Tim Lincecum’s first Cy Young season began in Los Angeles with a relief appearance in a rain-delayed game. Merkin Valdez started the game because Bruce Bochy and Joe Torre thought they were going to be able to game the weather report and get their rotation starters in on their normal turn after the rain delay. That wound up not being the case, and Tim Lincecum wound up pitching in relief only to then wait for about 75 minutes in a rain delay to then go out and pitch again.
I was at this game and I remember being confused. Why would the Giants risk Tim Lincecum’s health after holding him back from the start of the game specifically to avoid any risk to his health? Also, the rain came on suddenly and it was intense. It’s rare that Los Angeles gets such quick-hitting power rain, but the bigger story in terms of the baseball game was that the storm came later and lasted longer than expected.
This game gets lost in the shuffle of all the subsequent history, but here’s a sign of the Giants’ pending good fortune: they gambled with their franchise pitcher’s health and it didn’t backfire. It’s a reminder of simpler times, when the Giants didn’t look like they knew what they were doing or where they wanted to go with the franchise. In that sense, Tim Lincecum was a tremendous gift, and something to be protected at all cost, because who knew if they’d ever be so lucky again... like a pot of gold at the end of a suck rainbow.
In retrospect, this was the perfect Tim Lincecum game. It had weird twists to it and plans laid bare by nature, and at the end of it, the Giants won. I mean, Merkin Valdez... Jack Taschner... Grant’s post-game thread on this game was so good it would eventually lead to legal action. It really was an odd game that, from a fan’s perspective, felt like it needlessly jeopardized Tim Lincecum’s arm health.
And then he went on to dominate the National League and win the Cy Young award.