The San Francisco Giants received a bit of a scare on Tuesday when All-Star Tim Lincecum was struck in the right knee by a line drive and had to leave the game. While it was a disconcerting sight to see their young phenom limp off the field, they were reassured to learn he would not miss a start.
Lincecum hopes to come back strong when he takes the ball Sunday and help the Giants bounce back from a rough loss as they continue their four-game series against the Atlanta Braves.
Lincecum (12-3, 2.67 ERA) has been one of the few bright spots for disappointing San Francisco (51-71), as he leads the team in victories, the NL in strikeouts (182) and has the fifth-best ERA in the majors.
The Giants lost to the Braves 11-5 on Saturday, their fifth defeat in six games. San Francisco has yielded 39 runs in those losses, and the team hopes Lincecum can end the onslaught.
Lincecum was again cruising on Tuesday at Houston before having to leave with one out in the fifth inning after being hit on the knee. The 24-year-old right-hander fell to the ground as manager Bruce Bochy and the team’s medical staff rushed to check on him. Lincecum left after allowing two runs and one hit with seven strikeouts, and the Giants eventually lost 12-4.
He was diagnosed with a bone bruise, but one day later the competitive Lincecum said he felt “100 percent” sure he would make his next start.
“He’s not even a question mark,” Bochy said of Lincecum on the team’s official Web site.
Lincecum has been outstanding lately, but a lack of run support and the inability of his bullpen to hold leads has cost him some victories. He is 1-0 in his last four starts, despite a 2.05 ERA and 39 strikeouts over 26 1-3 innings in those outings.
In his only start against the Braves (56-67) this season on Aug. 6, Lincecum gave up two runs and five hits with eight strikeouts in eight innings of a 3-2 victory. He has posted a 3.32 ERA in winning his three career starts over Atlanta.
The Braves snapped a five-game losing streak with Saturday’s victory, after scoring 11 total runs during their skid.
Jeff Francoeur, who is in the midst of a disappointing season, appears to be getting out of his funk. Francoeur, who is batting just .233 with 10 home runs, finished with a season-high four hits and two RBIs on Saturday, and is 7-for-14 with a homer, five RBIs and four runs in his last three games.
“I think he’s found something,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said.
On Sunday, Cox gives the ball to rookie Charlie Morton (3-6, 6.11), who makes his first career start against the Giants.
Morton gave up four runs, four hits and four walks in only 2 1-3 innings of a 10-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs in the first game of a day-night doubleheader on Wednesday. The right-hander had trouble making his pitches against the Cubs after going 1-1 with a 1.29 ERA in his previous two outings.
Morton now tries to bounce back at Turner Field, where he has been awful, going 0-5 with a 9.00 ERA in six starts.
The Braves have also been struggling at home lately, as Saturday’s victory snapped a five-game losing streak at Turner Field. They have won only three of their last 14 in Atlanta, and have not won consecutive home games in a series since June 21 and 22 against Seattle.