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Linceblog: Lincecum pitches near flawless one-hit, shut-out ball through 8 innings, as SF Giants beat Milwaukee, 4-1

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Tim LincecumBy Emil Guillermo

After the clubhouse media gaggle, where Tim Lincecum answers questions about his fastball and slider tersely, the Major League’s top Filipino American pitcher slipped on his glasses and reassumed his normal look.

It’s not the look of a baseball super-hero.

It’s more the look of a skinny guy in a knit cap and nerdy black frames.

For most of the season, Lincecum has been more like that nerdy guy on the field than any baseball super hero.

But since the no-hitter July 13 vs. Cincinnati, Lincecum has overcome a struggling first half and has been a different pitcher.

Throw out the first start immediately after the no-hittter where he gave up 8 earned runs on nine hits in just 3.2 innings, and Lincecum has given us an eyeful—the look of a crafty pitcher who doesn’t blow the ball by hitters, but makes them miss just the same.

His last three starts since then have been gems.

July 28 against the Cubs,  Lincecum threw 7 innings, giving up 2 runs on 4 hits with 10 strikeouts, but lost 2-1.

Last Saturday against Tampa Bay, he went 7 innings, giving up 1 run on six hits, and 5 strikeouts, and lost 2-1.

And on this day, it was more of that crafty, geeky guy.

Lincecum glass2

Lincecum hurled a great one, and the Giants surprised every one banging out 10 hits, including a 3-run first inning home-run–the first home-run in 11 home games.

It was all Lincecum needed, as he turned in yet another brilliant pitching performance, holding the Brewers to just one hit in 8 innings, no runs and striking out 8.

And he told me as he was leaving the clubhouse, though he was taken out at 108 pitches, he felt strong enough to close it out.

“Definitely felt strong,” he told me. “I didn’t feel fatigue. It might have been the blister but it wasn’t too bad. It was just a nuisance.”

A little blister had developed on his middle finger, but Manager Bruce Bochy wasn’t taking any chances. Sandy Rosario came in and with help from Javier Lopez and Sergio Romo, finished off the Brewers despite giving up a hit and a run in the 9th.

Lincecum said the Belt home-run gave him a big confidence boost right from the start.

“It sets the pace for the rest of the game,” Lincecum said. “You don’t have to be too fine…You don’t have to be so perfect.”

Lincecum said his curve was better, as was the location of his pitches. Carlos Gomez made some great plays for the Brewers with his glove. But Lincecum got him in the batter’s box, fooling him twice with changeups and curves.

The overall mood in the clubhouse was better than it has been for a team that’s lost 9 of their last 14 games.

But Lincecum said Bochy had called a pre-game meeting that seemed to  re-focus the team that has had been mired with the worst winning percentage (.360) in baseball since May 14.

Said Lincecum: “You got to take that approach of ‘one pitch at a time,’ and worry less about the future and the past and what could happen, and what didn’t happen, and get caught up in the moment which is where you want to be.”

Deep.

But he realizes during these times, you stay positive and play the best you can.

“That’s the frustrating part,”Lincecum said. “ You never know what your’re going to get. All you can do is leave it out there on the field.”

Lincecum has been leaving it on the field, but not like the Lincecum of old, who threw a 95-mph fastball.  He throws his fast-ball  around  90-mph   now and says he’s “just trying to stay within myself.” Using “what he’s got” and “pitching to better locations” is his answer now. He said he’s bought into the process he’s been working on,  and figured it could take months, but after the game he seemed pleased.

“I think it’s finally coming around,” he said.

Inevitably, one of the other questions that comes concerns his future with the Giants. Does he think about that much in this stretch?

“Not at all really,” Lincecum said. “I  just try to come in every day, I got this year to finish out, and worry about later,  later.”

Giants fans will have to deal with that later too. Is it possible Lincecum may no longer be a Giant?

If the Lincecum transformation since the no-hitter  is for real, it would be hard to see the player once dubbed “The Franchise,” wearing anything but orange and black.

You can watch game highlights here.

Emil Guillermo likes to take time from the news to cover Major League Baseball, the Giants, and its Filipino American star, Tim Lincecum. You can find his writing on the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund blog at www.aaldef.org/blog, and at www.amok.com

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