Lincecum in relief: Doesn't work, doesn't hurt, was cool anyway

David Brown
October 24, 2010
View photos

Manager Bruce Bochy pushed almost all of the right bullpen buttons for the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS.

Bringing in ace Tim Lincecum(notes) to pitch in relief Saturday night was an exception.

It didn't really work. It didn't really hurt.

But wow, it was awesome. Lincecum on one day of rest. What a way to ramp up the tension in an already exciting game.

If you didn't get goose pimples — tiny ones, anyway — watching Timmy come in from the pen, either you already had them or you're medically prevented from getting them. It was his first relief appearance since April 2008 and it was coming after a 104-pitch effort Thursday night in Game 5.

Even if you don't have a dog in the hunt, there's something about the all-hands-on-deck tactics of elimination baseball; It quickens the blood, dampens the brow, tightens the gizzard.

Lincecum was Bochy's fourth reliever after starter Jonathan Sanchez(notes), who was taken out after two ineffective innings. And after Lincecum struck out Jayson Werth(notes) to lead off the eighth, Bochy looked like a genius.

View photos

But Lincecum's relief success was short-lived. He hung breaking pitches, allowing back-to-back singles to Shane Victorino(notes) and Raul Ibañez, before Bochy called on closer Brian Wilson(notes).

Via MLB.com:

"We've got Wilson in the closing role, and he's come in for inning-plus saves before. He knows what he's doing," [Lincecum said.]

Wilson wriggled from the jam thanks to a double play, and got three more outs in the ninth, for the pennant-clinching save. If Wilson surrenders the lead — even in the ninth after exerting himself and the Philly lineup turning over — Bochy would have been second-guessed for using Lincecum in the setup role with others (including Wilson) available.

But the Giants got through it, won the game and the pennant. Further, Lincecum says his 16-pitch appearance won't affect his availability for Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday.

"I fully expect to make the start," Lincecum said. "It's not like they told me to get ready for Game 1. They just said, 'Get ready for your next start.' So I think that's what they're talking about, yeah."

So there it is. Excitement created, distress averted, World Series gained, ace ready to go.

Genius.

Follow Big League Stew all through the postseason on Twitter and on Facebook.