Tim Lincecum needed to show something positive on Thursday night against the Oakland A’s. It wasn’t necessarily a requirement, but his previous four spring training starts didn’t produce the results that the Giants wanted to see (10.97 ERA in 10.2 innings).
Yes, this is still spring training. Yes, Lincecum is traditionally bad in spring training. Still, 2012 was a season that he and the Giants would certainly like to put in the rearview mirror. So, a solid outing on Thursday night would’ve been a step in the right direction, especially as tune-up for his first regular season start of the year next week.
His outing in one word? “Meh.” He wasn’t awful, but at the same time, he wasn’t great.
Lincecum allowed five earned runs in 4.2 innings. He struck out six batters and only walked one, but towards the backend of those 4.2 innings, his location became a bit spotty, but he was effcient.
Velocity-wise, well, he didn’t stray from the low 90s. By the third inning, he consistently sat in the high 80s to low 90s with his fastball, which is likely what you’ll see from him this year.
Early on, Lincecum’s location was extremely sharp, especially his breaking pitches. There was perhaps one mistake that he made. Yoenis Cespedes, and his sheer strength, hit a fastball on the outside part of the plate out of the park in the fourth inning. It wasn’t a bad pitch by Lincecum, per se, but he did leave the ball a tad too high in the zone for Cespedes–emphasis on Cespedes.
Eric Sogard hit a blooper off Lincecum into center field to score John Jaso in the top of the fifth inning. There wasn’t much Lincecum could do about the third run. Sogard simply placed it where the Giants’ defense wasn’t. It happens–a lot.
A seven-pitch at-bat from Jed Lowrie, which resulted in walk, chased Lincecum from the game with two outs in the fourth.
Lincecum was summoned for Jeremy Affeldt, who entered the game with two runners on base–Tommy Milone reached on a force out. Affeldt proceeded to leave a changeup up in the zone to Josh Redick, who on cue, hit a home run, which made the score 6-2.
The Giants’ bats were relatively quiet. Buster Posey singled home a run in the third inning on a line drive to center field.
But the louder knock of the night came off Brandon Crawford’s bat. The emerging shortstop crushed a changeup into “Triples Alley” during the fourth inning, and nevertheless, he easily reached third base and also knocked in a run in the process.
Entering Thursday’s exhibition game, Crawford had a slash of .357/.413/.554. He has clearly made some adjustments to his swing, and it’s producing results. If Crawford can improve his approach against off-speed pitches, he might have one of those breakout years.
The A’s padded their lead in the sixth inning. Sogard, amidst the action again, dropped down a bunt that, well, had Posey debating whether to even come close to the plate. Brandon Belt fielded the ball cleanly and made a nifty underhand toss to Posey. But wisely, Posey was a good two or so steps off the plate, thus causing him to miss the swipe tag. With the run, the A’s notched the score to 7-2.
The Giants got that run back in the bottom of the ninth inning with Joaquin Arias’ RBI double to score Belt, who reached on a double.