After two consecutive Giants’ losses, with the staff allowing 16 runs, Tim Lincecum, the Giants’ most effective starting pitcher this season, threw the entire Giants team on his back last night. And with a little help from Casey McGehee (GRAND SLAM), the G-men shut out the Miami Marlins 6-0.
By blanking the Marlins, the Giants’ staff has now shutout the opponent four of the past six games. Lincecum, the prodigal son and rejuvenated two-time Cy Young award winner, has truly come full circle. As his velocity has dipped over the years, he has struggled to transform into the pitcher he appears to finally have embraced. After repairing his relationship with his father over the past off-season, and working closely with him to correct his mechanics, it looks like Timmy is back. After six starts, his record now stands at 3-2 with a 2.00 ERA. Over 36 innings, Timmy has struck out 28, allowed 29 hits and walked 14. Opponents are batting just .228 against him this season, below his career average, and on par with his best years (2008-2011) when he won two Cy Young awards. Last night, Lincecum allowed just three hits and three walks, while striking out eight over six innings. Yes, Timmy is back.
The other big story of the evening was Casey McGehee’s return to the starting lineup. Manager Bruce Bochy chose to rest the struggling McGehee for three consecutive games, to supposedly help him to get his head right, while also allowing his leg to fully heal. This night was cast, as McGehee received his 2014 National League Comeback Player of the Year award pregame, with his family in the stands. The accolades foreshadowed a triumphant return for Casey, as he silenced his critics (many of them in the Giants’ fan base) with a grand slam in the second inning, the third of his career. This is what makes baseball such a beautiful game – from goat to hero, just like that. McGehee has struggled offensively this season and was clearly pressing as the criticism from the fan base escalated. His career results show that he’s a better hitter than what we’ve seen thus far. And last night he proved it, hitting the ball hard in all four at bats. Of course, he managed to hit into two double plays, just to keep the naysayers happy. But most players would take last night’s results any time: 2 for 4, a homerun, four RBI, a run scored and two double play outs. “If you let the tough times define who you are, that’s not how it should be,” Bochy said. “It should be all the good things. Because you are one of the best players in the world. You should appreciate that. Sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves.” There’s a lot of baseball left – hopefully, McGehee can keep it going, as the Giants’ sorely need his bat. As McGehee said afterwards, “The trick is doing it again tomorrow.”
Other offensive highlights included Buster Posey reaching base in all five plate appearances, going 2 for 2 with three walks, and three runs scored. Posey raised his average to .288 on the year. And while Nori Aoki has struggled over the past several games (3 for his last 21), he doubled in his final at bat, going 1 for 5 for the night. Brandon Belt continued his torrid hitting, going 4 for 5 with a run scored, while doubling for the sixth consecutive game. With a double today, he can tie the Giants’ franchise record of seven consecutive games. Belt is now hitting .308 on the year and .400 over his past 10 games. And right fielder Justin Maxwell continues to do a great job filling in for Hunter Pence, going 2 for 3 with two RBI and a run scored. Maxwell is now second on the team with 14 RBI. Despite these highlights, the offense still needs to become more effective as they were just 3 for 16 with runners in scoring position, leaving 11 men on base.
Tonight, the G-men go for two straight as ace Madison Bumgarner gets the start against Miami’s David Phelps. MadBum has faced The Fish just five times in his career, with a 1-2 record and 4.34 ERA. Phelps has never faced the Giants. At 15-15, the Giants still trail the first place Dodgers by 4 ½ games. A win tonight would be the seventh on this ten game home stand with the finale on Sunday.