Tim Lincecum is still not the Tim Lincecum we are used to seeing dominate teams. But he made another positive step in that direction.
After getting his first win of the season Monday in New York, Lincecum got another win in a solid eight-inning, 122-pitch outing against the Padres.
So let’s break it down, the good and the bad.
GOOD: He got his first quality start of the season, giving up no earned runs in eight innings. His ERA is at 5.74 now.
BAD: His velocity is still not what we’re used to seeing. He hit 90 and 91 at spots, but was consistently at 89 mph most of the game.
GOOD: He stayed at 89 mph all the way through the game, even as his pitch count got up into the 120s.
BAD: He struggled to knock batters out with a strikeout pitch. He only had five, his second lowest-total this season despite facing a season-high 31 batters. And three of those strikeouts were to the opposing pitcher, Anthony Bass.
GOOD: Even though the Padres were hitting the ball, they were making outs. The Padres only managed three hits and none of them left the infield: a swinging bunt by Jesus Guzman in the first inning, a grounder by Yonder Alonso to second baseman Emmanuel Burriss in the second inning which was originally rules an error (correctly), then changed to a hit (incorrectly), and a bunt single by Will Venable in the eighth.
BAD: Lincecum walked four.
GOOD: Yes, but only one of them came after the third inning.
BAD: If not for two stellar running catches to the warning track by Melky Cabrera in left, it would have been much worse for Lincecum.
GOOD: After those hard shots in the fourth, Lincecum set down 8 of the next 9 without much fuss. In fact those outs by Cabrera were part of a stretch when Lincecum retired 12 of 13.
BAD: It was the Padres.
GOOD: It’s part of a longer stretch. Lincecum has now allowed one earned run in the past 13 innings (0.62 ERA) and two earned runs in his past 17 innings (1.06 ERA).
- Pablo Sandoval went 0 for 4 to end his season-opening hitting streak at 20. A blessing in disguise maybe. The Panda appeared to be pressing in recent days and did not look good Saturday, making out on first pitches three times.
- Angel Pagan’s bunt single in the eighth extended his hitting streak to 13 games.
- Brandon Belt had the big hit with his two-run double in the seventh inning. He’s hitting .278 now.
- Lincecum broke up Bass’ perfect game bid with an infield single in the sixth.
- Santiago Casilla recorded his third save in three tries, striking out one and only allowing a baserunner on his own error.
- Before the game, the Giants sent pitcher Eric Hacker back to Fresno after his quality start Friday and called up reliever Steve Edlefsen to give them seven pitchers in the bullpen again.
Madison Bumgarner faces lefty Clayton Richard. No word whether Saturday’s hero Belt will be in there vs. a lefty or if we’ll see Brett Pill, or even Buster Posey at 1B (day game after night game) and Hector Sanchez catching. We’ll look for Belt in there (either at first or left field) and scuffling Nate Schierholtz to get a day off.
A look at the box score Monday in New Yokr may give the appearance that everything is right with Tim Lincecum.
The Freak gave up one run on five hits and struck out eight. Sounds good, right?
He also walked five and labored to get through five innings, throwing 108 pitchers (60 for strikes).
So instead of being wild in the zone (as he has been in his first three starts), Lincecum was wild out of the zone. When he got ahead 0-2, instead of giving up 0-2 hits, he threw balls that we’re easily out of strike zone — easy takes, as Mike Krukow put it.
And he did this even after the Giants had given him a 5-1 lead or 6-1 lead.
If you’re up five runs, with no one on base, throw strikes.
It seemed, at times, that even when Lincecume wasn’t to throw strikes, he could not.
He threw no fewer than 17 pitches in any of his innings, throwing between 22-28 pitches in the second through fourth innings.
He loaded the bases in the fifth on two walks and a single, but got out of it when Emmanuel Burriss bailed him out by turning a nice double play on Lincecum’s 108th pitch.
Lincecum came into this season trying to focus on throwing more strikes and avoiding walks. He walked 86 batters last season, second most in the National League.
Coming into Monday’s game, he had walked only four. He walked five on Monday. So the approach may have changed some.
But he still needs to find command of his fastball.
Like we mentioned before, the Mets are not raking the ball right now, so it was a favorable matchup for Lincecum to work out his kinks.
He’ll get another favorable matchup in his next start, at home Saturday against the NL-worst hitting Padres.
But then after that, it’s at home against the Brewers on May 4 and at the Dodgers on May 9.
So the Freak needs to get this thing ironed out soon.
Another Tim Lincecum, another rough start for The Freak.
Lincecum gave up five runs on eight hits in six innings of work, his longest outing of the season (ouch!) in the loss to the Phillies on Monday.
And while there is certainly concern for the two-time Cy Young winner, there’s certainly no reason to panic … yet.
So for each of the nine first-inning runs Lincecum has allowed this season, we’ll pass along nine good reason NOT to panic about Lincecum.
1. He lowered his season ERA. OK, fine, it may have been only because he came into the game with an ERA at 12.91 and now it sits at 10.54. But it’s something.
2. If the defense had helped him out, Lincecum would have had his damage minimized if not eliminated. Placido Polanco’s one-out double should have been caught, instead of falling between Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera. Pagan then did not field Hunter Pence’s single cleanly, eliminating any chance of a play at the plate with the less-than-fleet-footed Polanco. Laynce Nix’s two-run double, which capped the first-inning scoring, should have at best been a one-run double and more like a one-run single, but Cabrera could not get to the ball before it headed to the wall in right. We’ve seen a lot of this from Cabrera this season (thank God we’re not depending on him to play CF). This issue may actually have a bigger impact on Brandon Belt. The Giants’ best defensive outfield alignment in Cabrera in left, Pagan in center and Nate Schierholtz in right. But Monday, Schierholtz said so Aubrey Huff started in left and Belt at first. After watching his defense struggle Monday, we may see more of Schierholtz patrolling AT&T Park’s tricky right field.
3. The Giants are used to having one of their five starting pitchers struggling. They’ve been used to it since 2007.
4. After the first inning, Lincecum limited the damage, allowing only run on four hits over the next five innings. Through three starts, Lincecum has a first-inning ERA of 27.00. He’s given up nine runs in the first inning this season. In 33 starts last season, he gave up a total of 8. If he can get THAT figured out, things should improve.
5. Who needs to worry about Tim Lincecum when you’ve got Barry Zito!!!!
6. Lincecum’s drop in velocity can be attributed to a lack of control than anything else. Lincecum said all through the spring that the has struggled to locate his fastball, leaving many up. That fact, and the fact that he is looking to reduce his 86 walks from 2011, has led to the reduced velocity. If you can’t control your fastball, what do you do? You take something off of it so that he can gain more control. According to CSNBayArea.com, Lincecum was throwing between 90-92 in the first inning, when he gave up those four runs. After the first, he threw between 89-91. Why? To gain command. We expect once Lincecum finds his rhythm and command, the mph on his fastball will rise back to the 92-93 that we are more used to.
7. The upcoming schedule is a favorable for Lincecum. His next start is slated to come Sunday in the New York. And even with their hot start, the Mets are still the Mets, hardly a vaunted lineup. And even with the fences moved in a bit, Citi Field continues to be more of a pitchers park. Then Lincecum should miss the series in Cincinnati (good thing) so he can open the next homestead against the crummy Padres.
8. Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner are both locked up through 2017.
9. We’ve seen Lincecum go through funks like this before. And we’ve seen him work his way out of these funks.
Well, thank God for Barry Zito.
Who would imagine we’d ever write that a week ago?
But a lot of assumptions we had about the 2012 Giants in spring training haven’t been fulfilled so far in the regular season.
We thought the offense would struggle. Nope. The Giants are averaging almost six runs a game so far this season.
We thought Brandon Belt was going to rake. No. He’s hitting .091 this season.
We though Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner were ready for the season. Well, so far we haven’t seen that, particularly from Lincecum.
But before we get to the ugly details of Wednesday’s game in Colorado, let’s get to the stuff apparently everyone wants to know about — The Freak’s new haircut.
Lincecum had about 4 inches of length cut off his locks during Tuesday’s day off in Denver. But his hair was so long, it was hard to notice.
So we’ve included a picture from Wednesday game with his new haircut, and one from spring training, so you could see the difference.
The big difference we want to see is on Lincecum’s pitching.
The Freak got knocked around for six runs on eight hits and two walks in 2 1/3 innings, the shortest outing of his career.
Yet Lincecum needed 76 pitches to get seven outs.
His velocity was good, topping out at 93 mph. But he struggled to locate his fastball, which was up and catching too much of the plate. The Rockies then pounded those pitches, even after falling
behind 0-2 or 1-2 in the count.
“Just sloppy baseball for me,” Lincecum said. “Not really executing pitches, missing a lot, and it’s going to hurt you, especially in this park.
If there’s silver lining, it’s that Lincecum wasn’t alone in his pitching struggles, leading some to claim that the Rockies didn’t put the baseballs into their famed humidor Wednesday.
“I actually thought his stuff was a little crisper, he was just up,” manager Bruce Bochy said of Lincecum. “He left a lot pitches up, a lot of mistakes when he was up in the count. Tough time putting hitters away, really across the board with the staff. Rough night for the staff.”
Rockies starter Jeremy Guthrie couldn’t make it out of the fourth inning, when the Giants erased a 6-0 deficit with a seven-run fourth.
But that didn’t last long as Guillermo Mota came into the game and gave up five runs (four earned) in one-plus innings. Jeremy Affeldt didn’t fare much better, giving up five more runs (two earned) in two innings.
The low-point came when the Rockies put up a seven-run inning of their own in the fifth.
Ramon Hernandez’s single scored Todd Helton with the fourth run of the inning, then the Giants failed twice on the same play to get the third out of the inning.
Angel Pagan’s throw from center was not going to be in time to get Helton at home. Brett Pill went to cut the throw off, but instead deflected it to the right of home plate.
Catcher Hector Sanchez chased the ball down and threw to Affeldt covering home in time to beat Michael Cuddyer trying to score. But Cuddyer stopped short and headed back to third.
Affeldt threw to Pablo Sandoval, who ran Cuddyer back toward home. Sandoval attempted to throw to Sanchez at home. But Pill, who was between Sandoval and Sanchez, thought the throw was to him and attempted to catch the ball and swipe tag Cuddyer going by in one motion, and failed to hold onto the ball.
As Cuddyer scored, Sandoval picked up the ball and threw to Brandon Crawford at third trying to cut down Hernandez trying to advance. But Hernandez pulled a Houdini act in avoiding Crawford’s tag and was safe at third. That allowed the Rockies to pile on two more runs in the inning on a double by Chris Nelson and triple by Eric Young Jr., and take a 16-7 lead.
We’ll try to find some other good news to report.
- Nate Schierholtz got his first start of the season and belted two solo home runs and added a sacrifice fly.
- 2B Emmanuel Burriss went 3 for 4 with three RBI.
- Pablo Sandoval smacked two doubles, keeping his bat hot.
- Buster Posey’s case of the shingles is not that serious, as Posey himself said. He came into warm up Affeldt between innings when Sanchez was getting his gear on. He also flied out in the eighth as a pinch-hitter.
- Despite giving up 17 runs on 22 hits, the Giants pitchers didn’t allow a home run. Small consolation, I know.
Madison Bumgarner hits the start against Jamie Moyer at 12:10 p.m. Thursday in a battle of diverse ages. We’re not sure what the lineup is going to look like, but if we had to guess, this is what we’d say.
CF Angel Pagan
LF Melky Cabrera
C Buster Posey
3B Pablo Sandoval
1B Brett Pill
LF Nate Schierholtz
SS Brandon Crawford
2B Emmanuel Burriss
P Madison Bumgarner
Let’s see if we’re right.
Wednesday started out as just as any other mid-week day after a day off in Denver that followed a Barry Zito shutout.
Then things got REALLY wacky.
First came the announced lineup for Wednesday’s game at Colorado that did not include Brandon Belt.
This came just two days after manager Bruce Bochy said, when talking about Belt’s day off on Monday: “I think we’re getting a little caught up here. There’s no panic (with Belt).” And then he said Belt would be back out there on Wednesday.
Then Wednesday’s come, and no Belt. What?
We’re guessing Bochy wanted to get Nate Schierholtz his first start on Wednesday. Then after doing that, he looked at the lineup that would have had a struggling Belt No. 5 followed by Schierholtz No. 6, then Brandon Crawford and Emmanuel Burriss, and he didn’t like it. So Aubrey Huff, who had a nice game Monday, gets the start.
OK, it’s not unreasonable. But with the lefty Jamie Moyer starting Thursday, we would expect Brett Pill to start at first base. That means no Belt starting the entire Rockies series, which is a lovely park for a struggling hitter to find his stroke.
Then, Lincecum showed up to the park with four inches of hair lopped off, saying that he “just wanted a haircut.”
But that story would take a backseat to the next nugget: Buster Posey was out of the lineup with shingles.
Shingles is triggered by the same virus that causes chicken pox, leading to painful blisters. Posey has blisters on his arm, left shoulder and back. Posey said he had chicken pox as a young child, but the virus stays dormant in the box and can be flared by a cold, lack of sleep or stress.
So beware Ozzie Guillen.
Posey said he started to feel worn down toward the end of spring training and the blisters began to emerge Sunday.
“You feel zapped,” he told CSNBayArea’s Andew Baggarly. “I just feel worn down still. I’m planning on being in there (Thursday), though.”
Posey has been told the condition generally clears in four or five days, but can last as long as three weeks.
Given that, we wouldn’t be surprised if Posey plays first base on Thursday, with Sanchez drawing another start behind the plate.
Still two hours until game time, and no word if Brian Wilson is clean-shaven or not.
Is it possible to scatter six extra-base hits? Well, Tim Lincecum found a way to do that Saturday against the Oakland Athletics.
Lincecum gave up six hits — one single, two triples and three doubles — but only one run in six innings, his longest outing of the spring.
Five of those extra-base hits came in the first two innings, but Lincecum worked his way out of a trouble with a little help from Nate Schierholtz.
It was all part of Lincecum’s pledge this spring: Throw more strikes.
“No walks,” he told CSNBayArea.com’s Andrew Baggarly. “It’s a huge thing for me. It’s about getting ahead, and even when you don’t, not being afraid to throw a wrinkle down the middle. For me, that’s a two-seamer. Hopefully, you induce a ground ball or something.”
Lincecum’s 86 walks last season ranked second in the National League last season (with extra thanks to Jonathan Sanchez and Barry Zito being hurt for a good portion of the year). Also, his 3.99 pitches per batter kept Lincecum from going deeper into games.
He was worried that was the case Saturday when he came in after the fourth inning and was surprised to find out he was only at 48 pitches.
“I was like ‘oh, I guess it’s not as bad as I thought,” he said.
- The offense got off to a slow start, managing just one hit in the first three innings. But the Giants got it going in the fourth with a single by Freddy Sanchez, double by Melky Cabrera, sacrifice fly (with two strikes) from Pablo Sandoval, double by Nate Schierholtz and home run from Ryan Theriot.
- Theriot’s home run was one of three on the game for the Giants. Sandoval and Angel Pagan added solo shots.
- Pagan, coming off have a wisdom tooth pulled earlier this week, went 2 for 4 with a stolen base and home run.
- Brian Wilson allowed an unearned run, but also walked two in his two-third of an inning. He also struck out two.
Well, that’s more like it.
Tim Lincecum made it a full trip through through the rotation with solid starts. Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Barry Zito and now Lincecum pitched at least three innings with no earned runs.
Lincecum cut his spring ERA in half by pitching four innings, giving up one unearned run on one hit and one walk with four strikeouts.
Heck, even Eric Surkamp, who would be the fill in for Ryan Vogelsong if he’s unable to go, gave up only one run in three innings.
“A lot better than last outing,” Lincecum said. “The fact that I doubled my innings helps and my arm still feels good, my body feels good, and I still kept my mechanics so I’m just trying to take that as a positive and run with it.”
Lincecum threw 37 of his 58 pitches for strikes. The lone run he allowed came when Jarrod Dyson got an infield hit that deflected off Lincecum’s foot. Dyson then stole second and took third when Eli Whiteside’s throw went into center. Dyson then scored on a groundout.
- OF Gregor Blanco continued to keep pressure on Giants brass by going 3 for 3 with a walk and his sixth stolen base of the spring. He’s hitting .545.
- Freddy Sanchez started again at DH, going 0 for 3 with a walk.
- 1B Brett Pill went 2 for 4 with a double.
- 3B Conor Gillaspie belted a solo home run in the second.
Madison Bumgarner gets the start as the Giants play the Cubs in Scottsdale at 1:05 p.m. Buster Posey is scheduled to catch four more innings.