SAN FRANCISCO – Tim Lincecum’s reinvention as a pitcher crashed on takeoff Wednesday night. He’s got five days to figure out whether it was a launch failure or a design flaw.
And thankfully for him, he’s got a little more time –- two months and change -- to figure out how to sneak something past Paul Goldschmidt.
That might not be long enough.
Goldschmidt was the norovirus on Lincecum’s pleasure cruise yet again, heaving a three-run home run in the first inning. Lincecum never recovered from that and neither did the Giants in a 7-3 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks at AT&T Park.
Gerardo Parra faced Lincecum three times and picked up every element of the cycle except the double. Goldschmidt added a sacrifice fly as the Diamondbacks scored seven runs and knocked out Lincecum after just four highly flawed innings.
Starting pitching report
So much for crappy contact.
That’s what Lincecum (0-1) planned to induce this season. But you can’t expect to keep pitches off the barrel when you serve them down the heart of the plate – especially to Goldschmidt, who entered 12 for 23 against Lincecum and tagged his sixth home run off him last week at Chase Field.
Parra tripled to start the game and a four-pitch walk to Miguel Prado brought Goldschmidt to the plate with runners at the corners. It’s hard to envision many scenarios where a pitcher should issue a walk before recording an out in the first inning. This might have been one of those times.
Lincecum tossed in a get-ahead curve for a strike and missed with a slider before throwing a fastball on the outer half. Goldschmidt stayed with the 1-1 pitch and drove it into the right field arcade – a rare opposite-field shot for a right-handed hitter at AT&T Park.
Sammy Sosa, Alfonso Soriano, Ryan Zimmerman … those are the right-handed hitters that come to mind who found the arcade. In 15 seasons at AT&T Park, it was just the 22nd home run hit there by a right-handed hitter.
There’s nothing crappy about that contact.
When Lincecum wasn’t falling behind in the count, he was wild in the strike zone. Eric Chavez tripled as part of a two-run third inning, which also included a moral-victory sacrifice fly from Goldschmidt on a first-pitch changeup.
Lincecum struggled again in the fourth. He couldn’t put away pitcher Bronson Arroyo with two out, and Parra followed the single by clanking one off the green metal roof atop the arcade to make it 7-2.
There was no way Lincecum would come out for the fifth, even if his spot in the order weren’t due up. Goldschmidt was leading off the next inning. At least these two can't tangle again until the next visit to Chase Field June 20-22.
Lincecum, Ryan Vogelsong and Matt Cain have combined to allow nine home runs in 25 innings this season, as Steve Berman of BayAreaSportsGuy.com noodled out.
Yusmeiro Petit struck out Goldschmidt to start the fifth, fooling him so badly that he threw his bat into the Giants dugout. The only surprise is that it didn’t hit Lincecum, too.
At the plate
Even with fog creeping below the light standards in center field, the Giants kept their power show going.
Michael Morse crushed Arroyo’s first pitch in the second inning and sent it more than halfway up the left field bleachers for his first home run at AT&T Park as a Giant. It was a 449-foot shot, according to ESPN’s Home Run tracker, and only two home runs all of last year (Pablo Sandoval and Chris Davis) traveled further at Third and King.
The Giants got back another run in the third when Pence hit an RBI ground out, but they minimized what could’ve been a bigger rally against Arroyo.
Buster Posey added a line drive home run that might have dented a seat after it barely cleared the cartoon cars down the left field line. It was Posey’s third home run in nine games this season, after he hit just two after the All-Star break last year.
The Giants continue to lead the majors with 14 homers in nine games. But both were solo shots Wednesday night, and the Giants were reminded that winning at home usually begins with a quality start.
Pagan stayed hot, though. He has hit safely in all nine games and has seven multi-hit performances among them after going 3 for 5 to raise his average to .362.
Second baseman Joaquin Arias made one of the flashiest plays of the season, reacting and diving to snag Prado’s line drive despite being screened by umpire Manny Gonzalez. Unfortunately for the Giants, it came right after Parra’s home run in the fourth.
Goldschmidt made Arizona’s play of the day, ranging all the way into the Diamondbacks’ bullpen to catch an over-the-shoulder foul pop to end the eighth.
The Giants announced 41,157 paid, and at least they got a sunglasses-wearing, scooter-riding Hunter Pence bobblehead as a consolation prize.
As for Pence, he was 0 for 4 with three left on base, dropping his average to .111.
The Giants and Diamondbacks complete their three-game series with the rubber match at AT&T Park on Thursday. Ryan Vogelsong (0-0, 9.00 ERA) takes the mound against right-hander Randall Delgado (0-1, 11.57). First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. PDT.