noun / own – age / ‘ohn – ij
3. Tim Lincecum pitching against the San Diego Padres
Tim Lincecum entered last night’s game with an amazing stat line against San Diego over his previous 8 starts:
7-0 record, 2.01 ERA, two no hitters. The dominance continued last night as Timmy pitched 7 shutout innings, allowing just 4 hits and 3 walks, while striking out 5. Unfortunately, Padres’ starter Brandon Morrow, was equally effective, holding the Giants scoreless through 7 innings and the Giants’ offense could only muster 5 singles in a 1-0 loss.
Another one-run decision marks the fourth one-run game in the Giants’ first five. Yes, it does appear that Giants’ fans are headed for another year of torture. The good news is that the Giants’ starting pitching has proven to be better than expected, even without the injured Matt Cain and Jake Peavy. With the exception of Ryan Vogelsong, who has been moved back to the bullpen, the other four starters have allowed only one earned run, spanning 26 ⅓ innings. So with the strong start by Timmy and impending return of Cain and Peavy to the rotation, there’s reason to fell optimistic about this 2015 pitching staff.
On the offensive side, the Giants are clearly missing starters Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt, two guys expected to provide pop and production from the middle of the order. In the first two games here, San Diego has proven to be a formidable opponent, particularly with their strong pitching, allowing the Giants to score just one run in 18 innings. It’s certainly early, but these first two games foreshadow a three-way race for the National League West crown, between the Giants, Padres, and Dodgers, strictly based on the strength of their pitching staffs.
Both teams traded zeros last night until the bottom of the eighth inning. With Jeremy Affeldt on the mound, having replaced Lincecum to start the inning, Clint Barnes drew a walk with one out. The next batter, Will Myers, drove a pitch deep to right, over Gregor Blanco’s head, off of the right field wall. Blanco played the carom well, making a solid throw to second baseman Joe Panik. Panik made the catch and pivoted towards home for the relay, but his throw was about 10 feet up the third base line, allowing Barnes to score the Padres’ first and only run, which ended up being the difference in this one.
One last note on Timmy. Watching his transformation over the past few seasons, from dominant power pitcher to a guy who’s learning to rely more on control, off speed, and location, you can’t help but think of Greg Maddux. Even with two Cy Young awards, Timmy obviously has a long way to go to join the company of Hall of Famer Maddux. But with Timmy’s fastball velocity now flashing between 85-89, it does look like he’s finally starting to adapt to his new physical realities and learning how to pitch differently, effectively. If he continues to embrace this new style and can reduce his base on balls ratio , he could be an effective starter for many years to come.
The Giants send ace Madison Bumgarner to the hill tonight to face new Padres’ starter James Shields in a rematch of last year’s World Series match up. The two faced each other twice during last year’s series, and that worked out pretty well for the Giants, as they won their third World Championship in the past five seasons. A win tonight ensures a winning record on the Giants’ inaugural 2015 road trip.