If I told you that Tim Lincecum regularly hit 93 mph on the speed gun, walked just two and struck out eight, including Matt Kemp three times as part of an 0-for-5 night, you’d have to think it was a great night for the Freak and the Giants.
Oh, it was a so close to being true.
The game got away from Lincecum in the fourth inning, and Giants could not recover. Lincecum put himself in a bad position by leaving some pitches up. But his outstanding start to the game was completely undone by one bad pitch.
Giants fans had to feel good after Lincecum got through the first inning unscathed. He mixed in a walk and a single in-between three strikeouts in a 24-pitch frame.
But he was back to his dominant self in the second and third innings, with his fastball hitting 93 mph and his slider at 87 mph, a good 3-4 mph bump from his previous outings.
Then came the fourth. It started with Andre Ethier lacing a double to right. Lincecum left a pitch up and Bobby Abreu slapped it into center, with Ethier holding at third.
Juan Uribe hit a ball sharply to third that Joaquin Arias was able to glove, but slipped when he went to throw Abreu out at second. That went for an infield single as Ethier scored.
A wild pitch moved the runners up to second and third before a James Loney struck out for the first out.
Lincecum walked AJ Ellis on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases. Dodger skipper Don Mattingly pinch-hit for pitcher Chad Billingsley, calling on Tony Gwynn Jr.
But Lincecum jumped out to an 0-2 count. And that’s when he hung a curve ball right in the middle of the plate that Gwynn whacked to right for a three-run triple. Dodgers 4, Giants 2.
And that was it.
“You’re questioning yourself during games and during situations like that,” Lincecum said. “It’s just about execution. That’s what it comes down to making a better pitch in a situation where you’re ahead in the count, it’s in your favor and you’ve got their guy guessing. So why give the guy a cookie down the middle that he can see well?”
Why indeed. Lincecum got out of the fourth with the 4-2 deficit. He would pitch the fifth before exiting with 101 pitches, 74 for strikes.
The fourth inning had a double-negative effect on the Giants. It created an opportunity for the Dodgers to get Billngsley out of the game.
The Giants tagged Billingsley for seven hits and four walks in four innings, but again failed to big hit to break the game open.
Actually, two Nate Schierholtz plays on the basepaths really hurt the Giants.
In the second, after drawing a one-out walk, Schierholtz was caught stealing second base. That was followed by a walk to Arias, single by Brandon Crawford and single by Tim Lincecum that produced the game’s first run, when it should have produced at least two.
In the third, it got worse for Schierholtz.
Melky Cabrera had a one-out triple and scored on Buster Posey’s single. Brandon Belt grounded into a force play, but Schierholtz singled to put runners on first and second. Arias singled to center that appeared to score Belt, but Schierholtz made a big turn around second and scrambled back to the bag. Matt Kemp alertly saw this and threw Schierholtz out BEFORE Belt came across the plate.
That’s two runs the Giants left on the base paths, perhaps even more.
As we’ve said before, the Giants don’t have the kind of offense to keep making mistakes that prevent runs from being scored.
The Giants get a day off Thursday before opening a three-game series in Arizona, who are riding a five-game losing streak.