Nobody wants to overreact (okay, maybe we do) but the eyes of many orange and black faithful were focused on one time ace Tim Lincecum last night as The Freak opened up his 2013 season at Dodger Stadium. The Ravine hasn’t always been the kindest to Tim who holds his forth highest career road ERA (with at least 20 innings of work) in Los Angeles, so opening in So Cal might not have been the dream scenario for Lincecum or Giant fans if they were given the choice. That said, it the less than ideal scenario is what Tim had to work with and work with he did, in the most odd of ways.
Throwing only 46 of his 92 pitches for strikes, Lincecum struggled with his command all night, walking a career high seven in the process. But the bend don’t break mentality hung strong as Lincecum pitched five innings of shutout ball, the lone unearned run scoring on a passed ball in the first inning. Lincecum also scattered three hits on the night, none after the second inning with one of the three hits being a soft bloop. Needless to say, Tim’s opening start of the ’13 season was, well, Jonathan Sanchez-ian.
Unsettling was obviously Lincecum’s walk rate and his lack of control – something that haunted Tim during his struggles last season, but unlike last year, the Bellevue native appeared relatively poised when the situation turned dire. There were some loud outs – a few balls that could’ve opened up the game had they been twenty feet to the left or right along with a few balls that potentially clear the fence during a day game in Los Angeles, but Lincecum worked with what he was given and never broke. That’s not something we could’ve said last season when Lincecum couldn’t get that put-away out before eventually making his way to the bullpen in the postseason where he became the Giants’ “x-factor”.
Lincecum told CBS Sports that ending the season the way he did was a confidence booster:
“If you had said I would end the (regular) season the way I did and not had the postseason that I did, then I would have had a lot more to think about,” Lincecum said.
“There’s really nothing you can take out of what I did in the postseason except confidence and optimism,” he added.
It was certainly a start that many Giant fans wanted to see and in true Lincecum fashion, he left you wanting more. Was he ineffective and just lucked out with some overly aggressive Dodger bats? Is this the wildly effective Lincecum we’re going to have to get used to? They’re all questions we’ll figure out as the season progresses, but for a night, Lincecum and the Giant faithful will take the win no matter how ugly it was.