Lincecum lights-out vs. A's
Righty tosses second career shutout in Bay Bridge opener
SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants backers in Friday night's crowd at AT&T Park reveled in Tim Lincecum's excellence.They gave the right-hander a standing ovation when he returned to the dugout after the eighth inning, roared as he strode to the mound for the ninth, then rose once more in anticipation of the final out -- which Lincecum provided with a flourish as he struck out Rajai Davis.
But if anybody was more excited than the fans after the Giants' 3-0 Interleague triumph over the Oakland Athletics, it was Lincecum, who whirled off the mound and cocked his right hand in a triumphant fist after fanning Davis."Any number of things can get me pumped up," Lincecum said. He had plenty to savor as he recorded the second shutout and third complete game of his brief but already eventful career. Mainly, Lincecum (6-1) could feel pleased with himself. Displaying his Cy Young Award-winning form, he grew stronger as the brisk two-hour, two-minute game elapsed. Though he yielded seven hits, he retired 11 of the final 12 A's he faced. "He was throwing 95 [mph] in the ninth inning," A's manager Bob Geren said. "That speaks for itself." As effective as Lincecum's fastball was, he amassed most of his eight strikeouts with his changeup and often forged ahead on the count by flipping his curveball past hitters.
"With me, it's always a matter of rhythm, from when I start my motion to when I finish it," said Lincecum, who captured his sixth consecutive decision in a span of 10 starts. "Today it was just a little more second nature. Everything was kind of doing what I wanted it to, especially the changeup and the curveball."The ever-motivated Lincecum needed no extra incentive to thrive. But he did appreciate the sterling defensive support he received in the fourth inning. After Adam Kennedy bounced a leadoff single, Jack Cust doubled solidly off the right-center-field wall. Nate Schierholtz pounced on the carom. He threw the ball quickly and accurately to second baseman Emmanuel Burriss, whose relay flew on the fly to catcher Bengie Molina and beat a sliding Kennedy. "That really saved us," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. Everything went right for the Giants on the play, from the ball bounding sharply to Schierholtz to the blurry pegs he and Burriss made. "Nate got that ball pretty fast to me," Burriss said. "[Opponents are] always going to try to send the guy when the ball is hit in that part of the park. I figured I could get him. That's why I came up throwing the way I did." Said Lincecum, "That got me fired up and we fed off that." Lincecum certainly did. One inning later, his RBI single opened the scoring as the Giants generated all of their runs off Oakland rookie Vin Mazzaro, who entered the game unscored upon in 13 2/3 innings spanning his first two Major League starts. Mazzaro (2-1) no-hit San Francisco for four innings, but Pablo Sandoval opened the Giants' big fifth with a bunt single toward third base. Sandoval was among the Giants who noticed that A's third baseman Jack Hannahan was playing deep all night and aimed his bunt that way. Sandoval kept contributing with a hard slide into second base that prevented the A's from turning a double play on Juan Uribe's subsequent grounder. Schierholtz singled to center field. Burriss walked to load the bases before Lincecum singled cleanly to center on a sinking 2-1 fastball. "I'm sure that after two starts of not giving up a run, [Mazzaro] wasn't expecting the pitcher to break that up," Giants center fielder Aaron Rowand said. Lincecum said that stroking his hit was rewarding, "other than my thumb was killing me afterward. I really didn't make great contact with it, and he throws that sinker hard. ... I'm just hoping that what I'm swinging at is going to hit my bat." Rowand then grounded a single past shortstop, delivering Schierholtz and Burriss. This uprising helped the Giants break Oakland's seven-game winning streak at AT&T Park. San Francisco also improved to 19-9 at home and 26-4 when scoring first. But the most impressive numbers were the zeroes that Lincecum posted. Oakland catcher Landon Powell, who struck out twice, grounded into a double play and hit a comebacker while going 0-for-4, testified to this. "Honestly," Powell said, "I never had a clue what was coming."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.