Lincecum ‘grinds’ through performance

Wednesday, April 13

SAN FRANCISCO — Tim Lincecum had a no-hitter while facing the minimum nine batters through three innings. Surely, Tuesday would evolve into one of his finer nights on the mound.

Lincecum’s excellence was illusory, as the man himself pointed out.

“I feel like I didn’t give myself the best opportunity,” he said after the Giants’ 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. “I wasn’t exactly painting the zone. I was just grinding through it and got to a lot of three-ball counts.”

Indeed, Lincecum threw 49 pitches through three innings. He ultimately lasted 5 1/3 innings and needed a fabulous relief effort from Guillermo Mota, who struck out Rod Barajas and induced a popup from Aaron Miles with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth inning, to have a chance
at securing the victory. That possibility vanished with Marcus Thames’ pinch-hit home run off Jeremy Affeldt leading off the seventh.

It was an adventurous evening for Lincecum nonetheless. He received a staredown from Juan Uribe after hitting his ex-teammate, the last batter he faced. Lincecum also hit Uribe on Opening Night in Los Angeles. Lincecum insisted that he wasn’t trying to plunk Uribe.

“I throw a lot of balls up there anyway, whether it’s a lefty or righity,” Lincecum said. “I buzzed [Matt] Kemp’s tower; I came close to [Jamey] Carroll. The ball just seems to find [Uribe]. Never intentionally, obviously, in a situation like that. I’d be stupid. I’m just trying to throw a pitch in, I didn’t finish it and it held up.”

It also wasn’t the first time Lincecum backed Kemp off the plate. Lincecum indicated that Kemp’s .472 batting average had something to do with this.

“Obviously, you try to make ‘purpose’ pitches, not to hit somebody but get close to them where you make them feel uncomfortable in the box,” Lincecum said. “But lately I guess he’s felt that’s where he belongs. He’s hitting well. Whether you buzz him off, he’s staying in there. He’s definitely improved, for sure.”

Lincecum made a remarkable play for the first out of the sixth inning. Andre Ethier’s comebacker grazed the heel of Lincecum’s glove and trickled behind the pitcher for what appeared to be a sure infield hit. But Lincecum rushed after the ball, slid to grab it between the mound and second base and threw in time to first base from his knees for the out.

“If I feel like I can make the play and I get to the ball, I’ll make a decent effort at it,” Lincecum said. “I just happened to beat him on the throw.”

Told by a reporter that he looked good making the play, Lincecum said, “I hope so. Because it was stressful for me.”

Chris Haft

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