Whistles while he works: Lincecum wins duel
Amid catcalls from Philly faithful, Giants ace gets best of Halladay
PHILADELPHIA -- On the mound, Tim Lincecum had a sufficient enough answer to Roy Halladay's counter. And after the Giants' 4-3 victory over the Phillies in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series, he offered an even better punch line for the Philadelphia fans.
Many of the 45,929 that packed Citizens Bank Park on Saturday night joined in a chorus of whistles each time Lincecum stepped to the plate. It was reminiscent of the way Philadelphians ridiculed hockey star Jaromir Jagr upon his visits to the city and appeared an attempt to poke fun at Lincecum's long-flowing locks.
Only, Lincecum enjoyed the last laugh.
Going against a pitcher who was unhittable in the Division Series, Lincecum picked up his second postseason win in as many chances while silencing a feisty Philadelphia crowd in the process.
Oh, and about those whistles?
"I was thinking, 'I must have a really nice butt,'" Lincecum said, "because there were a lot of them."
The one thing that surely trumped the number of mocking catcalls directed Lincecum's way was the anticipation for a postseason pitching matchup many dubbed the best in recent memory.
Lincecum didn't dominate or even especially dazzle. This was no double-digit strikeout performance, nor did it lead to the shattering of any club postseason records this time.
In fact, Lincecum allowed as many earned runs on Saturday night as the entire Giants' rotation gave up in its recent four-game NLDS matchup against Atlanta.
And yet, the San Francisco ace was good enough.
Freak fabulous once again
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"You try not to worry about what they've done in the past," Lincecum said of facing a Philadelphia offense that finished second in the league in runs scored. "You know what they're capable of and you just try to work off that. We're a team with a lot of confidence, a lot of swagger."
Funny, because Lincecum himself was described afterward by those same two words.
"He's confident," rookie catcher Buster Posey said. "He had that swagger before the game started that he knew he was going to be tough. This is a game of confidence, and when you get that going with as good as his skills are, it's going to be good."
Lincecum had his share of issues. The right-hander fell behind, 2-0, against eight of the first 14 Phillies hitters he faced and threw a first-pitch strike to just 12 of 29 batters in total. It took some time for Lincecum's changeup to turn nasty, while his slider never really became a go-to pitch all game.
And yet, he limited the damage to a pair of home runs that accounted for the only three runs the Phillies pushed across.
Timmy ties Gibby
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"I was erratic at times," said Lincecum, who strung together 11 straight scoreless innings before allowing a third-inning solo homer to Carlos Ruiz. "I don't think I ran into any easy innings there. It was a lot of work. You know when you come into Philly that you're going to run into a lot of obstacles with their fans and the hitters they're going to throw up there. That combo makes it a tough environment to pitch in."
The two-time defending Cy Young Award winner moved to 2-0 against the Phillies in 2010, though this marked Lincecum's first career win in four tries at Citizens Bank Park. His eight strikeouts pushed his two-start postseason total to 22 in 16 innings.
And then there's this: Lincecum remains unbeaten in a game in which he has received four or more runs of support. In 52 such outings, the 26-year-old is now 38-0.
"It's a gutty effort," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He got in some jams and made pitches when he had to. That's a tough lineup. I thought it was a great effort by him."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.