Sunday was another trek down improbability lane.
The Giants moved to 0-8 in games started by Lincecum since May 4. They are 22-5 in all other games.
That stat is simply staggering.
Lincecum’s state line Sunday fell right into his normal pattern this season: five runs on nine hits and four walks in 5 2/3 innings. He gave up five singles, three doubles and a triple.
Unlike some of his past outings, it wasn’t one bad inning. He gave one run in the third, two in the fourth and two in the sixth.
Yet with good defense, Lincecum could have escaped with just one run allowed. With great defense, he could have not allowed a run at all.
Let’s take a look back:
In the third with a runner on third and two out, Adrian Beltre sent a one-hop bullet past Pablo Sandoval. It was hit so hard that it went for a double despite being hit to Sandoval’s left. It was a clean hit, but with quicker reflexes and range, it could have been an outing.
In the fourth with a runner on first and one out, Craig Gentry hit a sharp grounder to Sandoval, who went to backhand the ball. But it hit off the heel of his glove and went for an infield hit. Now with two one and one out, Alexis Ogando tried to bunt the runners over. His bunt was hard and to the left of Lincecum. Instead of charging the ball, Sandoval retreated at first to cover third. By the time he recovered, Ogando was safe with another infield hit. Ian Kinsler then pulled a double down the left-field line to score two.
Now some may say that even if Ogando had been thrown out, Kinsler’s double still would have scored two. But with two out and first base open, Lincecum may have taken a different approach with Kinsler. The bigger play was Sandoval’s inability to field Gentry’s grounder. If he does that, Lincecum like gets out of the inning by getting Ogando out.
In the sixth with one on and no out, Sandoval fielded Robbie Ross’ bunt. But his throw to second required an extra effort by Brandon Crawford to catch the ball and eliminated any chance at a double play. Kinsler then grounded to Crawford, who in his haste to try to turn two made a bad exchange from glove to hand. So instead of getting one out, or maybe even two, both runners were safe. It was ruled a hit. Then Elvis Andrus hit a one hopper right at Sandoval, who did not field the ball cleanly and was only able to get the force out at second, instead of an inning-ending double play. So Lincecum got three straight infield grounders, but only two outs. Then Josh Hamilton hammered a two-run double to end Lincecum’s day.
So with some defensive help, Lincecum’s day could have been much different. But the Lincecum of old would generally find his way out of trouble, even if the defense helped create the mess. But not this Lincecum.
Lincecum gave up four extra base-hits. Three of them came with two outs and runners on base, leading to all five of his runs allowed.
Not that much of this mattered Sunday. With the Giants’ inept offensive effort Sunday, all the Rangers needed was that first run.
But we grow tired of making excuses for Lincecum. He needs to get this figured out and soon.
The schedule is there to help him. His next start will come Saturday in his hometown (hometownish, he’s actually from Renton) of Seattle against the weak-hitting Mariners. Then, he’ll face another weak-hitting team — the Athletics in Oakland.
Of course facing a weak-hitting team in a pitcher-friendly park didn’t help Lincecum last week against the Padres, so we’ll see.