out Nelson Cruz of Texas to clinch it, Lincecum and his manager, Bruce Bochy, embraced on the infield grass. They looked like a happy father-son combo. Perhaps dad will let Timmy take out the car tonight.
While in the Bay Area, the Giants couldn’t win a title with legends like Wllie Mays, Willie McCovey, and Barry Bonds wearing black and orange. But they finally ended their championship drought with four home-grown pitchers – Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, and Madison Bumgarner – who each turned in sterling efforts during the post-season. And it didn’t hurt that San Francisco had the new Mr. October – Mr. November, actually – in the dugout as well.
When he was a 21-year-old, baby-faced shortstop with the Florida Marlins in 1997, Edgar Renteria ended a World Series with a base hit in the 11th inning of Game 7, against the Cleveland Indians. Since then, the Colombian shortstop has bounced around to six different teams. Now, Renteria has bookended his late-90s heroics with an unforgettable World Series. In Game 2, Renteria snapped a scoreless tie with a solo home run, and later drove in two more runs during a 9-0 Giants rout. Last night, his stunning two-out, three-run blast in the seventh broke another 0-0 game, and gave Lincecum all the offense he needed.
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It’s only fitting that the 2010 season ended in a pitcher’s duel between two of the best hurlers in the game. This was, in fact, the year of the pitcher, as baseball saw four no-hitters, two perfect games, and that unofficial perfect game thrown by Detroit’s Armando Galarraga, who was robbed by the ump. Hitting metrics like home runs, and runs scored, were down across the board. Sparkling pitching, however, doesn’t draw ratings. On Sunday night, for instance, more viewers tuned into a pedestrian regular season NFL game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and New Orleans Saints than they did for Game 4 of this World Series. And last night, a chunk of fans were probably more interested in watching Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts, who were playing on Monday Night Football, than Lincecum v Lee.
That’s too bad. They missed out on some magic.