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Mike Kickham Takes The Mound Without A Single Pun In My Headline

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Poor Mike Kickham. OK, not poor, really, because he's 24 years old and being paid to pitch at the highest level of professional baseball, and there's a small chance he might do it for many years, which would be awesome. 

But poor Mike, I say, because his start tonight -- his major-league debut after a small handful of pretty good starts at AAA -- is not just some rookie scrub farmhand making a tiny scratch mark in the ever-flowing baseball encyclopedia of life, the way thousands have done before him and thousands after him will do. There's a bit more riding on this one.

Maybe you're not feeling it, but I am. I have been all year. It's a year of transition, what with the math of a Tim Lincecum return in 2014 just not adding up. It's also starting to feel like the Diamondbacks under Kevin Towers are doing the rebuilding thing the right way, while the Giants are looking at a dearth of top-level farm talent for at least a couple more years as their major league lineup gets deeper into the 30s (Pagan, Scutaro, Torres), farther into the 200-pound range (Sandoval), or stalls out at the complementary-part level (Belt, Blanco).

A really solid outing from Kickham tonight would be a psychological lift. Ah, we'd say, perhaps the upcoming transition will run more smoothly than we thought. Perhaps there is talent ready to step in, ready to beat back the voice behind our collective medullas oblongatas that's telling us how not even Buster Posey will save our Giants if half the roster gets old and creaky while the pitchers' health charts all turn into pumpkins. 

The psychological glow would remain for five days until Kickham's next start which, depending on the results of the intervening games, might again have undue expectations placed upon it.

The Giants are only a game and a half behind Arizona, and it's not yet June. What Mike Kickham does tonight isn't really a big deal. But with the evolving fragility of the pitching staff and an upcoming string of games at St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Arizona and Atlanta, what Kickham does the next three weeks could become a big deal. And tonight's the first chapter. No pressure, kid.



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