In each of the last two seasons, Tim Lincecum has led the NL in
strikeouts, been named an All-Star and won the Cy Young Award. One
thing the San Francisco Giants right-hander has never accomplished
is win his first two starts of a season.
Lincecum gets that chance Sunday at AT&T Park, where the
Giants will try to bounce back from their first loss of the season
and prevent the Atlanta Braves from winning their first series in
San Francisco since 2005.
While lasting just three innings in last season’s opening-day
start, Lincecum (1-0, 0.00 ERA) was brilliant Monday against
Houston, retiring 16 of the first 18 batters he faced while
striking out seven in seven scoreless innings. All four hits he
allowed in his 98-pitch outing were singles.
“Considering last year – I had that in the back of my mind, just
go more than three (innings),” Lincecum told the Giants’ official
Web site following the 5-2 victory.
Lincecum has gone at least five innings in each of his six
career starts against the Braves. But after winning his first five
starts in this matchup, Lincecum allowed four runs and seven hits
over five innings in a 4-2 loss in Atlanta on July 22.
After picking up last season’s Cy Young Award trophy on
Saturday, the 25-year-old right-hander looks to avoid a second
straight loss to the Braves, who won 7-2 on Saturday and handed the
Giants (4-1) their first loss of the season.
“Overall I thought we were off tonight,” manager Bruce Bochy
said after his team tied a San Francisco record with four wild
pitches. “It wasn’t a clean game for us. We’d been playing so well
and we just had an off night.”
After snapping a five-game slide in San Francisco, the Braves
(3-2) go for their first series win there since taking two of three
July 18-20, 2005.
Another big game from 20-year-old rookie Jason Heyward and
Martin Prado could help Atlanta accomplish that.
Hayward was 0 for 9 in his previous two games, including an
0-for-5 effort in Friday’s 5-4, 13-inning loss to the Giants, but
he walked twice and went 3 for 3 with a homer and two RBIs
Prado made his second straight start at third for the injured
Chipper Jones (strained right oblique), and posted his fifth
straight multihit game. Prado is batting a major league-best
Kenshin Kawakami makes his season debut for Atlanta in the
series finale. The 34-year-old right-hander went 7-12 with a 3.86
ERA in 32 games – 25 starts – last season, his first in the majors
after winning 112 games in 11 seasons in Japan.
Kawakami developed a blister on his right index finger at the
end of the Grapefruit League season, but with a sinker added to his
pitching repertoire, he feels confident heading into his second
major league season.
“The results are showing that I’m pitching good, so I think I’m
looking good heading into the season,” Kawakami told the Braves’
official Web site through his interpreter.
Kawakami is 0-1 with a 3.38 ERA in two starts against San
Giants shortstop Edgar Renteria went 0 for 5 on Saturday, but is
still batting .524 – third in the majors.