SAN FRANCISCO Buster Posey absorbed a painful foul tip offhis right foot. He dived and shifted to keep balls in the dirt in front of him.One bounced up and hit him in the well, you know.
Posey formed a battery with Tim Lincecum for the first timesince June 16. And a battering is what he received.
How did he come through it?
Fine, Posey said. I told him he can beat me up as much ashe wants, as long as we get outs.
Said Lincecum: I know Im a little bit wild, effectivelywild at times. Ill throw balls in the dirt and he did a good job picking them.I know it can be rough catching me. Im not a paint-on-the-edge guy. Ill getyou to chase.
"He was out there with an open mind because of what wevebeen through. It was, 'Lets reconnect and get back to it.'"
Their connection has been questioned, if only because Giantsmanager Bruce Bochy curiously had Hector Sanchez or Eli Whiteside catch each ofLincecums seven previous starts. The right-hander was 2-8 with a 6.19 ERA,mostly working with Posey. He was 2-3 with a 5.26 ERA in the seven-start runwith Sanchez and Whiteside. No appreciable difference, really.
Bochy continued to insist that he got away from having Poseycatch Lincecum, in part, because of the physical toll it exacts to receive the two-time Cy Young Award winner.
Its true: Sanchez took a beating almost every time hecaught Lincecum. And Posey definitely had a couple appendages to ice down after theGiants 4-1 victory over the New York Mets.
It was a good hurt.
Buster and I had a good connection there and a goodunderstanding of what we wanted to do with the hitters, Lincecum said. Westuck with that.
Bochy might not stick with the battery, though. It wasobvious why Posey had to catch Lincecum on Tuesday: It wasnt a day game aftera night game, the Giants were playing short without Angel Pagan or PabloSandoval to occupy the No. 5 spot and they needed all the offense they couldmuster to break a five-game losing streak.
(The Giants are back in first place by their lonesome, bythe way, after the Dodgers lost to the Diamondbacks.)
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The next time, Sunday in Denver, Bochy might think more about preserving hisAll-Star catcher, who needs to be paced to avoid an overly cranky left ankle.
Hell catch him sometimes, said Bochy, who lauded Poseysgame-calling and ball-blocking skills. It depends on how he feels. I thoughtwe needed Buster out there and he did a great job. Its a situation when Busterneeds a break, someone else will catch (Lincecum).
What did Bochy see out of Lincecum, who threw his thirdquality start out of four?
I saw what we usually see, the manager said. He pitchedlike the Timmy that we know. He attacked the zone with all his pitches. Hewas under control, throwing quality strikes. He had great poise with the basesloaded, facing a quality hitter. Its hard to throw a better pitch than that.
That would be the 1-2 curveball that Lincecum spun to freezepinch hitter David Wright with the bases loaded in the seventh inning, endinghis night. As the sellout crowd met the moment with playoff-level intensity, itmight have been the most important pitch that Lincecum has thrown all season.
The crowd gave me an added edge there when they rose up to theirfeet and were loud as hell, Lincecum said. I knew I kind of wanted to go toit. Its one of those freeze pitches and I only threw a handful of them. It wasprobably my best one.
Is the whole Posey-Lincecum thing overblown? Possibly. But it was also significant to see them work so well together again. As the Giants go down the stretch and the big games become bigger games, and the bigger games become must-win games, the Giants won't be able to keep Posey on the catch three-of-five schedule. The crowds will be louder, the moments will become bigger -- and Lincecum will have to throw some more bases-loaded, 1-2 curveballs with conviction.
It was a good one," Posey said. "It was down in the zone. But what sets it up are the quality pitches he made inside.
And Posey was there to call them.
I believe in all my catchers that they can catch me,Lincecum said. And Buster, I think he handles me just fine. Obviously, right?
Angel Pagans left hand was wrapped and he said he learnedhis lesson after injuring himself while taking a frustration hack with a batMonday night.
Pagan had X-rays that did not reveal a fracture. Hes likelyto miss another game or two.
I made good contact, Pagan said, smiling. If you know theconsequences, you don't do it. I learned my lesson."
(Yes, its his left hand that he injured. Bochy originallyreported it was Pagans right hand.)