Big-time Lincecum locks down Braves
AT&T PARK — Vintage Tim Lincecum and newcomer Tyler Colvin combined to help the Giants stay perfect this season against the Atlanta Braves with a 4-2 Monday night at AT&T Park.
Photos by Godofredo Vasquez/SFBay
Lincecum (W, 3-2, 4.68 ERA) looked dominant while turning in his best start of the season, finishing the game with a season-high 7-2/3 innings pitched while surrendering just one earned run on two hits and notching 11 strikeouts.
Colvin — recalled Saturday from Triple-A Fresno — wasted no time endearing himself to 41,438 new friends as he blasted his first hit as a member of the Giants into the water of McCovey Cove.
Colvin’s home run would give the Giants a 1-0 lead at the end of the second inning.
It would take the Braves until the top of the fifth inning to scratch against Lincecum. Center fielder B.J. Upton beat a pitch down low, sending it on a line just over the wall in left field to tie the game up at 1-1.
Upton’s shot was the first hit of the game for the Braves. Atlanta batters looked baffled by Lincecum up until that point, striking out five times in six at-bats early in the game and gaining their only base runners by way of walks.
Except for the home run to Upton, Lincecum turned in a vintage performance using a mixture of off-speed pitches to compliment his dominant fastball that kept the Braves off-balance all night.
Manager Bruce Bochy applauded his righty’s effort after the game:
“It was vintage Timmy the way he had his secondary pitches going along with the fastball. He was using both sides, all quadrants…I had a good look about him all night.”
Braves starter Gavin Floyd (L, 0-1, 2.70 ERA) allowed Giants base runners in the first three innings before settling down and not allowing another runner in scoring position until he worked his way out of a leadoff single by Angel Pagan in the sixth inning.
The Braves threatened Lincecum once more in the top of the seventh inning when B.J. Upton cracked his second hit of the game with a one-out double off the wall in the left-center gap.
Upton would try to steal third a few pitches later — initially being ruled safe — to set up a scoring opportunity.
Bochy,who was possibly spurred by Pablo Sandoval’s reaction at third, challenged the ruling and had the call overturned, depriving Atlanta of their chance.
The call would prove to be the turning point in the game, as the Giants would jump all Floyd in the bottom of the seventh.
After both Hector Sanchez and Brandon Crawford reached base to start the inning off, Colvin would continue his welcoming party by lacing a bases-clearing triple past the glove of first baseman Freddie Freeman putting the Giants up 3-1.
Although he wouldn’t commit to having Colvin in the lineup against LHP Mike Minor, Bochy noted that Colvin’s performance tonight would get the outfielder a second look towards breaking into tomorrows lineup:
“There are a couple ways I can go, so I’ll sit down and look at some things. But he did a nice job [with] first and second there, two strikes. That’s a great piece of hitting there, he got it just down the line.”
Brandon Hicks tacked on another run with an RBI single up the middle to extend the Giants lead to 4-1.
Floyd remained in the game to face Lincecum one more time but was pulled after registering his eighth strikeout of the night. He gave up four runs — three earned — on seven hits in 6-1/3 innings pitched.
Lincecum himself would walk off to thunderous applause after a two-out walk to Jason Heyward in the top of the eighth cut his game short. Reliever Juan Gutierrez would retire Justin Upton to end the inning.
Freeman — the only person Lincecum failed to strike out — made things interesting in the top of the ninth by launching a home run off reliever Javier Lopez to open the frame, cutting the Giants lead to two.
The homer would prompt Bochy to bring in closer Sergio Romo, who retired three straight batters to collect his 13th save of the season.
After blowing a save against the Dodgers yesterday by allowing a two-run home run by Hanley Ramirez in the bottom of the ninth inning, Bochy applauded Romo for his ability to bounce back in tonight’s game:
“He politicked for that. He said he was good to go, he wanted to be called for to be in the game and [he did] a nice job.”
The Giants will send Ryan Vogelsong to the mound against LHP Mike Minor tomorrow in the second game of the series, at 7:15 pm.
Tim Lincecum’s 11 strikeouts tonight marked the 36th time in his career that he has reached double-digit strikeouts in a game. Monday was the first game Lincecum worked past six innings all season. He was the only Giants starter not to do so coming into the game. … The Giants are now 16-5 against teams over .500 this season after beating the NL East leading Braves yet again. However, they are just 9-9 on teams under the .500 mark. … Brandon Belt has elected to undergo surgery on his thumb tomorrow morning and will miss approximately six weeks.