Tim Lincecum had his first unambiguously excellent start of the year. Seriously, you have no idea how long I've been waiting to write this. About as long as you've been waiting to read something from anyone about it.
You might think there's been one in the can, pre-written, like an Abe Vigoda obituary. But there was no way to know what form the game would take. Couldn't predict the context. There were times that were better than others. A Wednesday night game against the Astros, say, still would have been sweet. But it would have had a different feeling than another scenario.
Say, against the Dodgers.
To complete a sweep, in which the Dodgers didn't score a run.
That moved the Giants into a tie for first place.
Yeah, that was perfect. As perfect as the perfect game, just in different, emotional ways. Because the reverse would have been true. A two-inning, five-walk, six-run game today would have been an acid bath. Back down to two games, and back to wondering what's wrong. The Giants avoid the sweep yet again. It would have felt worse than any of the other Lincecum meltdowns, especially after he looked good against Oakland.
Nope. It was just the opposite. It might not have looked quite like the same Lincecum who won two consecutive Cy Youngs, but it was at least the one who finished in the top ten after the last two seasons. At times, his changeup looked like the one that made him a star. His fastball had movement. He limited the stupid walks. And it was against the Dodgers to complete the sweep and move the Giants into a tie for first place. Not sure if that was mentioned yet, but it certainly doesn't get old.
It almost felt scripted:
Guy pretending to be Showtime Exec: You should be terrible.
Tim Lincecum: Terrible?Guy pretending to be Showtime Exec: Terrible! Career crisis! Everybody wondering if you're done for! And then …you come back!
Lincecum: Huh.Guy pretending to be Showtime Exec: Against the Dodgers! At the end of act two! To complete a sweep that vaults the Giants into first place!
Lincecum: Well, that'd be intere … wait, I thought we weren't doing The Franchise this year?
Guy pretending to be Showtime Exec: /runs, leaving cloud of dust and fake mustache behind
Lincecum: But that's a really good idea. And he was so polite!
I don't know how many times the Giants have gone into a series three games behind the team they were playing. But it feels like it's happened a few times over the last three seasons. And it never ends up the clean, sweepy way. It never seems to be that neat and tidy.
This time it was. And it was Tim Lincecum rising out of the ashes. Don't ask where the ashes came from. I'm sure it was legal. Whatever. That's not the point. But Lincecum did rise out of the ashes. And, brothers and sisters, it was perfectly timed.
I hope the Dodgers' scoreless streak is kept alive by a bullshit interference call on a double play.
There are a few of y'all who might be a little scared about what this game means for the Giants' lineup. If Hector Sanchez is the personal catcher for both Barry Zito and Tim Lincecum, that means Sanchez gets more at-bats. And if he's getting more at-bats, that means someone's getting fewer at-bats. That'd be Brandon Belt. Just as he establishes himself and gets his bat going, he could start sitting more. It's like a joke from an unfunny sitcom -- The Big Bang Theory of Roster Management.
I actually don't hate the idea of personal catchers, mostly because regular catchers need rest. The Sanchez/Posey alignment was working fine. Four games with one guy, and one game with the other. Not to spray you with the intangibles hose, but just because it isn't easy to quantify comfort level, doesn't mean it's complete nonsense. It's nothing I'd trust in regular circumstances, but Lincecum had reached the what-in-the-hell-do-we-try-now? stage of his slump.
The fear is that while we know correlation isn't causation, that isn't something that a lot of managers preach. And if Sanchez is the personal catcher for two guys, things get a lot more complicated. And by "complicated", I mean Belt gets screwed.
Except I'm not going to rage against the machine until Belt actually starts sitting for 40 percent of the games. It'd be one thing if it was Mike Napoli behind the plate, and Bochy didn't trust him, which made it easier to plop him at first. But Bochy trusts Posey. He also trusts him to catch better than Sanchez. He wants Posey behind the plate as much as possible. I honestly believe that. It's like the way Bochy felt about Bengie Molina, but rational.
If something were to change permanently, I'd wager that it'd be Barry Zito seeing less Sanchez. Because Barry Zito is the same damned pitcher he's always been. Sanchez's pitcher-whispering hasn't brought back the Cy Young-winning Zito. That crazy-hot April is over, and all that's left is Zito. I don't think Bochy is especially worried about Posey catching Zito. Not freaking out about this.
I thought Romo was going to throw a single pitch and be out of the game. I had no idea what kind of GIF that would have required. But he came out for the ninth and got a perfect save. That gets Romo signing a baby at a World Series parade:
Effortless. Fun to watch. Jubilant. There was drool.
I'm not sure if Santiago Casilla wasn't going to pitch regardless of the situation today, but if it was a conscious decision from Bochy to leave Romo in after a single pitch, it was a great decision. Don't take it for granted: A lot of managers would have brought in the acting closer at that point. But burning the best reliever in your pen after a single pitch would be horrendous.
That didn't happen. So there's Romo autographing a baby.