As early as a year ago, if the Giants were mired in a losing streak, it was Tim Lincecum’s (5-11) job as the ace of the staff to go out and do what all No. 1 pitchers are expected to do: be the stopper.
Tuesday night at AT&T Park, that’s exactly what Lincecum did, as he threw seven strong innings of one-run ball to earn his fifth victory of the season as the Giants beat the Mets, 4-1.
Lincecum started the game a little shaky, as many of the outs he recorded in the first few frames were hard-hit balls, two of them line drives that were smoked right at Melky Cabrera and Gregor Blanco in left and center field.
After allowing a run on a single and a double in the top of the second inning, both hard-hit balls that were fastballs left over the middle of the plate, Lincecum settled down and did a much better job locating his fastball.
“Besides the second inning, everything else went well,” Lincecum said after the game. “Buster [Posey] and I had a good connection going and a good understanding of what we wanted to do up there. We stuck with that and tried to stay aggressive.”
Lincecum’s biggest out of the night was his last, as David Wright came up as a pinch hitter with bases loaded and two out in the top of the seventh. After fouling a couple of pitches straight back, Lincecum dropped a 2-and-2 curveball at the knees, striking Wright out looking to end the inning.
When asked about throwing the curveball in that situation, Timmy said, “I knew I kind of wanted to go to it just because I hadn’t used it all that much. It’s one of those freeze pitches, especially if a hitter hasn’t been seeing it all game.”
While a lot of the buzz around the stadium was about the big move the Giants made earlier that day, acquiring Hunter Pence from Philadelphia, much of the offense on Tuesday evening was provided by the player they acquired three days ago.
Marco Scutaro, batting in the fifth hole for the first time as a Giant, went 2-for-3 with a double, an RBI and a run scored. He also made some nice defensive plays, including the final out of the ballgame.
Manager Bruce Bochy commented after the game about how quickly Scutaro has made an impact on this team.
“He’s played well. He hasn’t played a lot of third base, it’s been awhile since 2008 and even that last ground ball, he threw it and you could see water coming off of it.”
Bochy continued, “He gives you a professional at-bat. He’s got a good eye at the plate, and he finds a way to make good contact. He’s been around, he knows what he’s doing out there...he has a plan and he threw out some good at-bats there tonight.”
The win snaps a season-high five-game losing streak, and with the Dodgers loss, puts the Giants back in sole possession of first place.
The Giants send their ace Matt Cain (10-3) to the mound for Game 3 of the series Wednesday night against Jonathon Niese (7-5) for the Mets. It should be Hunter Pence’s first game starting for San Francisco since the Giants traded Nate Schierholtz and minor leaguers Tommy Joseph and Seth Rosin to the Phillies for the All-Star outfielder.
Bochy said before the game that Pence would probably bat fifth for now, and then he would re-evaluate when Pablo Sandoval comes off the disabled list. The Giants manager also said Pence would be his right fielder and Angel Pagan, Gregor Blanco and Justian Christian would mix and match in center field.
“How they play will dictate how much they play. That’s usually the case with guys who are struggling a little bit," he said.
As expected, the first thing Bochy commented on was his new slugger, who is now the Giants leader in home runs by four with 17.
“[I’m] very excited, I know Hunter, and he’s excited about coming here to help us out...[he] gives us another bat in the heart of the order, which is something we need.”
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.