If you aren't into Tim Lincecum or game-by-game pitching, don't read this.
Very strange outing by Tim Lincecum last night, his very first game as a reliever since his junior year of college.
Both the Dodgers and Giants pulled their starting pitchers when weather made it appear there was a good chance that early on in last night's game the rains would come and wash the game out, forcing it to be replayed today. Seemingly by the boards went an intriguing matchup of exciting young 23-year-olds Chad Billingsley and Lincecum.
After three scoreless innings, it appeared that the ball game would indeed become official, so both Billingsley and Lincecum were brought in in relief. They weren't so much reluctant starters as merely late ones.
Lincecum proceeded to walk Russell Martin on four 97 and 98 mph fastballs. After striking out Andre Ethier with an 86 mph change, it appeared he had struck out Kent on a high outside 97 mph fastball on which Kent didn't seem to have held up. But the appeal was denied, and after Kent fouled off a change up and two fastballs, Lincecum walked him on a low inside change up.
Andruw Jones then hit a potential double play ball, but inexperienced Giants second baseman Eugenio Velez made a poor relay on what would have been a close play no matter what, leaving runners on first and third with two outs.
James Loney then flared a low outside change up down the left field line for a single that put the Dodgers ahead 1-0. Matt Kemp ended the inning by hitting a 95 mph fastball to deep center for the final out.
The Giants tied the score while the rain continued to fall, and the umpires had the tarp brought out.
After a 74-minute rain delay, Billingham was replaced, but the Giants gambled that the looseness of Lincecum could allow him to remain in the game. And while Lincecum continued to struggle with his control, he held the Dodgers at bay before being replaced after the seventh inning. Lincecum himself singled and scored the go-ahead run, garnering his first relief win, 2-1, as Brian Wilson notched the save by recording the game's final four outs.
Despite walking four hitters in four innings, Lincecum threw a better-than-average 64% strikes. As is often the case, he had spurts of wildness, but generally threw strikes after three balls. Unfortunately, despite four strikeouts, he wasn't finishing batters as well as usual (as 23 foul balls on 84 pitches would clearly indicate).
So here is the good, the bad and the ugly.
The good: Only one ball (a line shot double to right center by Loney) was hit hard off Lincecum. He had four strikeouts and missed a fifth on Kent by the slightest of fractions on a checked swing. Six of his eight non-strikeouts outs were on the ground.
The bad: He walked the first batter he faced and allowed the leadoff hitter in each of his four innnings to reach. Four walks in four innings may be symmetrical, but it certainly isn't good.
The ugly: The weather -- and Tim 's being brought back into it after the 74-minute delay. Tim may not have handled the inclement weather as well as he did in his five-inning no-hit tuneup last Friday night, but he seemed to suffer no ill effects from the delay. In the game's final inning, he brought back his curve ball, which he hadn't used until then in either of his last two appearances -- instead relying primarily on fastballs and change ups, with an occasional slider thrown in. I'm not sure why Tim disdained use of what was considered coming out of college to be his best pitch, but he was again effective with it when he brought it out.
In summary, weird night -- all the way from the strange weather and pre-game removal of both starters to Tim's being brought back after the long rain delay to his actually scoring the winning run after just his fourth career hit.