When one of the best in the business struggles, we often wonder what the heck is going on, no matter how talented they are. Because he was some dominant in 2008, Lincecum was expected to be even better when the 2009 season began.
That wasn't exactly what the Cy Young winner did in his first two starts of the season, as he was struggling to find any kind of control. High pitch counts and early inning exits caused everybody to collectively scratch their heads at once with what was going on with San Francisco's newest golden boy.
We just had to keep reminding ourselves that this is Tim Lincecum.
During Lincecum's outing last weekend in San Diego, my phone was blowing up with people asking what was up with The Freak and it seemed as though every single time it was the same response.
"Just wait. He'll be fine."
It was not an issue with an injury or fatigue. It was simply an issue with mechanics. His last two starts in the spring were nothing special.
What was the problem that led to all this uproar in the first place, you may wonder?
The foot he lands on. That's right, Lincecum’s left foot. Not his release point being off...his front foot.
Instead of having his left foot land directly towards catcher Bengie Molina's target, it was a couple inches to the right side of the batter's box. Not exactly something you could immediately spot from your recliner.
Problem solved Saturday and instead of texts wondering what was going on with Lincecun, I was getting ones telling me (as if I didn't know already) that he was throwing a gem.
Lincecum not only tied a career-high with 13 strikeouts, but he also put to rest any talk of the league finally coming around on him.
His eight scoreless innings were a work of art. 74 of his 98 pitches were strikes, something that is incredibly hard to believe considering how he was battling control problems with his fastball to begin the season.
The most important thing though wasn't the strikeouts—it was that he didn't walk a single Diamondbacks hitter. He was just raring back and, seemingly with ease, blowing away any hitter that stepped to the plate.
His fastball command was spot-on, and his changeup was absolutely phenomenal.
It seems as though the little man has overcome his little slump.
Despite the no-decision and the Giants bullpen blowing the lead in ninth inning, having the ace back in form is the best news anybody could've heard. His success is so incredibly important to that of the club, having him back to being the Lincecum that won the Cy Young is priority No. 1.
Yet in the end, no matter how many people Lincecum strikes out, he won't be rewarded until the offense gets something.
Only one everyday player, Fred Lewis, is hitting above the .300 clip. Any kind of situational hitting seems to be absent. The offense scoring 19 runs in the opening series against Milwaukee was almost as shocking as Lincecum only going three innings on Opening Day.
Now, the Giants struggling to put two or three runs on the board is something that is going to happen on most days or nights. Having the pitching staff, starting with Lincecum, having their best stuff and putting in above-average performances means less clamoring from the fan-base.
And hey, if the Giants offense needs to get going, maybe a trip to the Bronx might do some good.
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