That first inning … man. Who was thinking good thoughts? Show of hands. Who was thinking, yeah, everything's going to click into place for ol' Timmy?
The word that kept popping into my head was "broken." I'm so cute and glib and stupid at my day job when it comes to the youngish starters on other teams. This Orioles pitcher is broken! This Blue Jays pitcher is broken! Tee hee! LOL! Young pitchers are like baby turtles, crawling to the open sea!
When it's the guy I like, though, it's not funny. It's not funny at all. And in the first inning, I was watching what I thought was a broken pitcher. Velocity was down, which doesn't bother me in that end-of-the-world kind of way, but when it's paired with … with Russ Ortiz-like command, well, no sir, I am not a fan. Nope, nope, nope.
Two walks and a hit-by-pitch before most of the crowd sat down. It looked like a Mota game. It looked like a Mota game before the sixth inning. And I'd never seen Lincecum be wild quite like that before -- pitches diving to the third-base side of the plate. In the second, he was a little better, but still wild enough to walk two.
And then after that, he was cool. Better than cool. Perfect. For three innings, he was more or less the Lincecum we know and love. Which makes this a completely non-illuminating outing. Is he broken? Is he fine? Is he just a little off with his mechanics? Is there a delicate, Rube Goldberg mechanism inside his shoulder that's still 18 steps from completion? I don't know. Which is better than definitively broken. But still a little weird. I'm still waiting for that Lincecum game like Game 1 of the NLDS, where he makes baseball players look like cricket players, but instead of a bat they're holding a sliver of their broken hopes and dreams.
Until then, it's another game where you can hold a hope that he'll figure out he's planting his foot 1/8th of a second late, correct it, and make everything perfect for his next outing. He only has about 46 more of these before I start to doubt him.
The rally that put the Brewers over the top featured two infield singles, a sac fly, and a regular single. The regular single came with two outs. Oh, come on. That's not fair. Singles with runners in scoring position and two outs have been prohibited since the Hague Convention of 1907. The Giants are playing fair. Everyone else is being a jerk about it.
Sergio Romo has walked three this year in seven innings after walking five in 48 innings last year. He's also hung about as many sliders this year as he did last year. The RBI single to Aramis Ramirez came on a sinker that was off the plate and in, so that doesn't qualify as a hanger, but he's still not the same Romo that I remember last year. Maybe that's because he's thrown seven innings, which is well within "Whooooops, hold on. Now I've got it." territory.
Still, it's worth remembering how spoiled we were last year. I'd like to be that spoiled again.
Right after the game ended, Mike Krukow said, "You have to hand it to the offense."
They scored four runs.
But the worst part is that I knew what he meant. Tonight felt like, yeah, four runs! They came back! Eat it, Brewers! That's a steamroller of offense, and y'all better just lay down and get squished like Judge Doom if you know what's good for you. Four runs! Is it 1928 again? Is everybody getting zozzled at a speakeasy and dancing the Charleston atop a flagpole? Are we in Coors Field? Is this one o' them "rabbit balls" that we've heard of?
This feeling is the priapism of baseball lineups. If this lasts for more than four weeks, we should probably get it checked out. Normal teams can score four runs. The Brewers scored six. They were starting Travis Ishikawa. It can be done. In theory.
But this loss is easier to take than the last three, at least for me. Someone mentioned Stockholm Syndrome in the comments recently. Ayup. That's what this is.
Say, you know who looked comfortable tonight? Brandon Belt. That doesn't mean that he was perfect tonight, and that doesn't mean that he didn't get his fifth or sixth absolute doink of the year to boost his average. But he looked like the Belt we were expecting -- working the count, not diving at first-pitch breaking balls like some sort of rabid Marquis Grissom. He's hitting .294/.379/.392 right now, though he hasn't been quite as good as the average and OBP would suggest. Again, the doinks. But you know what he hasn't been? An abject disaster, which is what his reputation has been among the Yahoo!/Facebook crowd.
There should be a term for the general commenters of the Internet world. Youtubians. Capslockites.
I'm not saying that Belt has earned a starting job in the mind of Bochy. The eight-inning at-bat was kind of rotten. But he doesn't look like a player who's worrying about the weight of the world when he's up there; he looks like a hitter who's worrying about the pitcher. That's kind of the point. It's a positive step. And we'll take positive thoughts in a four-game losing streak.
Though you don't have to look too far for positive signs. Four runs!