Lincecum pitches best game in months, Giants win 4-2

Jason O. Watson

Tyler Colvin's home run hasn't landed yet.

This is year three of the Tim Lincecum who doesn’t win awards. He’s made 73 regular-season starts since the start of the 2012, and by a rough count, about 10 of those have been unambiguously fantastic. We’re talking games without bushels of stray walks or runners, games where you don’t have to use the word “but.” Like this one against the Brewers last year.

The other 63 games have had something to nitpick, small or large. That mass of 63 starts — ranging from “okay, I guess” to “chemical burn” — is why you were muttering shameful, hurtful things under your breath after Lincecum walked the leadoff hitter in the first inning. You’re expecting bad things now. Timsay Snow has rewired your brain over the last two-plus years.

Except this was one of the good ones. A pure, whiff-filled masterpiece. And even though the other group has the numbers, the unambiguously fantastic starts have charisma and a silver tongue. They’re telling you everything you want to hear. You want to believe. They’re so, so, so very seductive. You forget yourself. You forget why you were upset in the first place. You want to believe the old, award-winning Timmy is back.

That setup is a false dichotomy, though. This isn’t a war between the old Lincecum and a William VanLandingham symbiote that took over his mind. There are shades of gray between the two extremes, and all the Giants want — and all the advanced statistics have suggested they should have — is a pitcher who’s just a little better at preventing runs than he’s been. Instead of every seven outings, maybe Lincecum has one of these starts every six. Instead of having a complete meltdown every four starts, maybe he has one every five. In between, he’s sprinkling more six-inning, two-run starts around, replacing the five-inning, three-run starts.

That’s what a Lincecum renaissance is going to look like. He isn’t going to burst out of the ashes and be the Cy Young winner. But there’s evidence — both eyeball and spreadsheet — to suggest he can be better than he's been. Monday night had plenty of that evidence. I liked the part where the Braves swung and missed. 

★★★

Lincecum's probable line if he faced the Atlanta Braves for 32 starts every year: 2.83 ERA, 213 IP, 78 BB, 228 K. They're just about the perfect matchup for him at this stage in his career, a team that hits like the breaking ball hasn't been invented yet. Teach your wild, hacking ways to the Padres and Rockies, good sirs. Tell them the secrets of hitting. 

★★★

Bruce Bochy didn’t bunt Tyler Colvin in the seventh inning.

You might not care to give Bochy credit for anything, especially something that should be covered in the first week of a sabermetrics class, but there were a lot of managers who would have told the new guy to bunt with runners on first and second with no outs. And if Colvin didn't rip a triple down the line, there would have been callers all over the talk radios, waiting to yell at a Bochy effigy for not yielding to the small-ball situation with which he was presented. 

The dinger didn't hurt Colvin's case, of course. But remember how anti-bunt Bochy is when he's making you mad about something else. He's a smart feller, and he's gloriously anti-bunt. Most of the time. It paid off today with a two-run double to put the game mostly out of reach.

Colvin is more likely to be a good player than Hicks is. Heck, Colvin has better odds of sticking around than Angel Pagan or Michael Morse ever did. He can whomp a dinger, alright. Tyler Colvin can whomp a dinger.

★★★

Javier Lopez pitched his 250th game as a Giant, putting him 23rd on the all-time list for San Francisco. He allowed just his third homer in 154 innings. 

Next up on the list: Tim Worrell. Coming for you, Tim Worrell. 

★★★

In honor of Colvin, here's a list of all the players with exactly one home run as a Giant. It's a surprisingly long list!

Rk Player Year HR
1 Ehire Adrianza 2014 1
2 Juan Perez 2014 1
3 Francisco Peguero 2013 1
4 Guillermo Quiroz 2013 1
5 Emmanuel Burriss 2012 1
6 Conor Gillaspie 2012 1
7 Xavier Nady 2012 1
8 Orlando Cabrera 2011 1
9 Mark DeRosa 2011 1
10 Steve Holm 2009 1
11 Rajai Davis 2008 1
12 Travis Denker 2008 1
13 Guillermo Rodriguez 2007 1
14 Chad Santos 2006 1
15 Brian Dallimore 2005 1
16 Felix Rodriguez 2004 1
17 Alberto Castillo 2003 1
18 Francisco Santos 2003 1
19 Tom Goodwin 2002 1
20 Mark Gardner 2001 1
21 Terrell Lowery 2000 1
22 Marcus Jensen 1997 1
23 Terry Mulholland 1997 1
24 William VanLandingham 1997 1
25 Trent Hubbard 1996 1
Rk Player Year HR
26 Dax Jones 1996 1
27 Steve Hosey 1993 1
28 Jim McNamara 1993 1
29 Mark Bailey 1992 1
30 Ted Wood 1992 1
31 Scott Garrelts 1991 1
32 Bob Knepper 1990 1
33 Donell Nixon 1989 1
34 Francisco Melendez 1988 1
35 Jessie Reid 1988 1
36 Rusty Tillman 1988 1
37 Mark Wasinger 1988 1
38 Greg Minton 1987 1
39 Rob Wilfong 1987 1
40 Mike Woodard 1987 1
41 Steve Carlton 1986 1
42 Scot Thompson 1985 1
43 Jim Barr 1983 1
44 Joe Pettini 1983 1
45 Jeff Ransom 1983 1
46 Chris Smith 1983 1
47 Guy Sularz 1983 1
48 Rich Gale 1982 1
49 Billy Smith 1981 1
50 Chris Bourjos 1980 1
Rk Player Year HR
51 Dennis Littlejohn 1980 1
52 Joe Strain 1980 1
53 Greg Johnston 1979 1
54 John D'Acquisto 1976 1
55 Bruce Miller 1976 1
56 Jim Howarth 1974 1
57 Jim Willoughby 1974 1
58 Russ Gibson 1972 1
59 Bob Heise 1971 1
60 Frank Linzy 1970 1
61 Don Mason 1970 1
62 Skip Pitlock 1970 1
63 Ty Cline 1968 1
64 Don Landrum 1966 1
65 Jim Duffalo 1965 1
66 Ernie Bowman 1963 1
67 Bob Nieman 1962 1
68 Dave Philley 1960 1
69 Don Taussig 1958 1
70 Bill White 1958 1
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