Some pitchers are dominant the first couple of times through the lineup, and then fall apart.
That’s why God created the bullpen. Or was it Tony LaRussa?
Anyway, Tim Lincecum wasn’t spectacular at the beginning of the game on Aug. 6, needing a strike thrown by left fielder Fred Lewis to nail Casey Kotchman at home plate in the first inning — at a time when strikes were difficult to come by for Lincecum.
Lincecum would end up walking four Atlanta Braves today, and gave up three hits to Braves catcher Brian McCann. Those were the only issues in a lightening-quick 3-2 Giants win.
It was obvious that Lincecum’s stuff wasn’t as electric as it usually is (even the extremely generous Mays Field radar gun rarely went higher than 93 mph in the game’s early stages), but that almost worked to his advantage. Lincecum only struck out 8 Braves today, allowing him to get eight innings from his pitch count allowance (117 pitches today), which led to a contest that simply flew by in two hours and fourteen minutes.
Lincecum had pitched more than seven innings only twice this season before today, on May 10 in an 8-2 win over the Phillies, and when he beat the Cubs 4-2 on July 13, the day before the All Star break (meaning he was probably pitching under the early stages of flu-like symptoms, right?). Not only did Lincecum strike out the side in the eighth inning today, he did it against Kotchman, McCann and Omar Infante, the only Braves to give Lincecum any real trouble today. Same old dominant Lincecum, just a little later than usual. That’s why you’ll never confuse Lincecum with Kevin Correia: hitters don’t get better the more they face Lincecum. OK, there are several other reasons why you wouldn’t confuse Lincecum with Correia, but you get the point.
It was interesting that in a game where Lincecum seemed to expend less effort and embarrass fewer hitters, he finally picked up his twelfth win on August 6, his first since that July 13 victory at Wrigley Field. It helped that Aaron Rowand hit a two-run homer in the first inning today to knock in Randy Winn, who went 4-for-4 today, but the Giants still only scored three runs, the same total they tallied in Lincecum’s two previous starts (both somewhat infamous no-decisions against Arizona and San Diego).
(Side note: you know it’s a tough season offensively for your team when homers in consecutive days make you a little giddy.)
Short getaway games like today are great for Major Leaguers, who not only are in a hurry to end a series as quickly as possible but also seem to loathe playing baseball during daylight hours in general. But it’s kind of weird as a fan. It’s tough to sink your teeth into a good “what’s the matter with (fill in the blank) chant when the game’s over before you even settle into your seat. After watching the home team win the game and the series there were no complaints from the faithful at Mays Field, but there’s just something a little odd about a baseball game ending at 3:00.