Read the headline again. It's weird. Coors Field used to scare the absolute hell out of me. Still does, of course, but a lot of that is legacy terror. The Rockies haven't won a series against the Giants in Coors since May, 2011, and that was a two-game series. The Rockies haven't taken a three- or four-game series from the Giants in Coors since July, 2010. That was the series where Whiteside pinch-ran for Buster Posey in the 15-inning loss.
Look at the defeatism in the series preview back then! Coors Field still means something. It's still a haunted burial ground for hopes and dreams, in theory. But think of all the things that have happened since the Rockies won a three- or four-game series against the Giants in Coors. Madison Bumgarner was just a 20-year-old auditioning for Todd Wellemeyer's spot in the rotation. Buster Posey just took over the starting catching job. Denny Bautista got the only win for the Giants in that series.
Aaron Rowand was still a year away from leaving.
Everything's so different now. So much has happened. Posey was great, hurt, and reborn out of well-mannered fire and ash. Bumgarner is a known quantity. Bautista is an urban legend. Rowand is gone, and the guy who replaced him is gone.
Throughout all of that, the Rockies haven't won a series in Coors. Since the the Fourth of July series in 2010 -- when the Giants were clearly the worst team in the world, and they clearly weren't going to amount to anything, in no small part because they absolutely could not win at Coors Field -- the Giants have won seven series, lost a series, and split a series at Coors.
It's not time to get excited when you see a Coors series on the schedule. It's just weird how quickly these things can change, even if your perceptions don't.
It's possible that the Rockies being terrible has something to do with all of this.
The most frustrating Tim Lincecum games this year were the ones where he clearly had his stuff. He'd go behind the mound, opening up a glowing briefcase, and take out his stuff. Lo, it was beautiful stuff. And hitters on the other team would look foolish chasing it. Then, around the fourth inning, he'd allow 58 consecutive runners, give or take. It made no sense.
On Sunday, Lincecum did not have his stuff. He accidentally left his briefcase of stuff back at the hotel. He had his typical fastball, sure, but he didn't have an off-speed pitch at al. The sliders hung so high, hitters weren't even swinging. I had to check the speed on the TV to see if they were sliders or curveballs, because they looked like pitches Lincecum invented while he was screwing around in the bullpen.
Wonder what'd happen if I grabbed the ball with my pinkie and thumb and kind of, you know, wiggled my wrist when I let go? Huh … that's kind of interesting, I guess.
I'm not sure if it had to do with mechanics, or if it was something to do with the thin air. But it wasn't just the breaking balls, either -- Lincecum's change wasn't much of a pitch for him, either. According to FanGraphs, Lincecum gave up a line drive on almost half of the balls put in play against him today.
The most salient point from today, though: Lincecum allowed a single run. From a pure runs-allowed standpoint, this was Lincecum's fifth-best outing of the year out of 23 tries. This is why dorks look at things like batting average on balls in play, or FIP. No one watching Lincecum today, whether they were holding a radar gun or a TI-86, thought he looked good. Yeah, he allowed one run, but he had to grind to get it.
But pitchers have those games. It's part of pitching. Matt Cain has those games. Ryan Vogelsong has those games. It's not a slight to Lincecum to suggest he won without his good stuff and command today. Pitchers get to have those games.
Lincecum wasn't, though. That was the thing about the stretch of funkiness that Lincecum was going through this year: There weren't any breaks. There wasn't a game like this, when Lincecum deserved to give up more runs than he actually did. It always went the other way. It felt like a copout to suggest his high BABIP was "unlucky." It felt like blaming the wind gods for a bad crop of corn.
I'll say it now, though. Lincecum was unlucky. Or maybe a better way to put it was that he was completely devoid of luck. He was still walking the hitters, and he was still hanging the hittable pitches, so it's not as if he was blameless. It's not like an All-Star season was lost in the whirlpool of bad luck. But he shouldn't have been on pace to have one of the worst seasons by a starting pitcher in baseball history. He wasn't that bad, dammit.
And the difference between a disappointing season and a historically bad season was a complete absence of luck. Today, Lincecum was lucky. He's earned a half-dozen of these games this season, at least. It was good to see.