Tim Lincecum looked like vintage Tim Lincecum on Saturday night against the San Diego Padres.
It’s been a long time since Lincecum escaped the first inning in quick fashion, but on Saturday he needed just 12 pitches (nine strikess) to retire the side. Jumping to conclusions at this point with Lincecum pitching is risky. Since the beginning of 2012, there’s always one inning that chases him out of the game. Often times, that inning was the very first one.
But Saturday, Lincecum avoided the big inning. The score could’ve unraveled in the third inning when Chase Headley dug in with the bases loaded. The scored remained in the Giants’ favor, though. Despite allowing two singles and one walk, Lincecum made a good 3-1 pitch to Headley to induce a weak groundout to second base.
Lincecum struck out a season-high eight batters while allowing only two hits. More importantly, he walked only two batters.
Pablo Sandoval’s fourth inning two-run homer gave Lincecum a 2-0 cushion.
Bruce Bochy turned to his bullpen in the seventh inning when Lincecum allowed a single to Jesus Guzman and a walk to John Baker. Jose Mijares secured Lincecum’s lead by getting Mark Kotsay to fly out.
Lincecum did fall an out short of pitching seven innings, which might be a bigger deal than it seems. Lincecum last lasted seven innings on Aug. 10 against the Colorado Rockies. While we’re talking about past results, it should be noted that he pitched eight scoreless (one unearned run) against these same Padres on April 23, 2012.
The key for the two-time Cy Young award winner on Saturday was his command. He got ahead of hitters and his splitter was in mid-season form.