Lincecum locks down A’s for first AL win

In his return to the big-league mound, Tim Lincecum worked his way to career win No. 109 as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim downed the Oakland Athletics 7-1.

In a spot start for Oakland, Andrew Triggs made the most of his 50 pitches, surrendering just one run in 3 innings pitched. Lincecum, taxed for 64 throws through the first three frames, settled in for the middle innings to finish with his first win as a member of the Angels (30-38).

The former San Francisco Giants starter needed just 98 pitches, quieting the A’s (28-40) to one run on four hits over six complete.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the A’s clubhouse at the Oakland Coliseum.

A’s Manager Bob Melvin said that the former All-Star hurler has developed his ability to out-think opposing hitters:

“He reads swings really well. He knows, to an extent, what you’re sitting on and when. He pitched a little bit backwards: threw some fastball in some breaking-ball counts, threw a lot of breaking balls in fastball counts. We couldn’t solve him. Give him credit.”

Pitching in the big leagues for the first time since June 27, 2015, “The Freak” said it took an inning to settle in:

“It kind of felt like riding a bike again. You get into the rhythm of the game.”

Lincecum added:

“I just tried to gather myself, in those later innings. I seem to get better as the game goes on, because I get a little knack for my mechanics and the game speed.”

After three shutout innings, Triggs (ND, 0-1, 7.29 ERA) — usually a  middle reliever — was sent to the hill by Melvin to defend a 1-0 fourth-inning lead, facing the dangerous Mike Trout. The righty left a 3-1 sinker up and over the plate to the 2014 American League MVP.

On a mammoth homer to left-center (14), Trout tied the game, knocking Triggs out one batter into the fourth.

The skipper was happy with the performance of his emergency starter:

“I thought he pitched great. One 3-1 pitch that was up a little bit ends up being a homer, but for a guy who hasn’t started to come in and take this role, and embrace it, to pitch well — give up one run — I thought he did his job.”

Three batters later, Johnny Giavotella homered off of reliever Ryan Dull (L, 1-2, 2.48 ERA), collecting RBI No. 17 in his 25th career game against the A’s. Lincecum (W, 1-0, 1.50 ERA) responded to being handed a lead by retiring the next six Oakland hitters.

Clinging to a 2-1 lead into the sixth Los Angeles used a five-hit barrage to tack on five runs. Adding an exclamation mark to the Anaheim attack Trout added a two-run double. He finished the game with two hits and three RBIs, while Yunel Escobar and C.J. Cron added three hits apiece.

Lincecum looked poised to hand the Green and Gold a rally for free, walking Danny Valencia, who had the A’s only RBI with a single in the third, to start the inning before falling behind 3-1 to Khris Davis. The A’s home run and RBI leader chopped a routine grounder to third baseman Yunel Escobar for a double play.

The new Angel starter admitted that he wasn’t expecting his performance, given his fall-off in stuff:

“I’m not pumping the cheese anymore like I used to … I’m inducing a lot more contact than I’m used to, which is good and bad — good if it’s is down.”

With a fastball that topped out at 90, and a decent curveball-changeup combination, Lincecum collected a pedestrian two strikeouts but coaxed eight ground-ball outs, with just three airborne outs. He also walked just two, despite landing in six three-ball counts.

Melvin expressed frustration with the unsteady play of his offense:

“We’re not consistent. That’s an issue. We’ll score 15 runs when things are going well, and everybody will get big swings up and down the lineup. Then we won’t. We’ll have days like we did today, where I think at time we probably swung at some pitches, when we were ahead in counts, and got him out of some jams.”

The visiting Angeles will send Jered Weaver (5-6, 5.71 ERA) to the mound for Sunday’s rubber match. The A’s offer up beleaguered lefty Eric Surkamp (0-4, 8.07 ERA), who has not lasted five full innings since April 19, putting further onus on the A’s offense.


Kalama Hines is SFBay’s Oakland Athletics beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @HineSight_2020 on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of A’s baseball.