The former long-haired flame-thrower has officially reinvented himself to the point of becoming a dominant starting pitcher for the second time in his big league career. The City’s fan favorite has his swag back to couple with his sweaty brown locks. There is no doubt that Tim Lincecum has re-established himself as the San Francisco Giants‘ ace.
The Giants have stared down the countdown to “rock bottom” for back-to-back seasons. Like a solid number of ball clubs, the Giants have endured roster-crippling injuries that have challenged team morale, but nobody has instilled more optimism into San Francisco’s clubhouse than “The Freak.”
Lincecum continued his current streak of dominance in opposition of the last-place Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday night, perfectly spotting his pitches with ease. His fastball touched 93 mph at times while his slider and change-up kept hitters off balance. His new found ability to effectively mix pitches on different parts of the plate is what now makes him especially difficult to hit. Lincecum plowed through the D’Backs’ anemic offense, allowing just three hits and two walks with six strikeouts in seven shutout innings.
It was vintage Lincecum, an occurrence suddenly on display every fifth day.
The two-time Cy Young Award winner won’t be in action for the 85th MLB All-Star Game in Minneapolis on Tuesday night, but his past four starts have been exceptionally worthy of recognition. He’s allowed just one earned run on 10 hits with 24 strikeouts over 30.1 innings. His ERA has dissolved from 4.90 to 3.66 while his win total has escalated to nine, good enough for a share of the team lead with Madison Bumgarner, the Giants’ Opening Day starter.
The Giants need as much help from Lincecum as they can get right now. Mired in a ghastly 9-21 skid over the past five weeks, San Francisco has witnessed its 9.5-game NL West edge over the arch-rival Los Angeles Dodgers evaporate. If it weren’t for Lincecum legitimately spinning no-hit stuff toward opposing hitters, it wouldn’t be far-fetched for the Giants to have sunk into the possibility of becoming sellers at the trade deadline by this juncture.
Lincecum’s fiery methods burn energy into his teammates. It felt like the Giants were going to shred the D’Backs after Lincecum sent down Arizona in short order to start the game. The two biggest outs of the contest arguably happened in the top of the first inning when Lincecum struck out Aaron Hill on three pitches and later forced All-Star slugger Paul Goldschmidt to innocently fly out to right.
Entering the game, Hill had posted a gaudy .579 batting average with 11 hits, including four doubles, and four RBI in 19 career at-bats against “The Freak.” Goldschmidt typically takes cuts off Lincecum like he would during batting practice, smashing seven home runs to help drive in 17 runs on 15 career hits in just 29 at-bats before tonight.
Neither D’Back was able to touch the 170-pound hurler on Orange Friday.
Lincecum was up for the challenge from the get-go, leading his team to a much needed 5-0 win to put them in position to reclaim first place by mere percentage points over the Dodgers in the West. It wasn’t just about the win for the Giants, though, it was about what it stood for. Lincecum has been dominant for nearly an entire month. That hasn’t happened since 2011.
“The Freak” is back.