The last time the Giants shut an opponent out, it was July 1. Tim Lincecum helped shut out the Cardinals.
The time before that? Say, that's a coincidence. That was on June 25, and it was also a Lincecum start.
The time before that? I don't know, probably Tim Hudson or something. The point is that Lincecum is on a roll, a beautiful, unexpected roll. In his last 30⅓ innings, he's allowed a single run. The last time he failed to go at least six innings was June 3. Ooh, ooh, wait. Since the last time Arizona teed off on him -- seven earned runs on April 9 -- his ERA is 3.06. Since getting hammered by the Reds on June 3, his ERA is 1.86.
He's baacbabbbbfdfd. He's bacccffd. Shoot, that's not working. He's baccccccfff. Fine. He's ... suddenly fun to watch again.
With those ERAs that I so gleefully typed up there, there are red flags. The strikeout rate is down. The swinging-strike rate is way down (just 11 percent since that Reds start, results be damned). The walks are, generally, as high as they've been, if not higher. And here I am, not caring. Punch FIP in the stomach and throw its sandwich baggie full of Goldfish into the street. You ruined the last two Lincecum seasons, luck and nerd stats. Let us have this.
Independent of those statistics, though, I will offer #bold analysis: Lincecum pitched much better against the Diamondbacks on Friday than he did against the Padres in his no-hitter. After the no-hitter, Lincecum made a point to say it wasn't a "stuff night", that his command was more important. Everyone agreed, for the most part. The ball wasn't going 92 mph, but it was going where he wanted it to go.
On Friday, there were a lot more 92s before the obligatory dip to 89. The real story, though, was probably the befuddling curveball, which was as good as it's looked all year. The change is biding its time, but for now the curve is the dominant specialty pitch. The combination of fastball/slider/curve made Lincecum look like a pitcher. A pitcher, dang it.
How do you not get excited over this stretch? I, of little faith, had given up. But it was to a point where I didn't even feel guilty about giving up. Still don't. It was logical. Yet here were four starts, one of which was historically relevant. The other three were merely awesome.
Tim Lincecum is babbbbbbrrnf. He's baaaaaaaaafmrtznk. He's pitching well right now, yessiree.
The Giants were 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position tonight, and you didn't care. They also didn't crack the weird and oppressive five-run barrier again. It's been a long time since the Giants have scored six runs or more. BRING OUT THE CHART.
The last time the Giants scored more than five runs, it was June 22. Again, you don't care right now.
All of the Lincecum praise is just and deserved, but let's take a minute to praise the defense. In the top of the fifth, Pablo Sandoval stopped a tough liner from Martin Prado and threw to first in time. Joe Panik took the next two grounders, neither of which was an easy play.
It was an inning that was easy to take for granted. It was an inning that would have led to three earned runs in either of the last two years, I'm sure of it. It's tough to keep leaning on the luck post after bad start after bad start after bad start. After the sixth 5 IP/4 ER/4BB start in a row, you don't want to think about BABIP and grounders finding holes. You want to diagnose, blame, and fix.
I still wonder what Lincecum's last two years look like with a few more of those innings in the right spot. I think I know -- more of the same, just a smidgen less of it -- but I can't shake the feeling that Lincecum got an unfathomably raw deal, when most post-Cy declines happen more gradually.
He's been good lately, though. Good lately. I'd give up a lot for a resurgent Lincecum. Like, say, a month of terrible nonsense before the Giants got on track. I'd give up the comfort and arrogance of a 9-game lead for a resurgent Lincecum if everything turned out okay in the end.
Wait, we were talking about the defense. Good work, Pablo. Good work, Joe Panik, whose defense has been impressive (and whose arm not as bad as I was expecting).
When Cody Ross came to the plate, there was hearty applause.
This was as it should be. As it always should be. As it always should be until the day he dons a Dodgers cap and shakes Tommy Lasorda's hand unironically. Cody Ross gets cheered. Loudly.
Here I am, on a Friday night, putting my feet up after a Giants win over the Diamondbacks win, and not mentioning Paul Goldschmidt.
Gee, didn't even notice.
Did Paul Goldschmidt even play tonight?
/watches original Planet of the Apes, thinking about apes instead of first basemen named Paul
/doesn't update spreadsheet of Paul Goldschmidt-related horrors