I’ll admit, that wasn’t the result I expected. Not after Edwin Encarnacion hit a ball off the top of the snack shack in center field. It was a Bondsian shot, and of course it came on a 90-mph four-seam fastball. I obsessively tracked Lincecum’s struggles with the four-seamer in his last start, and wondered whether he’d fail to get out of the fifth inning again.
Instead, he breezed through his next six innings. It brought back fond memories, not just of pretty pitching lines but the kind of raw exuberance we haven’t seen from Lincecum in quite some time. After the first inning, Lincecum only gave up a walk and a hit, back-to-back in the sixth, and those were followed by a very strange inning-ending double play.
Lincecum, the man who was answering questions about becoming a full-time reliever over the weekend, completed seven strong innings in which he allowed fewer baserunners (four) than he had in any start all season. He threw 100 pitches exactly, and suddenly all seems right with the world. For a little while, anyway.
“I’d say more than anything he pounded the strike zone,” Bruce Bochy said. “He walked one guy, threw quality strikes. Good stuff, good command, mixed it up well. That’s more of the Timmy we know.”
Lincecum did walk only one Blue Jay (Toronto’s starting pitcher, Josh Johnson), and there were far fewer pitches that were WAY off target than usual. However, Lincecum threw 61 of his pitches for strikes, not a terrible ratio but by no means Greg Maddux-esque. He also started 13 of the 23 batters he faced with a ball.
“Mechanically I felt sound. Things just came out better,” Lincecum said. “I felt like I was attacking the zone consistently. Hitting the spots is the biggest thing. The equalizer today was throwing my offspeed for strikes.”
That’s why the stat I previously referenced about the first pitch of each at-bat may be not be all that important. (BAD STAT, STATBOY, WATCH THE GAME!) Lincecum can’t literally “pound the strike zone,” because he doesn’t throw 94-to-96 mph anymore. But if he can miss on pitches where Posey barely has to move his glove, which happened more often on Tuesday night, he can do pretty well.
One other thing to check on during future Lincecum outings is how often he throws one of his offspeed pitches in particular. According to Brooks Baseball, Lincecum threw 31 curveballs (17 for strikes). Lincecum has never thrown such a high percentage of curveballs in any of his Major League starts, and his high this season heading into Tuesday’s game was 12.82% on April 14 against the Chicago Cubs. (BTW, he threw 35 four-seam fastballs, 21 for strikes.)
Have Lincecum and Posey figured something out, or was tonight just a case of Lincecum having a great curveball against Toronto and both players deciding to ride it out until it stopped working? We’ll have to wait until at least Sunday to find out, but for the time being we won’t hear much about Lincecum heading to the bullpen.
— Lincecum made a comment about Melky Cabrera that made waves to a certain extent: “When you’re getting boos, it’s for a reason.” Here’s the entire quote, first in video form:
And now in standard quote form:
“A guy like that, when you’re getting boos, you know it’s for a reason. He was a good player for us, (inaudible) and you’re going to hear that here.”
— After the double play, Lincecum did this:
It seems like it’s been forever since we’ve seen the old Timmy, and not just in a pitching sense. Remember watching the guy pump his fist on the field? He used to yell all the time. He was the guy who sat in the dugout until the last out on games he pitched, bouncing off the walls. He was also a lip-reader’s dream back in those days, but that’s another story.
I asked Lincecum about that moment, and he wasn’t exactly in a mood to act happy around the media (which makes sense, since his ERA was over 5.00 heading into this game). So instead of talking about the emotional response to the play, he mainly talked about what Sandoval and Scutaro did, as well as what he thought about the umpire’s call.
Also, there was a new sticker in Lincecum’s locker: MOMENTIM.
— There were people picketing in support of the concession workers at AT&T Park before the game (and maybe during, I wouldn’t know). I shot a little video and took a photo of the two large banners on display at 3rd and King.
— I asked Torres about whether it’s easier to get into an offensive rhythm since he’s been getting regular playing time (due to Angel Pagan’s absence, but I didn’t mention that). Torres launched into a pretty standard no-excuses-I-have-to-get-the-job-done-regardless answer, but then he started talking about staying positive. No transcript here, because it wouldn’t really tell the story of how Torres answered this question.
I wrote this after his two-run blast over the centerfield wall:
With the offense (surprisingly good), the defense (surprisingly bad) and the bat-destruction, wildly entertaining season from Torres so far.
— Bay Area Sports Guy (@BASportsGuy) June 5, 2013
And I didn’t even mention interviews like this one or all the GIFs — Torres pretty much ruled the most recent version of Carmen’s weekly Top 5 GIFs post.
— Marco Scutaro made fun of the reporters crowded around Andres Torres’ locker. Don’t worry, Marco — I don’t like “how does it feel” questions either. Although “talk about …” questions are my biggest pet peeve. Also, Scutaro utters a bad word here, so if you’re against that sort of thing don’t click on this 15-second video.