San Francisco, CA – The first batters were lucky, Omar Infante doubled on a fly ball to center field and Jason Heyward flew out to left field. After taking a deep breath, Tim Lincecum had a talk with himself to calm down before he “unleashed the beast” through nine innings.
“I told myself, don’t worry about it, make your pitches and everything will be fine,” Lincecum said. “You tell yourself, you’ve done this a thousand times!” “We’ve been in these situations, it’s another game and just treat it like that.”
It was far from another game, Lincecum made history by striking out 14 batters in his first postseason appearance. The Giants beat the Atlanta Braves in game 1 of the National League Division series 1-0.
Lincecum erased San Francisco’s franchise record of 10 strikeouts in a postseason game. This fete was last accomplished by Jack Sanford in game 5 of the 1962 World Series at Yankee Stadium.
Other previous Giants records were also held by these pitchers, Hal Schumacher Oct 5, 1936 vs Yankees, Carl Hubbell Oct 3, 1933 vs Senators and Jesse Barnes Oct 11, 1921 vs Yankees.
An unbelievable performance tonight by the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner. He retired 19 of 20 batters and was at his best when striking out the side in the second inning. The nine strikes Lincecum threw made 12 of 14 batters swing and miss.
“He was lights out,” said manager Bobby Cox. We had two runners at second base the whole night and that was it.” “I don’t know how many he struck out but it was more than fingers on my hand.”
The Braves managed two successful hits coming from Infante and Brain McCann who also doubled in the seventh frame. These were the only two pitches that prevented the 26-year old from a “no-hitter” as Roy Halladay did the night before when the Philadelphia Phillies hosted the Cincinnati Reds.
“It was a pitcher’s duel, both teams got here based on pitching and there’s no secret about that,” Aubrey Huff said. “We got lucky to score a run, Derek Lowe was deeply as good, I’ve faced him a couple of times in my career and never seen his sinker do what is was doing tonight.”
Lowe was good but nothing in comparison to Lincecum’s night. He allowed both Buster Posey and Cody Ross to single that resulted in a defensive mistake from Infante who dived after Ross’s ground ball that rolled past him for the Giants first and only run in the game.
Posey began the fourth frame with a leadoff single and recorded his first stolen base at second. Lowe struck out the next two batters, Pat Burrell and Juan Uribe. He intentionally walked Pablo Sandoval under estimating Ross, which led to his first career postseason hit and RBI.
“I wasn’t surprised by Lowe’s intentionally walking Pablo, they felt it would be a better matchup,” Ross said. “Early in my career I probably would’ve took it to heart but I knew Timmy was behind me trying to make a perfect pitch.” “It was truly the biggest hit of my career and I just have nothing to compare.”
Posey’s steal was called safe but looked otherwise from the replays. Umpire Paul Emmel made the call though Atlanta disagreed hoping it would still give them life after making such a “gusty” decision to walk Sandoval while first base was open.
“We probably got a break,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “In a game like this you take it.”
Written by: Malaika Bobino