SAN FRANCISCO -- So many Tim Lincecum starts over the past three years have been characterized by a look of confusion or disappointment. On this night, it was all about a scream and a smile.
Lincecum pumped his fists and screamed when Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik ended the top of the sixth inning with a spectacular double play. He smiled when he reached the top step of the dugout, another job well done, and a rare Giants victory in the books.
Thanks to Lincecum’s six strong and an opportunistic lineup, the Giants beat the rival Dodgers 6-2 in their first meeting of the season. The team looked refreshed after the season’s first off day, getting 13 hits, playing lockdown defense and winning for just the second time since April 9.
It’s far too early in the season to really look at the standings, but still, the Giants entered six games behind the Dodgers after just two weeks of baseball. A bad series here could have put them in a serious hole, but they got off to a good start on Tuesday night.
Crawford’s bunt single brought a run home in the second inning and Panik made it 2-0 a frame later. The big play came in the fourth, with two out and two on. Nori Aoki hit a slow roller to the right side and Adrian Gonzalez’s throw to pitcher Brett Anderson trickled toward the dugout. Aoki was safe on an RBI infield single and a second run scored on the error. Justin Maxwell added a crush shot of a two-run homer in the eighth.
Lincecum and the bullpen took care of the rest. The right-hander gave up just one run on five hits over six innings, winning as a starter for the first time since last Aug. 17.
Starting pitching report: An underrated moment for Lincecum came in the top of the fifth, when Alex Guerrero hit an RBI double with two outs. Lincecum went 3-2 on Jimmy Rollins, but he kept the stirring Dodgers down by getting Rollins swinging on a good slider. Lincecum spun off the mound and then back to the dugout. Right before the Crawford-Panik flip, Lincecum got a big strikeout of Adrian Gonzalez, who has been red-hot the first two weeks. Through three starts, Lincecum has a 2.00 ERA and 1.22 WHIP.
Bullpen report: The most interesting thing to happen on the bullpen mound Tuesday was Ryan Vogelsong throwing a strenuous bullpen session during BP. That would seem to set Vogelsong up as Thursday’s starter.
At the plate: Maxwell's first homer as a Giant was a no-doubter, traveling 430 feet down the left field line. It included a pretty sweet bat toss, too. According to the StatsCast cameras, Maxwell got a 97 mph fastball from Pedro Baez and it left his bat at 109 mph.
In the field: Nobody turns two better than Crawford and Panik right now, especially when a flip is involved. Crawford laid out to stop Howie Kendrick’s grounder with one out in the sixth, glove-flipped it to Panik as he tumbled over, and then watched as Panik’s throw to first beat Kendrick by a hair. It was the second glove-flip double-play of the season for the two, and the the third in their last 14 starts together, going back to Game 7 of the World Series.
The Giants got a second big-time highlight in the eighth when Maxwell went to the wall for a sliding catch of a Yasiel Puig fly ball. He looked hurt at first, but stayed in the game.
Attendance: The Giants announced a crowd of 41,386. Barry Bonds was one of them, although he probably didn’t pay for his front-row ticket.
Up next: Buckle up. Clayton Kershaw vs. Madison Bumgarner. Puig vs. Bumgarner. Dodgers vs. Giants, again. Wednesday night is going to be a fun one. Kershaw, the reigning NL MVP, takes on his good friend Bumgarner, the reigning World Series MVP.