That Could Have Been a Lot Worse

Willie Bloomquist, who really shouldn’t even be batting leadoff, hit a single off Tim Lincecum to get things going for the Diamondbacks. The next batter, Chris Young, hit a home run. And that pretty much set the tone for the game; Lincecum gave up a couple bombs in the first inning, and ultimately couldn’t get through six innings. His fastball velocity sat around 90, topping out at 91.4 MPH. More concerning though, as Dustin Parkes pointed out, was the location. He had trouble keeping the ball down in the zone, and according to Brooks Baseball, only 23 of the 42 four-seamers he threw went for strikes.

The overall results weren’t pretty — 5.1 innings, five runs, and four of the six hits he allowed went for extra bases. But there’s a silver lining: seven strikeouts, one walk. Last season, Lincecum had eight starts in which he allowed fewer than two walks. Seven of those games came in the first half. Walks were a problem for Lincecum last season, and he’s made a point to address the problem this year (pitching to contact). Hopefully, this start is a sign that he’s headed in the right direction. (And the strikeouts were still there, which is important.)

Meanwhile, against the ace of the D’backs’ staff, the Giants’ hitters managed to put nine hits and three runs on the board. The Giants’ one-through-seven batters all had hits at one point or another in this game. Buster Posey collected a couple singles and drew a walk, Pablo Sandoval was his 2011 self, and Melky Cabrera looked pretty good at the plate (well, aside from this oddity). They weren’t entirely dominated by Ian Kennedy.

There were squandered opportunities, particularly in the earlier innings. And none stood out more than that seventh inning, when Bruce Bochy left Aubrey Huff in to face LOOGY Joe Paterson. Paterson held left-handed hitters to a .574 OPS last season. Huff is a left-handed hitter. Brett Pill, a right-handed hitter, was available off the bench. That’s what he’s there for. He probably should have hit for Huff — with a defensive replacement coming in for Huff thereafter. But that’s definitely not where the blame lies for this loss, and furthermore, I’m inclined to believe that Pill against left-handed pitching is not a terribly significant improvement over Huff against left-handed pitching. And for what it’s worth, Huff put up a pretty decent at-bat regardless.

A lot of things went well for the Giants in this one, and the lineup is looking…competent. Quite simply, San Francisco wins this game with a better start from Lincecum. Not an ideal start to the season, but oh well.

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