When the pressure was higher than ever, San Francisco Giants ace Tim Lincecum stepped up. And he probably delivered his best performance of the season in the Giants’ 3-2 win over Houston in 12 innings.
And he didn’t just step up. He made everyone forget about one terrible half of pitching he’s had.
Lincecum pitched eight innings of shutout ball while striking out 11 Astros in his first start of the second half Saturday night in San Francisco. The former Cy Young winner lowered his ERA from 6.42 to 5.93, and even though Santiago Casilla blew his fifth save of the year to take the win away from Lincecum, Timmy’s performance is what will be remembered from this game.
The shaggy-haired pitcher had great command of his fastball, and he had lots late movement on his pitches. Even though he didn’t always put the ball where Hector Sanchez put the glove, Lincecum was hard to hit, and his pitches went places where it was nearly impossible to hit the ball. Even though they were outside of the strike zone, Astros hitters were unable to resist the temptation of swinging.
That’s why Lincecum was able to strike out 11 batters.
On June 27, Lincecum looked almost as dominant as he was tonight, shutting out theLos Angeles Dodgers in seven great innings. However, he followed that start with two terrible ones, as he was charged with his ninth and 10th losses of the year.
Lincecum will try to avoid that when he pitches next against the Philadelphia Phillies, who have Ryan Howard and Chase Utley back from injuries. If he can pitch well against Philadelphia, I think it will be safe to say that he is back.
However, from what I saw today, I think he may already be back.
Like I said, Lincecum didn’t throw the ball where the glove was every time, but he did throw pitches that were very, very hard to hit. His pitches had late action, and it was nearly impossible for Astros hitters to resist swinging at a pitch thrown by Lincecum.
Lincecum got ahead of the count a lot by hitting the corners with his fastballs, then he threw changeups, sliders and curveballs to finish off hitters. If hitters made contact, they would either make weak contact or manage a single.
Even though Lincecum pitched against a weak offense and didn’t get the win, he seems to have his confidence back. He made his pitches when the pressure was on, and as a result, he struck out 11 and didn’t allow a run.
And that’s why one start has convinced me that Tim Lincecum will have a great second half.
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