"I'm used to watching him close out games since I was in the Minors. That's normal for me," Lincecum said.The chances of this scenario unfolding were created as Lincecum and Wilson gained election to the NL pitching staff for the July 13 All-Star Game at Anaheim in voting conducted by players, managers and coaches. A slim possibility exists for a third Giant to make the squad. Manager Bruce Bochy revealed that Aubrey Huff, whose offensive value and defensive versatility have buoyed San Francisco, is being considered as an alternate in case injury sidelines an existing All-Star. Huff's ability to play first base and the outfield corners enhances his hitting (.290, 15 home runs, 47 RBIs entering Sunday). Fans, having already decided the starters and this week the final player on each team, once again will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevy via the 2010 All-Star Game MVP Vote Sponsored by Sprint on MLB.com during the All-Star Game. The 81st Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and Le Reseau des Sports, and 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. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage. It's the third consecutive All-Star selection for Lincecum, 26. The last Giants pitcher to make that many All-Star teams in a row was Hall of Famer Juan Marichal, who went on an eight-season run from 1962-69. Lincecum, 8-4 with a 3.28 ERA, expressed surprise. The reigning two-time NL Cy Young Award winner holds himself to a high performance standard. Without wanting to sound ungrateful, Lincecum indicated that he didn't merit another All-Star honor, due to the occasional struggles he has endured this season. "Guys with spectacular stats are having trouble getting in," said Lincecum, the NL's All-Star starter last year when he allowed two runs (one earned) in two innings at St. Louis. "... I'm not saying that I had everything set up to go back to Seattle during that time, but I kind of had an idea that I would probably want to do that. Change of plans. "Obviously I have high expectations for myself, as do a lot of players in here. ... I really don't know how to say this. It is tough to accept things when you're going through mental struggles. It's almost hard to take compliments and such. I'm the biggest critic of myself. ... Most people would say that I'm kind of knocking myself, but I just have high expectations." Lincecum managed to flash his sense of humor. Referring to his first All-Star trip in 2008, when he traveled to New York but missed the game due to illness, Lincecum jokingly said, "Maybe I'll actually make it to the All-Star Game. This would be two. But don't count me out yet. I might not make it to the game." Lincecum's humility aside, he entered Sunday with an NL-high 121 strikeouts and ranked second with an average of 9.93 strikeouts per nine innings. Bad luck has muted his win total, since San Francisco relievers have blown four late-inning leads he has bequeathed to them. Nevertheless, the Giants have won 11 of Lincecum's 17 starts. "You look at the hiccups he has had, but you don't realize he's had a good first half," Bochy said in defense of Lincecum. "So much is expected of him." The same could be said of Wilson (2-0, 2.10 ERA), who made his second All-Star team. He and Lincecum were first chosen to participate in the Midsummer Classic in 2008. Wilson has converted 10 of his previous 11 save opportunities, including his last eight. He ranks second in the NL with 22 saves. Said Bochy, "We're not happy with where we are [in the NL West standings], but where would we be without Brian?"
There's rarely a dull moment with Wilson on the mound. He has allowed at least one baserunner in 13 of his 24 save opportunities. Yet he has blown just two chances. His 91.7 save percentage is second in the league.With 46 strikeouts and 15 walks in 34 1/3 innings, Wilson has averaged a personal-high 12 strikeouts per nine innings and has recorded a 3/1 strikeout/walk ratio, another career best. "I don't think you can expect an All-Star selection, regardless of what your numbers are," said Wilson, 28. "There are a lot of deserving guys out there. It's not something you really want to focus on. It's a nice aspiration to work towards for the first half, but ultimately we have a bigger goal in mind. That's ... closing out the first half on a positive note." But Wilson wouldn't mind helping the NL defeat the AL to earn home-field advantage for the World Series.
"That would be just epic," Wilson said, adding that he envisions the Giants capitalizing on that edge.Lincecum's contract calls for him to receive a $100,000 bonus for making the All-Star team. Wilson will get a $25,000 bonus.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less