SAN DIEGO Aside from a sudden change in the earthsgravitational pull, Jeremy Affeldt isnt sure how Carlos Quentin managed totake a change-up at the ankles and bounce it over the top of the center fieldfence.
This wasnt just a tip-your-cap moment. This was a full-onhead scratcher.
That was not I would not call that a high-percentagepitch to get hit hard, said Affeldt, of the home run that tied the game in theeighth inning, took away what wouldve been Tim Lincecums first victory sinceApril 28 and proved costly in the Giants eventual 6-5 loss to the San DiegoPadres on Tuesday.
I guess I couldve thrown it 50 feet, Affeldt continued,thinking out loud. Ive done plenty of those. Maybe next time Ill just throwhim a knuckleball.
You tip your hat when guys do that. It just sucks when theydo it to tie a game.
From the box score, this wouldnt seem like a tip-your-hatkind of game especially because the Giants lost for the seventh consecutivetime with Lincecum on the mound. And extra especially because Lincecum onceagain struggled to stem a big rally when the Padres scored four runs in thesecond inning.
But even Lincecum couldnt feel too terrible about it as hedissected the inning. Cameron Maybins two-run double was the damaging hit, andit had all the elements of a fluke: A broken bat, a slider nearly in the dirt,a perfect spot in the outfield to fall.
So Lincecum was not dour or morose after his winless streakreached a career-high seven starts. It was easier for him to focus on whathappened after the second inning, when he began using his change-up more oftenwhile retiring 12 of 13 batters eight by strikeout.
Before he did that, though, he had himself a good steamsession in the dugout.
Well yeah, I was definitely (ticked) off because you cansee signs of stuff that happened before and youre trying your hardest to keepthings from unraveling, Lincecum said. I was just trying to collect myself,give myself a moment to vent and then get back, get focused and thats whathappened.
Lincecum acknowledged it isnt easy to walk out of theballpark seven consecutive times over a five-week span without whistling ahappy tune. Forget personal wins and losses. Were talking about the teamsresult here. Does he even remember what its like to hear music in the postgameclubhouse?
But he is keeping a level head about it.
As a starter, youve got to put your team in a position towin, Lincecum said. I havent been doing that up until now. Thats got to bemy focus point with however many months we have left. Thats what everybodysgoal is when they show up: Put any issue aside and win. Thats what were herefor.
This was the fourth time the Giants took a winning streak ofthree games or more into a Lincecum start. Theyve lost their momentum eachtime. But the vibe was different after this one.
The guys played well, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. Icant say enough about the way they battled and came back to get the lead. Thelongball hurt us, but I like the way we played.
If there is an alarm to sound, go with the power outage. TheGiants have played eight games without going deep. Unbelievably, they own onehome run in their last 19 home games. Unless youre the 1985 Cardinals, thereis little precedent for a team with almost no power to sustain winning ways.Just ask Bochy: Hed rather play Earl Weaver-style baseball than Whiteyball anyday.
The Padres did not scrap to win. They hit three home runs,including Quentins tying shot in the eighth and Logan Forsythes first majorleague homer, a walk-off shot in the ninth.
(Bochy acknowledged he was saving Sergio Romo for apotential save situation, with Santiago Casilla still unavailable except in an emergency.Thats why Steve Edlefsen had to get the ball in the ninth.)
So as plucky as the Giants were in turning a 4-0 deficitinto a 5-4 lead, the lack of power definitely did them no favors Tuesday night.
Its not like Lincecum can do anything about that. His videogame avatar cant go deep, so he isnt about to try in real life. All he can dois take the mound Sunday against the Texas Rangers, perhaps the most talentedlineup in the major leagues, and try to execute his pitches.
Ive putmyself in a big hole and I feel Im finally crawling out of it, he said. Theresstill the crooked numbers but the innings outside of those, I feel better.
And that crooked number against the Padres nearly wasnt socrooked.
Nine times out of 10 if I throw that same pitch (toMaybin), maybe its a double play, Lincecum said.
There was no shame in his 8-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio,either. It was his lowest walks total since his third start of the season.
Nice, he said, eagerly. Thank you for bringing that to myattention.
If not for Quentins hovercraft homer off Affeldt, Lincecummight have been able to whistle his way out of the ballpark.
You know, that stuff happens with wins, said Ryan Theriot,who led the comeback charge with three RBI hits. They can be deceiving.Werent we just talking about Matty (Cain) getting to .500 for his career? Andthats a guy who just dominates.
Im not worried about (Lincecum) at all. He looks confidentout there when he takes the mound. Baseball is funny. One inch can make all thedifference. I can vouch for that.
Everyone could. For one night, anyway.