So let’s talk about Tim Lincecum. Of course we’re going to talk about Tim Lincecum, what the heck else would we talk about? His line tonight was pleasantly mediocre – two runs, one earned, in seven innings, with four hits, five walks, and six Ks. It looked like a very good Jonathan Sanchez game, in fact! Which is not really something we want to be the gold standard for Timmy, but these days, that’s promising.
Examining it a little more, there’s things to be optimistic about. The point was made by someone on Twitter earlier today – I forget whom, my apologies – that thus far this year Timmy’s been absolutely disintegrating with guys on base. Going into this game, the splits:
-Bases empty: .244/.320/.400
-Runners on base: .287/.400/.474
-Runners in scoring position: .344/.468/.574
All of which adds up to a 59% LOB, third worst in the majors among qualifying starting pitchers. Timmy has been pretty close to league average with the bases empty, but he’s been very bad with runners on and unspeakable as soon as they get to second. But I promised optimism! Tonight, Timmy kept his composure with runners on. He did well out of the stretch, and almost escaped a leadoff double unscathed, giving up an unearned run thanks to a bobble by Gregor Blanco. After 6, he was at only 93 pitches, and when Bochy sent him back out for the 7th he worked his way out of trouble despite eminently hittable stuff.
So while he wasn’t exactly the dominating Timmy of old, it looked more like a Bad Timmy game we’d have seen in 2008-2011 – an ace who can’t find his fastball but still manages to bear down, getting guys out with his name, as Bengie Molina said. An overamped D-Backs lineup helped him out a bit (thanks, Willie Bloomquist! You’re a pal!) but all in all, seeing Old Bad Timmy made me hopeful that Old Good Timmy is still in there somewhere.
Oh, the earned run came when Paul Goldschmidt homered again. Of course he did. Timmy should really start throwing some high and tight pitches to back him off the plate a little, or maybe just hit him because at least it’s not another inevitable friggin’ home run.
Anyway, think about Tim Lincecum showing incipient signs of being good, cause the rest of this game was festering crud. The offense consisted almost entirely of Gregor Blanco doing Gregor Blanco things, which is good but not enough when almost nobody can drive him in. Angel Pagan had a couple hits, and everyone else was varying degrees of feeble and lifeless. (Especially Brandon Belt. Suck it up and foul off some pitches, Brandon, they’re never gonna give you those borderline calls until you do.) The Giants had three significant scoring opportunities, and bunted their way out of one of them; Ian Kennedy has been struggling this year, but he’s still Ian Kennedy, and he did Ian Kennedy things to the Giants all evening.
This was a very 2011 Giants sort of game, complete with Steve Edlefsen being shoved out in the eighth inning like a blindfolded calf and throwing a bunch of meatballs to put the game out of easy reach. I know the bullpen is thin, but Steve Edlefsen just might not be the answer.
Oh well. Timmy had an okay game, a great game by the particular goalposts I set above, and that’s the story I’m sticking to. The 2012 Giants of Melky Cabrera and his Outfield Super-Friends have been doing pretty okay; that team (even with inevitable regression) with Pablo Sandoval and 75% of the real Tim Lincecum is absolutely a playoff contender.
Still above .500. Still above .500. Still above .500. Paul Goldschmidt must be destroyed. Still above .500.