Urban: Lincecum's progress, Giants' silver lining

Urban: Lincecum's progress, Giants' silver lining
June 18, 2011, 6:26 am
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June 17, 2011

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Mychael Urban
CSNBayArea.com

Giants manager Bruce Bochy wasn't demonstrative, boisterous or even slightly emotive Friday night while discussing his club's loss to the suddenly energized A's.There was a resigned passivity to what he brought to the postage proceedings in his smallish temporary office at Old Testament Coliseum (or whatever they're calling it these days).While discussing his team's offense, which managed to earn itself all of one run on six hits and zero walks, Bochy didn't need to trot out any biblical bluster."We squandered some opportunities tonight," he said of San Francisco's bagel in six chances with runners in scoring position. And, "Our margin of error isn't that big. And, "We don't put a lot of runs on the board."And, "We didn't hit too many balls hard today."Of his club's defense, which was charged with only two errors but had a real Benny Hill thing going for a spell, he was similarly matter-of-fact."It wasn't awful," he said. "But it wasn't the cleanest game in the world."Not even close. It was to clean what Felix Unger -- Monica from "Friends," for you hipsters -- was to dirty.Yet while the totality of it all left Bochy doing a subtle Mrs. Lincoln after the play, it wasn't all bad.Tim Lincecum, for instance, took the loss and fell to 5-6 overall, but he did so while posting his first quality start of the month and showed signs that he's started to figure out the mechanical issues -- no, it was most definitely not all mental, gang -- that turned his ERA over the previous three June starts into something you might see in a Ponzi scheme return-rate promise (9.39).RELATED: Giants Insider gallery: Lifeless in Oakland
The good news was that the Franchise, pitching for the first time as a 27-year-old, struck out seven and held the A's to two earned runs over six innings."I was back to being more aggressive," he said. "Letting things go."The bad news is that his fastball command -- or lack thereof -- was less than perfect, leading to five free passes that forced him to battle early and often. Ergo the departure after a leadoff walk in the seventh, with a pitch count of 113. Some interesting interpretations of the strike zone by the plate ump on several breaking balls, as well as the shaky D, didn't help, but Lincecum himself conceded that he was "throwing breaking balls in fastball counts." He said it was, in part, to try to fool guys by pitching backwards, but it's not a leap over Snake River Canyon to assume it was in part because he's still waiting for the GPS that guides his heater to come back from the shop."I've just gotta be better," Lincecum said. "I'm not saying it's all the way back."Another positive to come out of the postgame skull session with Lincecum was the burning of the tired he-misses-Buster-Posey and he-can't-work-with-Eli-Whiteside crutches that some people are offering the two-time Cy. Chris Stewart caught Lincecum on Friday, and Lincecum was moderately better, but when asked if any of the aforementioned excuses fly, the Freak didn't hesitate to riddle them with a verbal shotgun blast."Not at all," he said, reminding everyone that the catcher is the suggestion box, but the pitcher bought the lock and holds the key.In other words, the pitcher's neck and head trump the backstop's fingers every time."It doesn't matter who they're throwing behind the plate," Lincecum said. "As the pitcher, you have the last say."So that settles that. What, exactly, has been Lincecum's problem? Well, not to get all Insidery, but he hasn't been getting his upper torso over his legs, which means his finely tuned core and Ryan-esque leg drive haven't been providing the power and synchronicity he relies on, and that seems to have shortened his giraffe-like stride.In far simpler terms, he's falling toward first base too early.These aren't incredibly quick fixes. Lincecum's windup is a classic concerto, and an extra 10 minutes in rehearsal doesn't mean you're ready for Carnegie Hall. But Friday suggested he's already started the process, and that's probably why Bochy was so chill after such an uninspired performance.For all the ugliness, the thought of Lincecum on the verge of finding himself again must have seemed downright beautiful.