Real rough one for Tim Lincecum on Tuesday. The man was absolutely superb for eight innings against the Chicago Cubs, striking out seven and being as consistently dominant as he’s been since coming up. Clearly, the kid was seriously dialed in, as many of the game’s best tend to be when they’re inspired more than usual, and Lincecum likely was, because he’d just endured a death in his family.
Anyway, it then fell apart for him in the final inning. Now, two thoughts jump to mind regarding this.
No. 1: Manager Bruce Bochy could have chosen to go with a reliever in the ninth inning. Seems like it would’ve been a perfect time to test Brian Wilson, especially since he’s a guy who has closer’s stuff and who figures to play in the Giants’ future. If the final six weeks are about auditions, then why not audition Wilson, and see how he handles a 1-0 lead in the ninth. Sure, Lincecum had thrown only 88 pitches, but heck, the Minnesota Twins took out Johan Santana in a 1-0 game after eight innings Sunday, and he had struck out 17.
No. 2: Lincecum deserved to pitch the ninth inning, because a) he was the best pitcher the Giants had at the time (Wilson had pitched Monday in Florida and Brad Hennessey pitched three times in three days in that series) and b) he’s gonna have to learn to pitch the ninth inning with a one-run lead if he ever expects to be in a league with Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson and the other greats. The ending may not have worked out, but this is a guarantee: The next time Lincecum gets to the ninth inning with a one-run lead and so few pitches, he’ll be much more equipped to close it out.
Would’ve loved to have heard from Lincecum, but he chose not talk to the media. Normally, this would set off a red flag for me, because pitchers who do that are not being accountable. But in this case, I think Lincecum is justified. Who knows how he felt emotionally? Besides, Lincecum already has shown that he’s very accountable for his performances, and he’ll likely address the start today.
Anyway, anybody who witnessed this game felt terrible for the kid after it was over, but in the long term, it will make him better. Nobody said the maturation process is without pain.