And he did that and shut out the Astros through eight innings while striking out 11 batters. But then, another question came up: Would Lincecum prove that he has recovered from his terrible first half with a good start against the Phillies?
The answer? Yes.
Lincecum allowed just two runs in seven innings while striking out six in San Francisco's 7-2 win over Philadelphia. The two-time Cy Young winner lowered his ERA from 5.93 to 5.72 and picked up his fourth win of the season.
I thought Lincecum was officially back after his great start against the Astros. However, a lot of people disagreed. Now, it's safe to say that Lincecum convinced those people with his great start.
Timmy retired the first four batters of the game, with three of those batters going down by way of the strikeout. Lincecum had command of all of his pitches and he painted the corners throughout the game, often forcing hitters into making weak contact.
That's why Philadelphia only managed five hits against Lincecum.
Lincecum painted the corners and got ahead of the count early, which allowed him to throw pitches in the dirt or pitches on the corners in order to try to get a hitter to chase. Even though Lincecum only struck out six batters, his ability to get ahead of the count allowed him to jam hitters and force groundouts and flyouts.
A couple times, Lincecum threw the ball away from the target and way outside of the strike zone. Once, he left a pitch too far over the plate, and Ryan Howard hit it out for a home run. However, that was really the only mistake Lincecum made. Philadelphia had trouble making good contact off of him, since you need to have a perfect swing to make good contact off of a good pitch on the corner.
Now that Lincecum has done well against a lineup filled with talent, it's safe to say that he has recovered from his poor first half. Lincecum's incredible command of the fastball and ability to get ahead of the count got him through Saturday's start, which boosted his confidence.
Today's start was highlighted by Lincecum's accuracy and ability to get ahead of the count, and it helped to make sure that his confidence will be high for the rest of the year. The Freak finally did well on the road, and his great performance seems to have Giants fans convinced that he is ready to pitch in a playoff race.
As long as Lincecum continues to make his pitches and hit his target, expect him to continue his dominance. Pitch command has been key to Lincecum's success, and he kept hitters off-balance by mixing up his pitches and commanding every pitch. He knows what to do now, and he will do it.
And that's serious trouble for the other 15 National League teams.