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Lincecum ready to deliver San Fran a title

Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor

Rounding Third Logo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Tim Lincecum has a chance to do something on Monday that Barry Bonds could never do. And that is deliver the Giants their first World Series title since moving to San Francisco back in 1958.

Lincecum, the 10th overall pick in the 2006 draft, supplanted Bonds as the face of the Giants franchise shortly after the home run king left the Bay Area following the 2007 season.

It's hard to argue that the Bonds years were probably the best in the history of the San Francisco Giants. But a victory tonight by Lincecum, and that era which we now know was probably tainted anyway, becomes a footnote.

As many individual awards as Bonds picked up in his 15 years with the Giants, he could never bring home the biggest prize of them all. Five NL MVP Awards are nice, but let's be honest, World Series trophies are the only ones that matter in this sport.


Only five teams have come back from 3-1 deficits to win a seven-game World Series, and 24 of the previous 44 such series ended in Game 5.
San Francisco has had three other chances to lock down a title, but fell short each time, including its most recent trip in 2002 when Bonds and company lost to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in seven games.

The difference between the Bonds-led Giants eight years ago and this squad is simple. That team was carried by one man, this unit is just that, a unit. And that is the biggest reason that the Giants are on the verge of their first title since 1954.

Well, that and the fact that they have pitched about as well as you possibly can in these playoffs, especially here in the World Series, where on Sunday rookie Madison Bumgarner tossed eight scoreless innings, as the Giants shut out the Rangers for the second time in this Fall Classic.

History is strongly on the side of the Giants, as only five teams have come back from 3-1 deficits to win a seven-game World Series, and 24 of the previous 44 such series ended in Game 5. With Lincecum going tonight, I expect the Giants to become team No. 25.

Lincecum has had a knack at winning big games. He set the tone for the Giants with a remarkable two-hit, 14 strikeout shutout over Atlanta to open the playoffs, then beat Roy Halladay in Game 1 of the NLCS, before coming out with a win over the thought-to-be unbeatable Cliff Lee in the first game of the World Series.

"The experience of being there is the big help," Lincecum said. "Going through the lineup again knowing that you're pitching in another World Series game just eases the tension."

Lincecum is 3-1 this postseason with a 2.79 ERA. He's also averaging 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings in the playoffs.

"Timmy's a big-game pitcher," Giants first baseman Travis Ishikawa said. "He wouldn't be in this situation if he wasn't. We've got all the confidence in the world in him. They've got their stud over there going, too, so it's going to be a good game. There's nothing guaranteed. But we definitely feel confident with Timmy on the mound."

Of course, it won't be easy. Standing in the Giants' way of their sixth overall championship is perhaps the best postseason pitcher of this era in Lee.

Lee, who will be making his first home start this postseason, had been 7-0 with a 1.26 ERA for his career in the playoffs heading into Game 1 last Wednesday, but was roughed up for seven runs (six earned) and eight hits in just 4 2/3 innings.

"I was throwing balls over the heart of the plate," he said. "I wasn't working ahead in the count as well as I would like. You know, I hit a guy on an 0-2 pitch, I walked a guy. Those are the things I don't need to do, especially in the World Series."

Lee has still struck out 41 batters and walked only two in 28 2/3 postseason innings this year.

Last year while pitching for Philadelphia, Lee took the ball with his team trailing 3-1 in the World Series and won the game. However, the Phillies bowed out the next night.

As good as Lee is, though, this is the moment Lincecum has been groomed for and that San Francisco has been waiting for.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Chris Ruddick at cruddick@sportsnetwork.com.

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