Right-hander allows three earned runs over 5 2/3 innings in loss to Orioles
By Ben Raby
Special to MLB.com |
BALTIMORE -- After four starts with the Angels, Tim Lincecum had pitched into the fifth inning only once and had just one win to show for it. So the right-hander made a slight adjustment in his preparation ahead of start No. 5 by throwing two bullpen sessions leading up to Sunday's series finale against the Orioles.
Lincecum said the extra session left him confident in his mechanics heading into the final game before the All-Star break and despite dropping the final game of the first half, a 4-2 loss in Baltimore, he was encouraged with the outing.
"I felt like I challenged guys pretty well," Lincecum said. "I was controlling both sides of the plate with my fastball. A couple of breaking balls up here and there put me in jams early on in the innings, but I made some pitches when I had to and the defense made some plays behind me."
Ultimately, though, it was a defensive miscue that kept Lincecum from finishing the sixth inning and matching his longest start of the year.
Lincecum appeared on his way to his first 1-2-3 frame in the sixth after striking out Matt Wieters and Jonathan Schoop on nine pitches. But when neither shortstop Andrelton Simmons or left fielder Ji-Man Choi could reel in a Pedro Alvarez fly ball to shallow left for the third out, the inning extended. Simmons was settling under the ball, but backed off at the last moment when he heard Choi yell.
"I said, 'You got it,'" Choi explained after the game. "Next time, I don't say anything."
The ball dropped in for a double, and with Alvarez racing towards second, Simmons committed a throwing error that allowed Alvarez to take third. J.J. Hardy connected on an RBI single one pitch later, ending Lincecum's day with the Angels down 3-1.
Lincecum threw 5 2/3 innings, allowing nine hits and three runs with two walks and four strikeouts.
"That's the best we've seen Tim and that's a pretty good lineup that you've got to work hard to get through," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He made very few mistakes, I thought he executed his pitches well and should have been through six innings."
"You can't live off of should've, could've, would've," Lincecum said. "So I just try to think about what I can control, and today I did a better job of controlling my part of the game -- pitching on both sides of the plate, the fastball felt better and I sustained it in the later innings."
Sunday's start was a solid bounce back for Lincecum after he allowed 10 hits and five runs in 4 2/3 innings July 5 against the Rays. The biggest blemish for Lincecum on Sunday was a two-run homer by Chris Davis that gave Baltimore a 2-1 lead in the fourth.
"It was a lot better than last time," Lincecum said after throwing 102 pitches, 65 of which were strikes. "I was able to sustain my pitch count through the later innings in the fifth and sixth. I controlled the first three innings a little bit better. Obviously the fastball up to Davis -- 2-1, I just left it up, and he put a good swing on it."
Before Sunday's game, Scioscia said Lincecum needs to understand that he's not the same pitcher he was four or five years ago and improve his pitch selection combinations while taking advantage of his fastball. Lincecum felt he did that Sunday.
"Today I was using my fastball a little bit more, and I felt confident in that, and this was the first game that I felt confident in my fastball in all six innings," Lincecum said.
Street exits with cramp
Huston Street left the game in the eighth inning because of cramping in his left hamstring, but he and the Angels don't believe it's anything serious.
"I don't think so," Street said. "Did some strength tests postgame, more for my head than anything. We have four days, and then we'll see what it feels like."
Scioscia said removing Street was a precautionary move, not wanting his closer to extend himself because of the cramping. The Angels' closer, who missed more than a month this season with a strained oblique, has seven saves in 21 appearances and a 5.09 ERA.
Ben Raby is a contributor to MLB.com based in Baltimore. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.