Tim Lincecum is a graphic novel, and given the events of Games 2 and 4 of this National league Division Series, the story is much fuller and plot-driven now.
Never mind that he had a lousy year lots of very good players do that at least once. Never mind that Giant fans and media chased miscellaneous tails for nearly a month trying to figure out what his role, if any, might be in the postseason.
His role is much worse than one could have imagined he is the idealized version of Guillermo Mota. And his results are galactically better.
People didnt notice all that much in Game 2, as his two innings tended to blur amid the smoking wreckage of the Giants 9-0 loss to Cincinnati. But Wednesday, his 4 13 innings in San Franciscos 8-3 Game 4 victory were exemplary, saving Barry Zito a humiliating potential defeat, eating up half the game and stomping on the Redlegs from the worrisome fourth to the anticlimactic ninth.
He allowed two hits and one run, none to either of Cincinnatis three best hitters, Joey Votto, Jay Bruce or Brandon Phillips. He struck out six, more than he had in 15 of his 33 regular season starts. He threw 55 pitches, 42 for strikes, a percentage of 76 percent (he was barely at 61 percent for the regular season).
He was, in short and in sum, the Lincecum he has been far too seldom for Giant tastes this year. And on a day that was San Franciscos from Angel Pagans home run two pitches into the day to Santiago Casllas uneventful ninth, Lincecum was the tale to be told.
Now before you get too far ahead of yourselves, this is not his place in the Giants future hierarchy. Long men dont get 20 million a year, and that isnt how Lincecums career ends unless the graphic novel has a very bad ending and is drawn by Frank Miller.
Not only that, the likelihood that he can make an appearance in Game 5 is unlikely, as he is not really built for that kind of workload. Oh, he could be a proud member of Johnny All-Staff if need be, but that would be only in an emergency, and a dire one at that.
Thus, the story only rises to a new plot point if the Giants win Game 5 Thursday behind Matt Cain, and San Francisco faces either St. Louis or Washington in the National League Championship Series. Heroes typically are not made in the game before the last one.
But redemption is always a nice hook, and between the two quiet innings he threw Sunday and the four dominant ones he threw Wednesday, Lincecum is the fresh beneficiary of fans notoriously short memory spans. Not just Giants fans, but fans in general. Two days ago, Coco Crisp was an iron-handed failure, and Tuesday he saved the Athletics considerable bacon.
Thats how the postseason plays not momentum-based, but event-based. Wednesday, Tim Lincecum reminded his constituents that he still has some events left in him. But it is still a strictly off-Broadway kind of stardom. Tim Lincecum didnt master the art of being Guillermo Mota. He just showed that he will not go quietly, and his graphic novel will not end with the thud of an oatmeal balloon.