Tim Lincecum is officially back. No, not Back, with a capital B, like he was in his 2008-09 years, or even his pretty good 2010 and really good 2011. No, he’s back to being bad, like he was before he was good, like he was after he was bad again. Because he was good for two games. Now he’s bad again. He’s the old new Timmy, not the new old Timmy or the new new Timmy.
God, I feel like I’m talking about Ryan Vogelsong. Because man, Lincecum had one of the best terrible performances I’ve ever seen. He struck three in the first, aside from a Chase Headley home run and a HBP to Carlos Quentin, fanned two in the second, one in the third and, yep, BLASTOFF. Timmy grooved an 89 MPH fastball down the middle to Jesus “Giant-Killer”  Guzman, and he did what he was supposed to do: launch it into the seats. Per Andrew “Buzz-In” Baggarly:
Let’s look again at that at-bat with Guzman.
Just kidding, I just wasn’t sure I’d ever laugh again. Here’s the at-bat with Guzman.
Note where Whiteside set his target.
Now look where the pitch ended up.
When Tim Lincecum was throwing 93-95 mph, it was easier for him to leave a mistake up in the zone and not pay the price. Hell, even at his current speed, between 89-91, he could leave mistake up in the zone against the Astros and not have to worry. But when he’s throwing 89 mph, either he gets his command and control back, or he’s toast. But this isn’t new analysis, or particularly helpful. It’s just frustrating to watch. Just to be annoying, let’s put this here:
After the Padres went up 4-1, it was almost a certainty that they would win, particularly with Buster Posey getting a day off and Pablo Sandoval nicked up. Brandon Crawford batted fifth! The satisfaction that I have with Brandon Crawford’s season  is all about expectations. For a shortstop hitting 7th or 8th, he’s great. But if he’s your 5th hitter… you will not win many games.
This game got interesting in the 8th inning. This game should not have gotten interesting, but Everth Cabrera and his lackadaisical noodle arm allowed the Giants to hope. Timmy had a bad day. Melky had a bad day. Crawford had a bad day. Whiteside had a Whiteside day, which is a pretty bad thing to have. The box score is actually pretty strange. Every starter on the team did something good, either a hit, a walk, a sac fly, or a sharp grounder to short that Joaquin Arias shouldn’t have run on. The team was a depressing shade of beige; not quite a black hole of offensive production, but just a whole lot of stuff hanging out there in space. A “gas Giant,” if you will. You probably won’t.
But this Game Three Curse is becoming a thing for the 2012 Giants. In all four of the series since the All-Star Break, the Giants have won the first two games before losing game three in spectacular fashion. In 2012 the Giants have won either the first two games or three games – in a four-game series – 12 times, and failed to complete the sweep 9 times. Again, that’s a 3-9 record in would-be sweep games. Now, it’s incredibly hard for any team to sweep any other team , and the three times they did it were against the Cubs, Astros and Dodgers, but that’s a perfect allegory for the Giants poor clutch hitting. Or Lincecum leaving his pitches up in the zone. Or poor plate discipline. I’m not quite sure, but there’s a metaphor there.
Brandon Watch 2012
Crawford: A walk, a caught-stealing, and defense. This man is not a fifth hitter. Still, I like the aggressiveness, especially if he really thought he could make it.
Belt: A rough game at the plate, until the very end. It’s hard to know how much Belt’s 9th-inning junk-time double will affect anything – his “confidence issues,” Bochy’s trust in him, his swagger, etc. – but hey, hits is hits.
Stats of the Day
1: Hits before the 6th inning by the Giants
4: Outs recorded by Jeremy Affeldt
3: Batters faced by Jeremy Affeldt
0.6: Career HR/9 by Lincecum
1.0: 2012 HR/9 by Lincecum before today
0: Number of Giants to get on base more than once
2: Longest streak of consecutive quality starts for Tim Lincecum in 2012
Press Room Food of the Day
Scrambled eggs with fried chicken.