San Francisco Giants

Lincecum battles mechanical, Goldschmidt problems in Giants’ loss

SAN FRANCISCO -- Even after allowing a leadoff triple to Gerardo Parra and walking Martin Prado to open the first inning Wednesday night, Tim Lincecum said he gave no thought to pitching around Paul Goldschmidt.

The result was both not what he had in mind and astonishingly familiar. Lincecum left a 1-1 fastball up over the outside part of the plate, and Goldschmidt drove it over the wall in right field for a home run to put Lincecum and the Giants in a 3-0 hole before they’d recorded an out.

Goldschmidt added a sacrifice fly in the third inning. His career numbers off Lincecum now read: 13-for-24, seven home runs, 17 RBIs.

But the Diamondbacks’ first baseman wasn’t the only hitter to hurt Lincecum during his four innings in the Giants’ 7-3 loss. Lincecum was erratic throughout, allowing seven hits including a fourth-inning home run by Parra that came after Lincecum allowed a two-out single to opposing pitcher Bronson Arroyo.

"He was really off all night," manager Bruce Bochy said. "It was pretty evident."

Lincecum said his problems in this start were mechanical -- his arm slot was "more like sidearm than over the top," which caused too many of his pitches to flatten out. "I just couldn’t find myself getting out of it," he said, "and kept repeating that bad movement."

Lincecum, who has now allowed 11 runs on 15 hits in 10 innings in his first two starts against Arizona, said this is something he’s been working on since spring. He thinks it’s a "timing issue" in his delivery, where he doesn’t get his arm to a high enough slot before bringing his body forward, so that his arm "just flattens out and tries to find the quickest way to get to home plate."

"I’ll just go back to the drawing board between starts and try to right that wrong," he said. "Try to get my angle back again."

Then there’s the right-hander’s Goldschmidt problem. The first-inning home run to right made Goldschmidt just the 22nd right-handed batter ever to hit a ball out to that part of AT&T Park, and it reached the arcade seats by plenty.

"You know Lincecum’s a very good pitcher," Goldschmidt said, according to the AP. "So you just go up there and try to have a good at-bat and try to hit the ball hard, and fortunately I was able to get one there in the first inning."

At this point, Goldschmidt’s borderline-ridiculous success against Lincecum may well have worked its way into the latter’s head. Lincecum at least said that his struggles with Goldschmidt may be exacerbated by trying to do too much or be too fine with his pitches trying to find some way to retire his nemesis.

"It could be," Lincecum said. "I think when it comes down to it, you get your pitch plan and try to exploit what you think they can’t hit, and I think I’ve just got to start leaning a little bit more on my strengths than necessarily his weaknesses.

"I know he’s got some holes here and there, but I’d say I need to mix up my pitch counts and pitch routines. Right now I’m just falling into backwards counts, where’s he’s pretty dangerous."

Lincecum also didn’t help himself Wednesday with his inability to retire the hitters in front of Goldschmidt. Both times he faced Goldschmidt on Wednesday he had runners on the corners, with Parra and Prado hitting back-to-back singles in the third.

Bochy was asked if he’s concerned about Goldschimdt affecting Lincecum mentally and said he’s "not worried."

"He’s got to make better pitches on him," Bochy said. "That’s pretty simple. He left (the home run pitch) up. Next time he threw a decent slider, but that ball was up, too. It’s all about executing your pitches.

"You’ve got to keep your focus. You can’t think about it. Your job out there is to focus a pitch at a time."

Lincecum said he has dealt with issues with his arm slot in the past, and that, "Usually I can compete around that if I just battle a little bit more.

"But today, too many pitches up," he said. "And they made me pay for them early and often."

* With the Diamondbacks up 7-2 after four innings Wednesday, Lincecum’s outing was pretty much the story. But a couple of offensive notes for the Giants -- Angel Pagan had another three hits, all singles, and is hitting .462 through the first nine games. He’s had multiple hits in seven of those games.

Also, the Giants hit two more home runs, with Michael Morse and Buster Posey doing the honors. The Giants said Morse’s was estimated at 449 feet, and it certainly reached way up into the left-field bleachers. Morse was asked afterward if he thinks the Giants -- who now have 14 home runs through nine games -- can keep hitting for that type of power and didn’t rule it out.

"We’re just going out there and just playing within our abilities," he said. "No one’s doing anything that is something they can’t do. We’re just playing."

* Bochy was asked before the game about Pablo Sandoval, who went 0-for-4 in the loss and is batting .143, and said Sandoval’s average is somewhat misleading. Sandoval has hit some balls hard during the first week of the season with little to show for it.

"I like his approach right now," Bochy said. "I think he’s seeing pitches, I think he’s shown some discipline up there. He’s a guy that should have a little better numbers with all the hard outs that he’s made."

As mentioned Tuesday, assistant general manager Bobby Evans was on the radio before the Giants’ home opener and said contract talks with Sandoval’s camp have been tabled for the time being -- something general manager Brian Sabean later reiterated on the TV broadcast. Bochy acknowledged that can weigh on a player but said he hopes that isn’t the case with Sandoval, who is set to become a free agent after the season.

"There are times when it does affect a player, but they have to understand that it’s part of the business of baseball and both sides have to agree on something," Bochy said. "Right now that’s not happening, so the only thing you can do is concentrate on what you’re supposed to do and that’s play baseball. That’s where Pablo says he’s at."

* Also before the game, Bochy said reliever Jeremy Affeldt could rejoin the Giants within a week. Affeldt, who’s on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right knee, is scheduled to pitch Thursday with Single-A San Jose, and the Giants want to see Affeldt pitch on back-to-back days before they activate him.

* This series wraps up tomorrow with Ryan Vogelsong making his first home start of the season. The Diamondbacks will start right-hander Randall Delgado, who is 0-1 with an ERA of 11.57 in the early going. First pitch at 7:15 p.m.