On Wednesday, Lincecum delivered another perplexing start in a season full of them.
It was going to be hard enough for the San Francisco Giants to hold off the surging Los Angeles Dodgers with Melky; without him, it might prove to be impossible.
Even worse, Wednesday was a reminder that the Giants have not only lost arguably their best hitter, they have also lost their best pitcher.
Tim Lincecum, the former ace of the staff, the former two-time Cy Young winner, the former playoff hero, has been a shell of himself all season.
Instead of being one of the game's elite aces, he now pitches more like a Todd Wellemeyer-type fifth starter most of the time.
Only six qualified starting pitchers in all of baseball have a worse ERA than Lincecum, and only two have thrown a quality start less often this season.
Wednesday afternoon, with one of their best hitters down for the year, the Giants needed their old ace to deliver once more.
Instead, he was knocked out after four more frustrating innings filled with poorly located pitches, deep counts, bad breaks and everything else that goes along with a complete collapse and frustrating fall from grace.
Less than 24 hours ago, it seemed that this would be another summer of Giants supremacy. With Melky, Posey, Pablo Sandoval, the newly acquired Hunter Pence and Marco Scutaro, plus the surging young Brandons—Belt and Crawford—the Giants finally had what appeared to be a good everyday lineup for the first time since they replaced Bengie Molina with Posey two summers ago.
Melky is now gone, and his Giants career may be over just as quickly as Carlos Beltran's was last year.
The old Timmy has been gone most of the season, and might never come back, though the Giants are obligated to pay him $22 million next year to find out.
Anything can happen in six weeks of baseball, but the smart money is no longer on the Giants. Instead of feeling like the 2010 World Series season, this year now feels like last summer all over again.
The loss of Cabrera significantly weakens the lineup. However, Wednesday was a cruel reminder that the most important loss this season has been that of the former staff ace.
Melky Cabrera won't be back to help the Giants this year. More importantly, Wednesday afternoon was a clear sign that the former Cy Young version of Tim Lincecum won't be coming back to help the Giants this year, either.
For a team that rode its brilliant pitching staff to the promised land two summers ago, the fall of Lincecum exceeds the sudden loss of Cabrera.