Giants: 2012 Vs. Mariners

(originally written 6/18/12)

June 15, at Mariners (4-2 win)
 
Ryan Vogelsong, with a little help from a gorgeous double play turned by Ryan Theriot, goes seven-plus strong innings for the win. My personal offensive highlight: not a kissed solo homer by Buster Posey nor Melky Cabrera's two-run shot, but rather Joaquin Arias' fly ball to drive in Angel Pagan from third base. You have to understand just the great many instances this team has failed in that regard in recent years. If you can.
 
June 16, at Mariners (7-4 loss)
 
The Giants let a 4-2 lead to offensively-challenged (.233 team average entering the June 15 game; .197 at Safeco—not a misprint) Seattle dink, doink, fumble, and double-clutch itself into a 7-4 loss. I could tell you that Tim Lincecum, a Seattle resident and native, started and ultimately lost this game. There’s not really a need to, sadly. If you’ve followed the 2012 Giants, you know that if Tim started, chances are the Giants lost. They were 2-12 overall in Lincecum’s 14 starts at this point, and he personally is 2-8.
 
2-8. Two and eight.
Those figures used to roughly represent his average walk and K totals in any given start.
“Hey, how many did Timmy walk, and how many did he whiff?”
“Let’s see…2 and 8.”
“…proper.”
 
There’s little I can say about Lincecum and his shockingly miserable 2012 season that hasn’t already been said. It sucks, end of story. Unless you’re a Dodger fan. Do you see the irony? Everyone predicted Lincecum's slight body would eventually be his undoing. Not once could anyone have imagined he'd simply fall victim to plain old ineffectiveness.
Remember the May 20 game against Oakland in which he was crunched while covering home plate, drawing terrified groans from the home crowd? Not to wish injury on him or any other athlete, but in retrospect, maybe some time off would have done Tim—and the team—some good.
 
NOTE: Two starts later Lincecum shut down the Dodgers and seemed to be "back". He'd even made another tag attempt at home plate—this one successful! Right then, with 40K strong going nuts in support of their fearless hero, that one play could have been the symbolic turning point of 2012; the moment in which Lincecum snatched back his dominance from the oppressive baseball gods. Sadly, Tim was savagely knocked around at Washington on July 3 and, for the first time throughout this rough season, appeared physically defeated.)
 
Additionally, it must be noted that Brandon Belt's 2nd inning single moved me. It was a work of art; Belt went the other way on a tailing Kevin Millwood fastball with just the right precision. He kept his weight back, watched the ball into the zone, and rotated into it perfectly. Readers, it really was artistic; a Wade Boggs/Tony Gwynn Sr. special. Coming off his bat, the ball looked like a softball—he got it squarely on the sweet spot and drove it solidly into left field.
 
If by some stroke of terrible luck this ball was caught, Belt should have received an ovation, like when a pitcher's no-hit bid gets broken up.
 
Gregor Blanco couldn't get thrown out today. He beat out a bunt single in which he actually reached first before the ball was thrown there, he beat Casper Wells' strong throw to 2B attempting to double him off, and he beat Miguel Montero's attempt to erase him stealing third. Gregor could have walked into yoga class with six barking dogs and not even they were throwing him out today.
(Observation: Wells, when swinging, looks exactly like ex-M Richie Sexson. Which, if you're an M's fan, may be taken as an insult. It's not, I promise.)
 
June 17, at Mariners (2-1 loss)
 
It started off well; the Giants had 2010 Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez wobbling in the 1st but ultimately settled for a lone run; they wouldn't score again. Seattle tied this game and eventually won on a walk-off hit in the 9th. What I remember most about this game: watching the gradual fade of the once-peerless Ichiro. For the first ten years of his MLB career, there weren't enough superlatives for his play—he could do anything on the field except routinely hit home runs (although one of his most famous highlights is his inside-the-park home run in the 2007 Midsummer Classic at AT&T Park.) He never seemed to ache or age. #51 gave every indication he could play at a high level until age 51.
 
Watching him in these three games, it is clear that not even Ichiro will be able to outrun Father Time. After a decade of play that defining as "excellent" almost seems insulting, Ichiro has proven to be mortal in 2011-12. It's difficult to articulate, but his declining skillz are discernible if you have enough of the superstar Ichiro seared into your memory banks. Given the mostly-rotten teams he's been saddled on since the historical 2001 M's club he broke in with, it's a testament to his character that he remained as motivated and productive throughout the past decade as he did.
 
On the Giants' roster is #65 Steve Edlefsen, #61 Shane Loux, #75 Barry Zito, and now #70 George Kontos. If they ever recall reliever #87 Dan Otero from AAA, the Giants could boast the 2012 All-"Am I watching MLB or the NFL?"-team. (On second thought, please don't recall Otero. Don't need the honor that bad.)