Reacting to Tim Lincecum's velocity is for greenhorns. Worrying about 89 or 90 or 91 … bah. We've seen Lincecum succeed at 89 to 91. It's not ideal, but he ebbs and flows. And it's April. Velocities are typically down for everyone in the beginning of the season. Justin Verlander was 92-94 yesterday, and no one was freaking out about him.
Location was the problem today. Location and snap on breaking pitches. Which could be something to do with arm strength, which could be tied to velocity. But it's way too premature to look too deeply into a bad start. I'll blame overall wonkiness and Lincecum being out of sorts. I saw "adrenaline" come up in the broadcasts and on Twitter. Lincecum being susceptible to jitters and adrenaline has been a commonly held perception for a while. The counter-argument: Game 5. Game 1 of the NLDS after allowing a leadoff double. I'm much more comfortable blaming overall funkiness than adrenaline.
Regardless, it was an ugly, disfigured game. Even when he was mowing hitters down in the middle innings, there were pitches that were left up in just about every at-bat. There are games where Lincecum makes an isolated mistake or two that cost him, or where he's hurt by walks and poorly timed hits. This was not one of those games. He looked bad, though he gets a few bonus points for the relative stability of the middle innings. Should be 31 more of these things for him, though.
Day 1 - Subject does not appear to be infected. In good spirits. Responds to "Melky," as usual. Hit a home run and a double. Didn't outwardly react to puzzled groans from infected teammates. Stayed on his side of the bench, cautiously keeping tabs on the other people in the dugout.
Day 34 - Subject rolled over a ground ball to second base on the first pitch. Small amount of foam in the corner of his mouth. Infection possible. Seemed to understand the grunts and moans that his infected teammates use for language.
Day 58 - Infection confirmed. Subject now has telltale glazed look in eyes. Swings at everything. When runners reach scoring position on accident, subject puts one leg behind his head and swings with his eyes closed. Regular convulsions. Moans "groounnnnnderrrrrs" and staggers forward, similar in manner to his other teammates.
So, the offense. I hate leaving the confidence of the spring, where you can explain everything away as not meaning anything, and entering the regular season, where it's still too early to make sweeping proclamations about anything, but it all certainly means something. I'm pretty sure that the Emmanueliot/Crawford/pitcher sequence is going to end us all, but I don't get the sense of overall dread through the first part of the order that I did when the lineup was ravaged by injuries last year.
Oh. Hello, straws. Don't mind if I do.
I'm thinking that Brandon Belt is going to swing at just about every first pitch until the league adjusts to him and starts throwing them out of the strike zone. And in a way, that makes a lot of sense. When that happens, he can adjust back to the old Brandon Belt, moving back to a patience-first attitude. That's oversimplifying things, but it's not like I know what I'm talking about, anyway.
Great moments in second-guessing
Top of the sixth. Runner on third, two outs. Tim Lincecum hits for himself. It was pretty clear that Lincecum wasn't as crisp as he would have hoped, and there's a chance that the Giants aren't going to get another runner on third base until May. Wouldn't it have been better to pinch-hit for him there and turn the game over to Mota/Casilla/Lopez/Romo/Wilson?
Counterpoint: It probably would have been Burriss who would have hit. In my alternate reality, Burriss flew out to deep shortstop, reaching what he likes to call "the inner warning track behind the pitcher's mound." It was probably a non-issue. But I would have liked to see what the game would have looked like if Lincecum didn't start the sixth.
More great moments in second-guessing
We're all learning something new every day on this rocketship called Earth, baby. We're all just eternal students. No big deal. Live and learn. And I'm thinking that's the last time we'll see Joe Paterson face Aubrey Huff in a crucial situation. That spot in the seventh is why Brett Pill exists. I'll complain more the next time it happens.