Giants 2, Padres 0: The first truly good sign from Tim Lincecum in 2013

San Francisco Giants' Tim Lincecum works against the San Diego Padres in the first inning of a baseball game Saturday, April 20, 2013, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

San Francisco Giants’ Tim Lincecum works against the San Diego Padres in the first inning of a baseball game Saturday, April 20, 2013, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Tim Lincecum is 2-0. He was had a win-loss record two games over .500 in 2012. He was never one over .500. The best he was in 2012 was 2-2 after five starts.

Tim Lincecum’s ERA is 3.97. The only time his ERA was that low in 2012 was after he retired the first batter he faced IN THE ENTIRE SEASON.

The Giants won a game by shutout when Lincecum started. That only happen once in 2012 — on June 27 against the Dodgers.

And the Giants are 4-0 this season when Lincecum starts. In fact, going back to September of last season, the Giants are 9-1 in Lincecum’s last 10 regular-season starts.

So everything is right with Tim Lincecum, right?

Well, we aren’t about to go that far, but Saturday’s win over the Padres was by far his best start of the season.

He avoided the blow-up innings that hurt him against the Rockies and Cubs. And he didn’t put himself in dangerous situations by walking batters, like the seven he walked in his first start of the season against the Dodgers.

The bottom line for Lincecum on Saturday: 6.2 IP, 0 runs, 4 hits, 2 walks and 8 strikeouts.

“I just went out there today with purpose and knowing that every pitch has got a meaning to it,” Lincecum said. “When I can go out there and do that and you can stick to your game plan and know that it’s going to work, it gives you something like a springboard to jump off of, instead of kind of going out there aimlessly.”

The only time Lincecum really got himself into a tight spot came in the third inning, when he gave up a lead-off single to Alexi Amarista. After striking out John Baker and getting Andrew Cashner out on a sacrifice, Lincecum walked Everth Cabrera before Will Venable loaded the bases on a swinging bunt.

A blow-up inning looked possible when Chase Headley came to the plate and worked the count to 3-1.

“I said to myself, ‘I’m not going to walk this guy, I’ve got to challenge this guy and be aggressive,’ ” Lincecum said. “That’s what I was thinking all day. I’m not going to try to nitpick around these guys like I have in the past. Even if it’s down the middle, I’ve got throw every pitch with a meaning and that was the difference today.”

Lincecum ran a fastball in on Headley, who may have helped Lincecum out by swinging at the pitch. He grounded out to second to end the inning.

Lincecum set the side down in order in four of the seven innings he started. He stretched to scoreless streak to 10.2 innings. In fact, he has not allowed an earned run in 19.2 of the 22.2 innings that he’s pitched all season.

Has Timmy returned to his former self? Too early to tell. His next start will come next Friday against these same Padres in San Diego, but we may not get a real good answer until his next start which comes against the Diamondbacks in Arizona, where trouble seems to find him.

But he was on Saturday, and the Giants needed him to be. They only mustered four hits and scored only when Pablo Sandoval sent a two-run home run to right in the fourth.


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