IP: 5, K: 5, BB: 4, H: 6, ER: 4
“I think my prediction from last week was just one week too early. I think Lincecum over thinks this start by going with too many off speed-pitches on the first pitch and he gets into trouble early. While I think he will settle down, he cannot avoid the loss.”
IP: 7, K: 5, BB: 3, H: 6, ER: 0
I guess if things really do come in threes I would bet against my prediction for this Thursday because I have been completely wrong for the second start in a row. Lincecum did give up 6 hits again but made every big pitch when he needed to. The numbers do not reflect how efficient and effective this start was
Lincecum is quickly moving into the world of “best Giants pitcher since Juan Marichal” territory. Of course, he has some tough competition from some of the other past phenoms to come through the system – does William Vanlandingham ring a bell?
In this start, Lincecum did two things that showed maturity that we have not seen from him up until this point in his very brief career
1) He threw numerous 92 mph fastballs that were turned into double plays because the hitters were way out in front of the ball (Duncan, Molina and Washington). As far back as last Sunday, he would have gone for the strikeout over the ground ball. If he sticks with his old strategy, he only makes through 5 instead of 7.
2) He gave Pujols an unintentional, intentional walk in the 6th so he could pitch to the completely overmatched Ankiel – who flew out to left field.
To put this into context, Josh Beckett (despite winning a World Series in 2003) did not learn either of these two strategies until the 2006 season (he made his major league debut in 2001). If Lincecum starts to do either or both of things on a regular basis, someone might want to tell Webb and Peavey that their reign over the CY Young might be short-lived.
Of course, all of that could have happened on accident and Lincecum could be a 5 inning a start pitcher for the rest of the year. Only time will tell.
Grading His Performance:
Similar to what I did two weeks ago, I am going to focus on the negative because focusing on the positive would make this article 10 pages long. I think Lincecum – unofficially – threw 10 belt-high, right over the middle of the plate fastballs on Saturday and none of them were hit hard. There are two conclusions that can be reached from this fact.
A) The Cardinals went up there guessing and were not looking fastball when they got them.
B) Lincecum’s motion is so distracting/disceptive that batters just cannot pick up the pitch quick enough to get good wood on the ball.
I will go with choice B).
Three Things to Remember:
* The 1st Pitch
Here are Lincecum’s first pitch stats from Saturday’s game:
(He threw a first pitch strike to 15 of the 27 batters he faced – 55.6%)
First Pitch Strike
* Batting Average: .267
* Walks: 0
* Strike outs: 2
* On-base percentage: .267
First Pitch Ball
* Batting Average: .222
* Walks: 3
* Strike outs: 3
* On-base percentage: .556
Pujols was 0-2 with a strikeout and the strikeout came at the most crucial point in the entire game. Lincecum more than held his own against arguably the most dangerous hitter in baseball.
* Run Support
Run support, or lack thereof, will be the biggest topic of the season for the 2008 Giants. In Saturday’s game, the Giants offense did just enough to get the win and that is all you can ask. By giving Lincecum an early lead, the Giants were able to play with confidence and you could see it when Taschner, Walker and Wilson took the mound. None of them wanted to blow the lead for their ace.
Interesting Moment from Yesterday’s Game:
Did anyone notice what Lincecum did after he struck out Ankiel in the fourth inning!?
Let me set the stage for you:
Schumacker (also known as Skip “I don’t know what everyone sees in this kid because I own him” Schumacker) and Duncan started off the inning with back-to-back singles to bring up Pujols. As you know, Pujols misses a 3-2 curveball by a foot and strikes out but both batters advance on the ball in the dirt.
This brings us to what I like to call the “Sit on it” moment in the game.
So Ankiel gets up there with runners in scoring position and proceeds to strike out on 4 pitches including a wave at curveball that strikes him out. Ankiel slams his bat down and walks back to the dugout.
(Now, we all know that Lincecum shows little to no emotion when he is on the mound. As a result, we (everyone on the planet) have no idea what he is thinking.)
As Ankiel is walking back to the dugout, Lincecum is straddling the rubber waiting for the sign but his eyes are not on the catcher but on Ankiel. He proceeds to not look over at Ankiel once but TWICE. His entire body (including his head) did not move at all but his eyes could not help but look over at the Cardinals dugout. For the first time you could see what Lincecum was thinking: “Sit on it”
“Sit on it” = You just struck out and you are really mad about it but there is nothing you can do but sit on the bench and think about it.
From the Visiting Announcers:
I have decided to add a new section to this report that discusses what the other team’s announcers are saying about the Giants and/or their own team. Since I watch all Giants games on MLB Extra Innings, I do not always get the luxury of listening to Kruk and Kuip.
Let me just start off with saying the Cardinals television announcers are the worst in the league. The play-by-play guy and the color guy hate each other and they might actually be in separate rooms announcing the same game.
During the game they mentioned two things that were interesting:
1) They think Lincecum is a right-handed Sandy Koufax.
The color guy was very complimentary of Lincecum and they said numerous times that they thought he was the best young pitcher in the National League. Lincecum solidified his first two CY Young votes when he struck out Pujols in the 4th inning. At one point, I thought I was listening to the home broadcast because of all the compliments being thrown around.
2) They don’t understand why McGuire doesn’t come to spring training.
The play-by-play guy went as far as questioning why McGuire would not want to come to spring training to answer all the allegations surrounding his home run totals. Giants fans catch a lot of flack from other teams for our support of Bonds but the Cardinals announcers proved on Saturday that everyone is blind to the steroid users when the player is on your team.