ST. LOUIS (BaseballStL) -- The Giants were asking a lot from Game 4 starter Tim Lincecum in his first start this postseason.
The two-time Cy Young winner was relegated to the bullpen for the beginning of the playoffs after posting a 10-15 record and a career-high 5.18 earned run average in 33 starts this season.
In three relief appearances this postseason, Lincecum allowed one run and three hits in 8.1 innings pitched -- a far cry from the struggles he had this regular season.
With a 2-1 deficit in the National League Championship Series, Lincecum got the nod to try to shut down a Cardinals offense which ranked near the top of the league in almost every offensive category this season. It was a task that he appeared to be overwhelmed by.
Lincecum allowed the first three batters in the game to reach and two runs to score in the 25-pitch first inning. After two innings, he had already hurled 44 pitches. In the third inning, Molina nearly had a home run (extra bases, at the least) on a hard hit ball to deep center field which resulted in a leaping catch by Angel Pagan. He had thrown 69 pitches through four innings and had not allowed a batter to reach for two innings, seven batters in a row retired to be exact.
He was settling in. It appeared that the Cardinals chances were long past.
Then Matt Carpenter, who hit a go-ahead home run in Game 3, doubled off the wall with one out and was followed by an RBI single hit by Matt Holliday in the fifth inning. The lead was getting bigger; the game was for the Cardinals’ taking.
Lincecum struck out the next batter, Allen Craig, but then there was Yadier Molina with a man on second base and two outs. Molina, who had no RBI in the NLCS, singled up the middle to score Holliday from second base – a good time to collect your first RBI of the series.
The 5’11”, 175 pound starter would not see the sixth inning. He was relieved by George Kontos before the damage could get any worse than it already was, a 4-1 score in the fifth inning.
Lincecum’s final line: 4.2 innings pitched, six hits allowed, four runs (all earned) allowed, three walks, three strikeouts.