Tim Lincecum Robbed By Arizona’s Atmosphere

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Tim Lincecum can be just as deceiving when he doesn’t fool hitters as he is when he does. Huh?

Lincecum’s 4.37 Cactus League ERA, which rises to 5.33 if a performance in a March 21 rain out is included, might fool observers into thinking that he struggled in his six exhibition starts. But, as Lincecum explained after his appearance Saturday in the Giants‘ 9-6 victory over Cincinnati, the Arizona atmosphere often robs him of his usual command.

Lincecum yielded six runs and 11 hits in five innings to the Reds, including a three-run homer in the fourth inning by ex-Giant Fred Lewis. That instance exemplified Lincecum’s helplessness. He threw Lewis a change-up, which usually would dart outside. This one didn’t do that.

“He went out and got it,” Lincecum said. “I think it was coming back to the middle of the plate. That tends to happen to me down here. My change-up kind of goes both ways. Obviously, you want to trust it and not worry about what it’s going to do. But I’ve accepted the fact that I don’t know where it’s going to go.

Lincecum, who said that he experiences the same phenomenon in the mile-high air of Colorado, still showed signs during this spring of the form that helped him capture the National League’s Cy Young Award in 2008 and ’09. He struck out 24 batters in 22 2/3 innings, echoing the NL strikeout titles he has won in the last three years.

“I think I got to a point where I got physically ready,” Lincecum said. “Mentally, it got tedious a little bit.”

Giants manager Bruce Bochy pointed out that a fifth-inning double by Juan Francisco, which helped account for two runs, was essentially a ground ball that took a high hop off first baseman Mark DeRosa’s glove. That further inflated Lincecum’s totals.

“I thought he showed good arm strength today,” Bochy said, referring to Lincecum’s 90-pitch total. “Overall, I thought it was a pretty good day for Timmy. Bochy said that Lincecum’s complaints of wayward pitches were legitimate. “It’s hard to read some pitchers here in Arizona,” Bochy said. “The ball may not move quite the same, and not just the fastball. You’re talking about the change-up or breaking ball. I’m not concerned the least bit with Timmy. I like where he is.”

And so do I.  Like where Timmy is, not concerned in the least. Timmy is fine and he’s going to have a GREAT SEASON! Unless…he has to waste any more of his precious time defending himself.

I truly believe that the Arizona atmosphere has been robbing sweet Timmy and I for one plan to put a stop to it.  🙂

Poor Timmy

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