MLB: When compared to Rockies' Jimenez, the back seat belongs to Lincecum
By Andrew Baggarly
San Jose Mercury News
SAN FRANCISCO — It's a well-traveled anecdote: For a few weeks after Tim Lincecum picked up his second consecutive Cy Young Award, the Giants' charming, chilled-out ace kept the two shiny trophies in the back seat of his car.
On a bright Monday afternoon at AT&T Park, the back seat found Lincecum.
He was no match for Ubaldo Jimenez, who unleashed lightning from his fingertips while pitching a four-hitter as the Colorado Rockies dealt the Giants a convincing 4-0 loss.
If they handed out Cy Young ballots today, there's little doubt Jimenez would end Lincecum's run. The Rockies' lanky ace is 10-1 with a 0.78 ERA after 11 starts. He owns a scoreless streak of 26 innings—eclipsing his 251/3-inning scoreless run earlier this season.
His other shutout this year? Oh yeah. His April 17 no-hitter at Atlanta.
Since 1990, only five pitchers had won their 10th game before June 1, and there isn't a flash in this pan: John Smoltz, Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling and Brandon Webb.
Jimenez joined that impressive list, striking out nine while throwing a 99 mph fastball that screeched unfairly like a caffeinated slider. He threw one to Aubrey Huff in the second inning as rookie phenom Buster Posey gulped in the on-deck circle.
Posey entered the day 6 for 9. He went 0 for 3 with a strikeout against Jimenez.
"It's baseball. I've had plenty of 0-fers at Triple-A, too," Posey said. "I was excited to face him. You have to tip your cap today."
Jimenez wobbled a bit in the ninth, but his 128th and final pitch was a 95 mph fastball that Juan Uribe lined out to left field.
"He's not interested in pitching a bad game," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "And he may not "... he may not."
Until recently, Giants fans had the same expectation for Lincecum. But he was no match for Jimenez and again lacked control while laboring through 52/3 innings.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Lincecum "should feel better about this outing. I think it's starting to come back for him. I'm not concerned right now."
Lincecum was anything but sunny, though.
"I try to take a little bit away from every game, something positive, and not sit too much on the negative," Lincecum said. "There's too much negative going on right now."
The Giants lost for the third consecutive time with Lincecum on the mound—something that hadn't happened since the final three outings of his rookie season in 2007.
He is 0-2 with an 8.22 ERA in his past three starts. And he became the first pitcher in the club's 53-year San Francisco history to issue as many as five walks in four consecutive outings.
It should be noted that two of Lincecum's five walks Monday were intentional. It also should be noted that he had fallen behind both of those hitters 2-0 before Bochy signaled to put them aboard.
Lincecum wasn't hit hard, but he put himself in a prone position.
Clint Barmes dug a changeup out of the dirt for a two-out single in the second inning, which would have been innocuous on its own. But Lincecum had issued two walks and allowed a stolen base, turning Barmes' fluky bouncer up the middle into a two-run dagger.
After that, Jimenez didn't toy around.
"If we got ahead, the only thing I needed to do was go out there and throw a lot of strikes and make them swing the bat," the Dominican native said. "My adrenaline was really high. Everyone was (anticipating) the game, from my parents to my neighbors, everybody in my country and back in Denver, too. I was excited to be out there."
Lincecum acknowledged he put pressure on himself to match Jimenez.
"It's pretty unreal," he said. "You've got to be pretty dang good to do what he's doing right now."