A week ago, Tim Lincecum was mowing down batters in another impressive minor league start. On Sunday night, the San Francisco Giants’ top pitching prospect will make his major league debut before the bright lights of a national audience.
The right-hander, selected 10th overall in the 2006 first-year player draft from Washington, has been dominating this year with Triple-A Fresno. Over five starts, Lincecum was 4-0 with an 0.29 ERA, allowing one run and 12 hits in 31 innings. He’s also struck out 46, including 14 last Sunday against Colorado Springs.
“I’m excited to see him, like everybody,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy told the team’s official Web site. “But I saw enough of this kid. He’s going to be fine. It’s not going to be one game that forms any judgment.”
Bochy saw what Lincecum, who turns 23 on June 15, could do in spring training, and said he could withstand the pressure that comes a big league debut.
“He knows the guys here and has that sense of belonging,” Bochy said. “Being a No. 1 pick, you’re used to getting some attention.”
Lincecum will be opposed by another pitcher with a lot of potential in the 23-year-old Hamels (3-1, 3.54 ERA), now in his second season. The left-hander’s best outing of his career came on the road against Cincinnati on April 21, when he pitched a five-hitter with 15 strikeouts in a 4-1 win.
But in his last two starts, Hamels is 1-1 with a 5.68 ERA and just 10 strikeouts. Facing Atlanta on Tuesday, Hamels bounced back after giving up three first-inning runs as the Phillies rallied for a 6-4 win.
“It’s tough to play against 10 people: nine of them and one of yourself,” said Hamels, who gave up four runs and nine hits over 7 1-3 innings. “I just had to bear down and let that first inning pass.”
Hamels will be making his first career start against the Giants, but apparently will not face Barry Bonds. The seven-time NL MVP is not expected to be in the starting lineup after hitting his 744th career home run in San Francisco’s 9-4 win on Saturday.
“He’s not going to talk me out of it,” Bochy said. “He needs a break. It’s not easy to not put his name in the lineup, but we have a lot of baseball left.”
The homer was the team-leading 10th for the 42-year-old Bonds, leaving him 11 shy of tying Hank Aaron’s all-time record. It also was the fifth time Bonds connected off Phillies starter Jon Lieber.
The solo shot gave Bonds 1,952 RBIs, moving into sole possession of fourth place on the career RBI list ahead of Stan Musial. Bonds also moved into a tie for third on the runs list with Aaron and Babe Ruth (2,174).
Eliezer Alfonzo also had a solo homer and Pedro Feliz added a three-run drive for the Giants, who will be going for their first three-game home winning streak over the Phillies since a 12-game run from 1998-2001.
Shane Victorino had two hits and scored twice in Saturday’s loss. In the first three games of the series, Victorino is hitting .667 (8-for-12) with six stolen bases and five runs for Philadelphia, which is trying to avoid its first three-game road skid since April 7-9.