Post-game Recap: Tim Lincecum Ruins Perfect Game, Brandon Belt Ruins Everything Else

Tim Lincecum

photo by Dirk Hansen/Flickr

There was a part of me – a morose, miserable little part – that was already warming up for getting perfecto’d by the Padres. There but for the grace of Eli Whiteside went the Giants once before, so of course with the New Improved Offense, against, uh, some guy, why not? After the first three innings (23 pitches!) I was starting to think about it. It would’ve been ugly, but maybe it would be the spark the offense needed.

As it turned out, the spark the offense needed was an infield single by Tim Lincecum. And if that had been it for the Giants – if he’d been the James McDonald to Anthony Bass’s Matt Cain – I could have lived with that. I wouldn’t have been happy about it, but the Eternal Hunger of the Narrative would have been placated for one more day. Tim Lincecum has his first good start of the season, gives up no earned runs, and loses because he is the only baserunner for his team. It makes so much sense.

The Narrative would’ve liked it more if it’d happened in a game where Timmy was dominating, though. Timmy wasn’t dominating. His fastball was floating around 88-89 MPH by the third inning. That’s…that’s terrifying. Tim Lincecum has proven that he can live at 91 MPH, with command, nasty sliders, and the Magical Disappearing Changeup. 88 MPH borders on the Zitonian, and he was laboring in that twilight zone for most of the game.

The counterpoint to that, though, is that Timmy and his awful fastball had the Padres off-balance all night, flailing at curveballs and blinking at wobbly four-seamers that sailed right into the outside corner. They made be the Padres, but they’re a major league lineup, and against them Tim Lincecum went eight innings and gave up zero runs. Whatever the context, that’s promising. Timmy’s velocity could come back and he could reassert himself. He could learn to live in the high 80s with pinpoint control and filthy breaking balls. He could master a two-seamer. He could reinvent himself as a sinkerballer. He could climb a mountain for a meditative conference with R.A. Dickey and throw knuckleballs into his late forties, looking like Jimmie Dale Gilmore. Who knows? Tim Lincecum is too weird to live and too rare to die.

I’d sure feel better if he could throw 90+ MPH for a whole start, though.

Anyway, now that I’ve got that out of the way, the good stuff: Brandon Belt, Brandon Belt, Brandon Belt, some Melky Cabrera, a little Santiago Casilla, and sadly no Pablo Sandoval (who really looked anxious up there tonight, so maybe it’s for the best). But mostly Brandon Belt. The nerds love him. Now the KNBR callers have a reason to love him. He got a hit with 2 outs and runners on, which is the first time the Giants have accomplished that feat since Ray Durham, and he even catapulted Timmy to a richly deserved win by doing so.

Apparently Bruce Bochy implied on the postgame that he’d be starting Brett Pill tomorrow. Okay. Whatever. I’m honestly too jazzed to get annoyed about that, or Timmy pitching the 8th with Romo available, or really most things. Belt’s going to force his way into this lineup. He is a man on a mission, a gawky crusader with an ever-shrinking hole in his swing, and he will not be stopped until he has claimed first base for his own, no matter how many innocent baseballs must be murdered.

Madison Bumgarner goes tomorrow. Win the series, please. It’s April and I’ve already had enough of the Padres.

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