They probably aren’t as fortunate that they’ll get their first look at the right-hander during what has perhaps been the most dominating stretch of his career.
Lincecum will try to continue that run as the red-hot Giants open a six-game homestand Friday against the reeling Reds, losers of eight straight on the road.
Every other NL team is familiar with Lincecum (12-3, 2.18 ERA), and the 25-year-old ace has beaten all of them except the New York Mets. He can become the league’s first 13-game winner Friday.
After being named the NL’s best pitcher last year, he has put up even better numbers this season, ranking second in the majors in ERA and needing nine strikeouts to become the first to reach 200.
He struck out at least eight in each of his last 10 starts, going 7-2 with a 1.39 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 77 2-3 innings over that span. He tossed eight innings in a 2-0 win over Philadelphia on Saturday.
Lincecum’s dominance has helped San Francisco (60-48) return to contention after four straight losing seasons. The Giants have won eight of 10 to improve their position in a tight wild card race with Colorado.
Lately, they’ve also been boosted by a resurgent offense, sparked by the arrival of Freddy Sanchez(notes). The infielder is 7 for 18 (.389) with a home run, three RBIs and four runs since coming to San Francisco in a trade with Pittsburgh last week.
The Giants finished a 6-1 homestand last week by taking three of four from Philadelphia. That moved the club to 37-16 at AT&T Park - the best home record in the majors.
That seems to make for a lopsided matchup with the Reds, who’ll be trying to avoid their first nine-game road skid since 2004. Cincinnati hasn’t won in California this year, getting swept in three-game series at San Diego and Los Angeles.
The Reds (46-61) haven’t played well anywhere lately, losing 14 of 16 overall. They dropped eight straight - all at home - before beating the Chicago Cubs 4-0 on Wednesday.
“Everyone cheer up,” owner Bob Castellini said. “It’s almost like winning the World Series.”
Homer Bailey(notes) (2-3, 7.06) draws the tough assignment of opposing Lincecum on Friday. The right-hander struggled through 5 1-3 innings of a 6-2 loss to Colorado on Saturday, giving up five runs, but pitched well in his previous visit to San Francisco. He allowed one run and three hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 4-2 win Sept. 20, 2007.
Cincinnati won its final five games against the Giants last year, scoring 47 runs. In a three-game series at San Francisco from April 25-27, 2008, second baseman Brandon Phillips(notes) went 6 for 12 with three home runs and seven RBIs.