The Giants, all muscle on Mother’s Day, pounded the Atlanta Braves with three solo homers– a splash hit homer into McCovey Cove from Pablo Sandoval, and long-balls to left from Brandon Belt, and Marco Scutaro.
It was just the lift Giants starter Tim Lincecum needed to provide 7 innings of shut-out baseball, as the Giants beat the Braves 5-1, winning three games in the four-game series.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Lincecum “was on top of his game,” keeping the ball down with effective use of his secondary pitches.
“Today he had great focus,” said Bochy. “That’s when he’s at his best when he has his concentration on every pitch, and today I thought he did. He didn’t drop his guard at all when he got ahead in the count. He just pitched. Every pitched. He and Buster worked great together.”
I asked Lincecum in the locker-room about that “focus” Bochy talked about.
OK, his best game this year. But, still, as Lincecum said, he’s “not jumping up in the air right now.”
A bit more consistency is needed before we can all joyously proclaim the Lincecum of old is back.
At the start of the game, as Lincecum took the mound, he greeted an older woman, part of the Strike Out Cancer Day ceremonies, with a warm hug and signed her baseball.
Then, as Lincecum has in previous starts, he began to labor—almost like a mother.
In the first inning, he threw as many balls as strikes (nine each) and got into trouble with a runner in scoring position. He settled down to strike out Justin Upton. But then Freddie Freeman drew out a 7-pitch at- bat before flying out to right.
The questions began: Would we see the good Lincecum or bad one today? Would he have that one infamously bad inning?
In the third, the Braves threatened again. Jordan Schafer took Lincecum to a 3-1 count before singling. He stole second and went to third on a grounder. Lincecum then walked the dangerous Brian McCann on 4 straight pitches.
With runners on 1 and 3rd, Lincecum showed his wildness by throwing two more balls out of the zone to the next batter, clean-up hitter Justin Upton. Then Lincecum settled down, and with his fast-ball got Upton to fly-out to right.
From then on, Lincecum cruised with “three-up/three-down” innings in the 4th, 5th, and 6th. The seventh was marred by an inconsequential walk. In all, he threw 111 pitches, 65 of them strikes. In pitching shut-out ball, he gave up just two hits, struck out seven and issued three walks.
Lincecum seemed to relax once the offense got going. Belt’s solo blast in the second was just a hint of what was to come. Then came Sandoval’s splash homer in the third. Crawford knocked in a run in the fourth. In the fifth, the Scutaro homer and a ground-rule double from Gregor Blanco added two more runs to complete the scoring.
On this Mother’s Day, there were no bad innings for the Giants at bat, or for Lincecum on the mound.
The seventh win in this 10-game homestand showed Eastern Division leading Atlanta that it’s no fluke the Giants are first place in the West.