Mariners Give Tim Lincecum Taste Of What He Hasn't Been Missing

Mariners baseball sometimes

This game was being billed as Tim Lincecum's return to Seattle after leaving following the draft. This game had to be billed as something, other than "baseball game", which is perfectly fine and descriptive but lacking a certain je ne sais quoi. But that wasn't just artificial hype meant to draw people in who might not otherwise be drawn - there was legitimate hype, as Lincecum is a local product who got away, and as this was his first-ever start against the Mariners in a meaningful game. Lincecum's been around since 2007, which is a long time, but the Mariners don't often play the Giants because they're too busy being told to be mad at the Padres.

I don't know how this would've felt going in had Lincecum been pitching more like Tim Lincecum. As you've undoubtedly heard, Lincecum's been in a rut, so the hype was more about name than name and corresponding performance. But, had Lincecum been himself, this game would've felt nigh hopeless from the Mariners' perspective. With Lincecum all bonkers, this game felt more winnable, if only by one percentage point, up from one percent. That's a 100-percent improvement!

Of course, as cynical Mariners fans, I'm guessing most of us didn't entertain many thoughts about Lincecum extending his slump. Lincecum was coming in with far better peripherals than his ERA, and even if there are non-random reasons for that, it was hard not to feel like Lincecum would settle in. He'd pitch like himself, people would ask "is Tim Lincecum back?" and other people would respond "not necessarily, because Mariners." We'd take offense at first, and then we wouldn't, because we've been here and we know what this team can be like more than anyone else.

Lincecum extended his slump. He retired 15 batters, and he was charged with five runs while throwing less than 60 percent strikes. The oddest thing is that, stuff-wise, he looked a lot more like his old self than he has for much of the season. His fastball got up to 93, and averaged 92. On the year, he's averaged closer to 90. His slider had that depth announcers are always going on about, his changeup danced like it's often danced, and I don't really remember his curveballs so I don't know why I'm including them in this sentence. At times, Tim Lincecum looked very good, and he was working with his ordinary repertoire. Not ordinary, but ordinary for him.

And the Mariners got to him for five runs, and while they added more runs, they only needed the fifth. Two scored in the first, when Casper Wells and Jesus Montero each went deep. Wells hit a 2-and-1 mistake fastball that didn't make Lincecum visibly upset, and Montero hit a good 1-and-2 low, inside slider, where it was supposed to be, and that did make Lincecum visibly upset. Lincecum whirled around and screamed at himself, or the baseball, or Kirt Manwaring, or someone or something. Lincecum made the pitch he wanted to make, and it landed well up the upper deck.

More runs scored in the fifth, when Dustin Ackley scored on an infield single, and John Jaso scored on a wild pitch. Lincecum faced one guy in the sixth, and it was Montero, and he singled, and he scored, even though now that I think about it I don't know how Montero ever scores when he isn't forced in by like a homer or a bases-loaded walk. Jesus Montero moves around like ... have you ever just sat and watched clouds move? Not low clouds, blowing by in a gust. I mean big puffy clouds, way up there, where you stare at them, and you could swear they're moving, but the more you think about how they're moving and the more you stare at them looking for them to move, the more it seems like they're just sitting still. That's what Jesus Montero moves around like. I don't know how he isn't thrown out at home every single time. Defenders have literally several minutes.

Lincecum kept on struggling, kind of, even against the Mariners, and the Mariners did away with the Giants by scoring seven runs in all. This result has been a long time coming, given all the recent angst over Safeco's dimensions. Now, this wasn't a potent seven runs. The third run scored on an infield single, the fourth run scored on a wild pitch, the fifth run scored on an infield single that could've been an error, and the sixth and seventh runs scored on a grounder up the middle. But the first two runs scored on homers, and ultimately, seven runs is seven runs. In eight innings, in Safeco, against a Tim Lincecum who isn't himself but who isn't this bad. This game will help to quiet people down, if only for a day.

Right now I am completely wiped out from a full day of hiking, so I'm not going to risk trying to write much more when I can feel my head threatening to fall asleep and land on the keyboard. Quickly, I'll note that John Jaso drew two walks in two plate appearances and owns a .368 OBP in a decreasingly small sample size. In the sixth, Michael Saunders was on first when Dustin Ackley hit a slow roller to second, and as Ryan Theriot charged and attempted to tag Saunders to begin a potential double play, Saunders stopped, causing Theriot to hesitate, miss with the tag, and throw too late to first. With two on and two out in the third, Kevin Millwood got Pablo Sandoval to swing and miss at this fastball:

Sandoval1_medium

Leading off the eighth, Charlie Furbush got Pablo Sandoval to swing and miss at this fastball, and remember that Furbush throws left-handed:

Sandoval2_medium

Kevin Millwood was good enough, the Mariners' bullpen was terrific, and the lineup did some conventional and unconventional things in order to score seven runs. This was a pleasant game of baseball, where the past many have been unpleasant. Funny how one win against a good team can relieve so much despondence. Even if it's just temporary, you'd think it would take a few of these. Because of the despondence.

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