"Rookie might be skipped"
Lincecum's rotation spot may be bypassed after another erratic start
By Andrew Baggarly - MediaNews Staff (ContraCosta Times.com)
06/19/2007 03:01:20 AM PDThttp://www.contracostatimes.com/giants/ ... ck_check=1
MILWAUKEE -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy believes his players are trying too hard to turn around their sagging club.
That's especially dangerous when you're a 23-year-old just a few months removed from sociology classes and frat parties.
Tim Lincecum couldn't find the strike zone and allowed six runs in the first two innings, pitching the Giants out of Tuesday's 6-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.
Lincecum also might have pitched himself out of the rotation -- at least temporarily. Bochy said he and his coaches have discussed skipping Lincecum's next start, which the club can afford to do because they have a day off Thursday. In fact, they could go until July 8 -- the final game before the All-Star break -- without using a fifth starter again.
"We'll talk again tomorrow morning," Bochy said. "This is a young kid and he hasn't been in professional ball long. ... Despite the stuff he has, it's not that easy of a game."
Bochy thought Lincecum might have tried too hard to reverse the team's fortunes. Given their plight, that's a job better suited to a tractor-trailer.
The Giants have lost six consecutive games; they are one more loss away from getting swept in Wisconsin and skunked on this road trip.
In five games at Boston and Milwaukee, the Giants have not led at the conclusion of any inning. They have trailed in 40 of 45 innings.
This is what happens when a slumping offensive team receives a sour turn through the rotation. Over the past five games, Giants starting pitchers are 0-5 with a 9.00 ERA and have survived the sixth inning just once -- Matt Cain's gem in a 1-0 loss at Boston on Saturday.
No wonder it was hopeless once Lincecum walked four in the first two innings, including Prince Fielder with the bases loaded. Fielder's two-run double in the second was the costliest blow.
Lincecum might have worked too hard in the bullpen to keep his pitches down in the zone, because they grazed the dirt and the Brewers took them. When Lincecum compensated and tried to elevate pitches for strikes, they were either in the hitting zone or forced catcher Guillermo Rodriguez to jump out of his crouch to catch them.
Lincecum is 0-2 with a 10.61 ERA over his past four starts; he was 2-0 with a 3.08 ERA over his first five. His past three outings have been the most erratic, with 13 walks in 12 innings. He hasn't survived the fifth inning in any of them.
"This kid will learn from this," Bochy said. "Unfortunately, this is part of his maturing and developing as a pitcher."
Lincecum has worn his self-doubts on his sleeve in postgame comments after his past two starts.
"I'm not confident in what I've got and trusting it," he said. "That's what I've got to do to get back on track."
Lincecum also said he needs to step off the rubber, breathe deeper and take more time between pitches.
"Because every pitch has its purpose," he said.
Ben Sheets definitely pitched with intent. He tossed a six-hitter for his second complete game of the season and improved to 7-1 over his past 10 starts.
Ryan Klesko's two-run homer was the Giants' only offense. Barry Bonds was 0-for-3 with a walk; he struck out while taking a vicious swing on a 95 mph fastball in the fourth inning.
Now the Giants have to figure out what to do with Lincecum, who could benefit from the same treatment Matt Cain received when he was struggling last season. He turned around his year after coaches decided to skip his turn and give him a relief appearance in May.
"If it worked out for Cain, we're similar pitchers, so it might work for me too," Lincecum said.
(Contact Andrew Baggarly at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org