Tim Lincecum and the San Francisco Giants took on Clayton Mortenson and the Colorado Rockies on Monday night. The game was the start to a quick two-game series in Denver, which has the potential to give one of the two teams a small boost to top the NL West.
After the Giants 7-4 loss in which Lincecum did not continue his recent dominance, the defending world champs shrunk their lead to a half a game at the top of the division.
Lincecum gave up seven runs on six walks and nine hits. He struck out only three with a high ratio of balls to strikes, and 118 pitches in five and two-thirds innings. The performance was not typical of the two-time Cy Young award winning righty.
We have seen the ace struggle before. During his 0-5 skid last August, he posted a 7.82 ERA—before going undefeated in September to catapult the Giants to the division title. His stuff simply was not there tonight. He never established his secondary pitches—the changeup, slider and curveball. The fastball velocity was there, hitting 95 mph, but the command was not.
Meanwhile the Giants took a one-run lead after Miguel Tejada doubled and was able to score on a wild pitch. However the Giants' offensive woes continued and they gave Colorado easy outs. Sinker-ball pitcher Clayton Mortenson helped them to ground into four double plays.
Lincecum was able to keep the Rockies scoreless through four innings, before opening up the fifth by giving up a leadoff walk to the opposing pitcher. He showed disagreement with several of the home plate umpires calls, and the Rockies offense was triggered as they took a 2-1 lead.
In the top of the sixth inning, the Giants relied on long balls as leadoff hitter Andres Torres blasted a line drive home run to the right field bleachers and Nate Shierholtz followed with a two-out, two-run blast to give San Francisco a 4-2 lead.
The lead did not last long as the Rockies tied it up off of a Seth Smith solo shot and a couple of base hits. Lincecum then made a throwing error after a bouncing come-backer to the mound. The error could have been a bases-clearing double-play ball.
This proved to be costly, as the 2010 National League batting champion, Carlos Gonzales, stepped into the batters box. He jacked a two-ball, two-strike sinker to straight away center field for a three-run homer that put the Rockies up, 7-4.
The Rockies had gone 3-7 in their last 10 games while the Giants were 7-3, including an undefeated home stand and a sweep of Colorado one week prior.
Tim Lincecum extended his scoreless inning streak to 21 in the fourth inning tonight before surrendering the lead. It seemed as if his focus and mechanics just were not there tonight, possibly the unexpected negative result of an extra day off his regular schedule due to the rain-out in Chicago Sunday morning.
For Giants fan days, when Lincecum starts, it’s “Win Day,” and it comes as a surprise when the win does not pull through. However, he has started out the season dominant with a solid 2.36 ERA—Giants fans don’t have anything to worry about. After all, as Giants’ broadcaster Duane Kuiper said during the post-game show, “He’s human.”