SAN DIEGO -- Bruce Bochy isn't sure why Tim Lincecum so thoroughly owns the Padres these days when the right-hander so often struggles to find consistency. But the manager is happy to take advantage of it, and Lincecum, after seven sharp innings, was more than willing to take the confidence boost.
"It's always nice to start off like that," he said.
The Giants wished they could have rewarded the effort. Lincecum took a no-decision in his season debut, a 1-0 loss to the Padres that was decided by the bullpens, not Lincecum and fellow 2006 draftee Brandon Morrow.
"He was good, he was really good,” Bochy said of Lincecum, who has a 1.91 ERA in his last nine starts against the Padres. “Good command. Good curveball tonight that was working very well. He did a great job and we needed it.”
Lincecum’s ownage of the Padres is so complete that he could get by on a night when his fastball dipped into the 85-88 mph range for long stretches. He said he’s not sure why the velocity wasn’t there, noting that there isn’t a physical limitation.
“It didn’t feel like they were there,” he said. “If it’s 85 to 88 and getting outs, that’s all that matters to me.”
[INSTANT REPLAY: Giants waste Lincecum's outing, lose to Padres]
For Lincecum, this could just be a sign that what he worked on all offseason has worked a bit. Giants hitters noted early in camp that Lincecum was deceptive again, with Casey McGehee saying his fastball was exploding like it did several years ago. The Padres seemed to be seeing the same things, at least that’s what it looked like given some of the late swings and swing-throughs on Lincecum’s fastball. Lincecum said he was reading Padres swings, not the MPH section on the scoreboard, and he liked what he saw.
The 30-year-old right-hander felt a little off early, but he found his timing and let his defense get to work. Brandon Crawford had another strong night and Nori Aoki helped on a couple liners to left.
“The defense played really well behind me, but I felt I made some good pitches,” Lincecum said.
Lincecum screamed after he came off the mound for the last time, a big smile soon on his face. The Padres went ahead minutes later, and that was all she wrote with Craig Kimbrel warming up in the bullpen. The winning run came across when Gregor Blanco got too close to the wall on Wil Myers’ blast to right and Joe Panik’s throw home took Hector Sanchez up the line.
“We didn’t execute that very well,” Bochy said. “The throw was off. If it’s on line, he’s out by 10 feet.”
Panik said he knew the play was going to be at the plate. He could hear the crowd rising and he also figured the Padres would go all-in given how hard it’s been to score runs this series. The throw was just off.
“I need to make a better throw,” he said. “The thing ran on me. In that situation, it shouldn’t happen.”
--- Aoki extended his hitting streak to 13 games, going back to last season.
--- Sanchez got his arm slammed on that play at the plate and then later took a light tap off the head. Sanchez popped his helmet off on a pitch in the dirt, bent over to pick it up and had Matt Kemp drop his bat right on his dome. It's just insane how many shots El Iman takes.
"What a life," he said later, shaking his head.