Lincecum looks good; Sandoval seems shaky defensively
SAN FRANCISCO — The numbers say that Tim Lincecum has allowed 10 earned runs in 15 1/3 innings spanning his last three starts against Major League competition. That’s a 5.87 ERA, which isn’t what the Giants expect from their Cy Young Award winner.
But the eyes say that Lincecum looks ready for his Opening Day assignment on April 7 against the Milwaukee Brewers at AT&T Park.
Lincecum allowed only four hits in 5 2/3 innings Thursday against the A’s and struck out eight — six, a still-decent number, excepting A’s pitcher Trevor Cahill’s two punchouts. The Giants ace retired the hitters he needed to subdue. Jason Giambi struck out twice, Matt Holliday went 0-for-2 with runners on base and Jack Cust went 0-for-2 with a strikeout.
“I felt like I had all my pitches going today,” Lincecum said. “My curveball felt the best it has in a while; the changeup was good.”
Lincecum mildly complained about the location of his fastball, the pitch Eric Chavez hammered for a two-run, fourth-inning homer. I have a hunch that Lincecum wouldn’t throw the same pitch to the same type of hitter in the same situation during the regular season. Or, if he did, he’d make it a better fastball.
“You think you can sneak one by him every once in a while,” Lincecum said. “That one was, I’m guessing, right in his wheelhouse. He put a pretty good swing on it.”
Giants manager Bruce Bochy pulled Lincecum in the sixth inning after he walked Chavez on four pitches with two outs and one run in. “I didn’t feel like I was losing anything,” Lincecum said. “One batter got away from me.”
Next time, Lincecum will have to be a little more airtight. But we all know he’s capable of that.
Third baseman Pablo Sandoval’s two errors, which doubled his Cactus League total, might have been a mild concern to Giants fans. Bochy, however, remained patient.
“It’s going to take a couple of days to adjust to this infield,” Bochy said. “It’s a completely different type of infield than he’s used to playing on.”
For one thing, it’s a much better infield than the ones in Arizona, which were sun-baked and produced bad hops. But the pace of groundballs at AT&T is slower, which could have thrown Sandoval a changeup, figuratively speaking.
“The ball’s not getting on you quite as quickly,” Bochy said. He also noted that Thursday night’s stiff wind could have altered the course of a grounder or two — that’s right, it doesn’t happen with just fly balls — which would have flummoxed Sandoval further.
Sandoval also went 3-for-4 with a double, triple and two RBIs. Overall, he did just fine.
– Chris Haft