ARLINGTON, Texas (CBS / AP) –Shaggy hair. Funky delivery. World Series star.
Tim Lincecum took the ball for his biggest outing yet and showed he’s still every bit the ace who won the last two NL Cy Young Awards. Lincecum — call him the ‘Freak’ or ‘Franchise’ — pitched the Giants to their first World Series championship since moving West to San Francisco in 1958 in a 3-1 victory over the Texas Rangers on Monday night.
Make it two World Series wins for the slightly built right-hander: the opener and the clincher. While he was just good enough to beat Cliff Lee in Game 1, Lincecum had everything working in this one.
The face of these Giants since the departure of home run king Barry Bonds in 2007, Lincecum now has a World Series ring symbolizing the greatest team accomplishment to go alongside all the individual accolades.
This tops it all. With a title in hand, he will have to be considered among the best pitchers of his era. If he wasn’t already.
Few will remember that career-worst, five-start losing streak in August — because only four months after his 26th birthday he ruled the Rangers in the Giants’ first chance to close this out. No sending this series back to AT&T Park with title-starved Giants fans fearing another collapse.
It’s fitting San Francisco won the World Series playing the kind of game it had all year: a close one dependent on the pitcher being almost perfect.
Lincecum struck out 10 and walked two in eight dominant innings, a spectacular 101-pitch performance that gives him his own place in history. He needed all of 19 pitches to get through two innings, tossing six pitches in a 1-2-3 second.
Lincecum did what generations of Giants greats and Hall of Famers couldn’t. And in a hostile environment to boot.
Bonds and the 2002 team were within six outs of winning it all against the wild-card Angels. Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda are still haunted by their near-miss in 1962. The 1989 Giants were swept by the cross-bay rival Oakland Athletics in an earthquake-interrupted World Series.
Who would have thought it would be Lincecum and crew to finally do it?
The pitcher with the awkward-looking throwing motion taught by his father when Lincecum was a young boy outside Seattle, is a shining example it’s not all about how imposing one looks on the mound.
At 5-foot-11 and a generously listed 170 pounds, Lincecum used to be mistaken for a bat boy when entering the ballpark after he was first called up in May 2007 — less than a year removed from the University of Washington.
In the dugout between innings, he hides his head under a towel. On nights he’s not pitching, his face can barely be seen inside an oversized hooded sweatshirt.
It’s those quirks — and others such as not icing his arm and eating ice cream cones before starts — that make the Lincecum who he is.
Maybe his latest thrill will help him come out of that shell. Though, why change what certainly works just fine? He is the Freak, after all.