Sunday, July 14, 2013
Along about the bottom of the fourth inning last night, after Tim Lincecum had disposed of the middle of the San Diego Padres' lineup the way some of us dispose of used Kleenex, we had a strong jolt of precognition (we used to call this presque vu but found out that's inaccurate). Sure as you're reading this now, we saw the final line for the Padres-- no runs, no hits-- and expressed it colloquially as, "He's gonna do it, Timmy's gonna throw one."
Bless his heart, that he did, and he did so in classic Lincecum fashion-- lots of pitches, lots of strikeouts, thirteen in all.
And yet if "classic Lincecum fashion" is a term that will carry significance going forward, it's also going to mean what Jedd Gyorko, one of those "disposable" Padres, talked about after the masterpiece: "He was throwing three or four pitches for strikes, and when you're able to do that, you keep guys off-balance." Lincecum himself said, "I have to pitch with what I've got. That might be more changeups and sliders."
Indeed, there were several strikeouts last night which Timmy achieved without use of a single fastball. He was dumping some nasty curveballs inside and out, and when he finally did get around to throwing the four-seamer, a few times the batter simply let it go by for called strike three.
Is Timmy going to make the adjustment that has overwhelmed so many ultra-talented pitchers before him, when raw "stuff" is no longer enough and pitching becomes more about strategy and less about power? Catfish Hunter, so smooth where Lincecum is so angular, famously made it. Could Sandy Koufax, Lincecum's mirror image in some ways, have handled that transition had he chosen to do so at age 31? Lincecum is 29. He's thrown a lot of pitches. He's won every significant award that can be won. He's already shown that while he may be "The Freak", his career has been no freak occurrence. Now, just perhaps, his given the first telling indicator of what's to come.
But for today, for last night, for right now, he bears the self-evident nickname we coined back in 2008: "LinCYcum."
Congratulations, Timmy! You've earned it.