Well, that was a bummer. You try not to get too hung up on individual games this time of year, especially when you're still 8 games over .500. The A's outplayed us in their home yard. Our offense was again silent, aside from a Cody Ross solo shot. Our defense was a bit spotty. Tim was outpitched by a rookie. As I've said, it's just a game... a game we would liked to have won, but hey, you try to win them all right?
Tonight's game got me thinking about something that's crossed my mind many times over the past year or so. It's something that, as a self-proclaimed diehard fan, I'm ashamed to admit. But it's a question that definitely weighs on my mind from time to time. Has Tim Lincecum seen his best days? First off, I must say that I understand how ridiculous it seems to ask such a question of a pitcher who's won consecutive Cy Youngs and a World Series title in his first 3 full seasons at the big league level. Believe me, I love Timmy as much as the next person. I root for him every night, and I'm proud to have him on the team. We most certainly wouldn't have won the title without him. But after a guy goes nearly two full seasons without missing a beat, then blows up like he did last August, and again as it seems he is right now, you can't help but wonder.
Obviously, only time will tell if Tim's career continues to soar, or if he regresses a bit in the following seasons. But I think I might have found the reason behind this questioning. Simply put, Timmy is just a bit unpredictable these days. Sometimes when he's on the mound, he looks invincible. He looks like the Lincecum of 2008, who was almost undoubtedly the best pitcher in all of baseball. His changeup is unhittable as he motors through 7 or 8 innings with only a slight hiccup or two. On some nights, he looks like a Cy Young winner again.
But then there are those other games. Those games when Timmy is off. And I must say, when he's off, he's definitely off. Yes, he has set such a high bar for himself, that even in a start like tonight against Oakland, when he lasts 6 innings and allows only a few runs, he just doesn't look right. His head seems to be in another world as he forgets runners on base, misses the strike zone constantly on first pitches, and lets little things rattle him. But come on, when you win back-to-back Cy Youngs, of course people are going to expect greatness from you. Is it fair? Probably not. But is it reality? I think so.
To me, the biggest difference between Lincecum and pitchers like Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander, and Felix Hernandez, is the consistency. It's not the win totals, as we all know it's tough for ANY pitcher to win 20 games with the offense we have in SF. It's not the strikeout numbers, as Timmy has lead the NL in those for seemingly more years than I can remember. I think it's the mindset, the focus. For whatever reason, he seems to find himself in a funk from time to time, like right now. Let's hope he can bounce out of it soon, and return to the form that we all know he is capable of. God knows we can't afford to lose our pitching consistency now.
Looking for a rebound win tomorrow as the A's throw another rookie at Johnny Sanchez. Hum Babe Giants!