Lincecum, Cain named Giants All-Stars
Cy Young winner could be tabbed as NL starter
SAN FRANCISCO -- Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, who have matched each other's success all season, will again pair off at the Midsummer Classic.The impressive Giants right-handers earned selection to the National League's pitching staff for the July 14 All-Star Game at St. Louis in voting announced Sunday by players, managers and coaches. And no wonder: Lincecum and Cain both own 9-2 records garnished by enviable ERAs (Lincecum, 2.23; Cain, 2.48).
Giants manager Bruce Bochy called their All-Star inclusion "no-brainers.""There's no question both of them were going to be on the team," Bochy said. "I'm really proud of Timmy and really Matt ... [with] the work he's put in, starting in Spring Training." In addition, infielder Pablo Sandoval was named as one of five NL candidates for the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Final Vote, which gives fans around the world the opportunity to select the final player on each All-Star team. The 80th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 5 p.m. PT. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage. XM will provide satellite radio play-by-play coverage of the XM All-Star Futures Game. Anybody still wondering how special Cain and Lincecum are should consider a simple fact: They're the first duo of Giants starting pitchers to be named All-Stars since eventual Hall of Famers Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry made the NL squad in 1966. Since then, the Giants have put two pitchers on the All-Star team several times, but one always was a reliever. The only other year in which the Giants had two All-Star starting pitchers since moving west was 1959, when Johnny Antonelli and Sam Jones earned the distinction. Lincecum, 25, made his second All-Star team in a row. He did not pitch in last year's game due to illness. Having likened his All-Star distinction last year to "the cherry on top of the cake," Lincecum again broke out the maraschinos to describe his satisfaction. This time he called being named to the team the "cherry on the ice cream." The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner and league's Pitcher of the Month for June is finishing the first half with a flourish. He has pitched complete games in three of his last five starts and compiled a 23-inning scoreless streak. Lincecum also has not allowed a runner to reach third base in his last 18 innings. He has made 13 quality starts (allowing three earned runs or fewer in outings of at least six innings) in 16 apppearances. Cain, 24, made his first All-Star team, though earning this honor has been considered his destiny since he was selected in the first round (25th overall) in the 2002 First-Year Player Draft. "It's definitely something I always wanted to do [since] I was younger," Cain said, admitting that he felt "a little bit of amazement" upon receiving the honor. Cain earned election to the team by working at least six innings in each of his 16 starts, with one exception: a rain-shorted, five-inning complete game in the nightcap of a doubleheader June 4 at Washington. He has 11 quality starts in 16 games. Cain recorded a 15-30 mark in the previous two seasons, hampered mainly by poor run support. This year, however, he's receiving more than five runs a game. Cain also reported to Spring Training in noticeably better physical condition, which has helped his stamina. Like other Giants pitchers, Cain has responded to the influence of Randy Johnson, the five-time Cy Young winner whose focus on competing and winning has proven infectious. Both Cain and Lincecum rank among the league leaders in wins, ERA, complete games (they share the NL lead with three apiece), strikeouts (Lincecum tops the NL with 141), innings, opponents' batting average and winning percentage. They also would seem to have an excellent chance of appearing in the game. Lincecum has been mentioned as a possible starter for the NL, partly because of his dynamic style but also because All-Star Game day coincides with what would be his regular turn to pitch. Arizona's Dan Haren has been cited as another possible choice to start. Lincecum, said Bochy, is "probably one of the favorites to start, if not the favorite. He'll be fresh, and he'll be ready to go." Lincecum called the prospect of starting "definitely exciting. ... Hopefully I won't get too caught up in the situation and throw 95-mile-an-hour fastballs in the dirt just because my adrenaline's going. That's one thing I'm worried about. I'm going to try to take it like a regular game and have fun with it." Cain would be due for his between-starts bullpen throwing session on the day of the All-Star Game, providing a perfect opportunity for him to go to the Busch Stadium mound.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.