The Braves are a great matchup for Tim Lincecum. They don't quite swing at everything, but they are, as a group, hitters that play into his hand quite well. In case you didn't know, they strike out a lot (#2 in all of baseball).
Now, Grant has reiterated that Lincecum's more of a thrower than a pitcher right now, so, it wouldn't be fair to say that he pitches the Braves better than other teams, but I think it's fair to say that his location mistakes have a better chance of sneaking past them on account of the changes in speed.
The pitch speed could have a lot to do with the game Posey called today. A slider up is not a great pitch unless it comes in a fastball count, or at least breaks away from a right handed hitter rather than feed right into the guy's power stroke. So, maybe today it's fair to say Lincecum was pitching and not throwing.
As has been the case for some time, Lincecum's velocity and "stuff" all looked good from the cheap seats, so it came down to command of his pitches and control of the strike zone. The first batter of the day, Jordan Schafer, started off the game with a 3-0 count on three high fastballs. Certainly, we could foresee that inning spinning out of control, but Lincecum managed to battle back and settle in.
And from there it was another stellar performance by the Giants' offense. Believe me, this continues to be just a constant shock to me. The Giants can hit! As a team! It's pretty cool, I must say.
But back to good ol' Timmy for a second: I don't mean to diminish his performance today. It's not simply that it was the Braves (again, a team that strikes out a lot and a team against which Lincecum has done well historically), it was a combination of consistency and, really, the game plan. Changing eye-lines, varying speeds, it was all working, and when it didn't work, Lincecum didn't runaway from the plan.
Just a fantastic job against a very good team and it was great to see Tim Lincecum give a vintage performance. Swinging strikeouts are always the best kind of strikeouts.
* * *
A few lasting images from the game:
Pablo Sandoval slid into second base high on Dan Uggla, who is made of bags of sand, apparently, because he was able to drop Sandoval and didn't look worse for wear. Certainly, it's debatable whether or not Sandoval should've slid in like that (it looks like Sandoval tried to shove Uggla), but let's for a moment admire how completely ridiculous a supine Sandoval looks.
Also, how ridiculous Sandoval looks when he collides with a teammate over a pop-up.
Of course, Pablo Sandoval is also really good.
And so are the Giants.
Though, you know, some of the fans are not so great when they do ridiculously stupid things like interfere with the ball. There's no excuse for leaning over the wall to grab at a ball. And what's with the people down the first and third base lines, for that matter? Do they not read the umps or the players reacting to the ball as it speeds up against the railing? Why do people do this? Come on, dummies, you weren't raised in a barn! Act like you've been in public before, or a baseball game for that matter! I imagine that's what Dawg's mother said to him after he was ejected from the game for interfering with Scutaro's double.
Thank you, Bruce Bochy, for putting George Kontos into the game. My single mother appreciated it.
Happy Mother's Day!