Tim Lincecum struggles finding zone Angels lose 6-2

July 29, 2016; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels catcher Carlos Perez (58) speaks to starting pitcher Tim Lincecum (55) during the first inning against Boston Red Sox at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
July 29, 2016; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels catcher Carlos Perez (58) speaks to starting pitcher Tim Lincecum (55) during the first inning against Boston Red Sox at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

Tim Lincecum took the mound for the first time after his worst start of his career last Sunday.  Lincecum was not sharp throwing 90 pitches in five plus innings with only 43 being strikes.  He walked six and gave up four runs before exiting after a Jackie Bradley Jr. homer to lead off the 6th.

Tim Lincecum used to have pinpoint control and a fastball in the low-to-mid 90’s that helped him win back-to-back Cy Young Awards in 2008 and 2009. However, in 2016 Lincecum has a fastball in the mid-to-upper 80’s and his control has escaped as was very evident Friday as Lincecum took the hill against Boston.

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Lincecum managed to work around two walks in the first to retire the side.  In the second inning he actually looked a little bit like the Lincecum of old striking out one batter and getting to easy fly ball outs.  The Angels got to Boston starter Rick Porcello for two runs as Albert Pujols singled to center followed by a double by Daniel Nava that Bradley Jr. misplayed as the ball bounded past him.  Andrelton Simmons drove in Pujols with an RBI-groundout and two batters later Carlos Perez came through with a RBI-Single to drive in Nava to give the Angels a 2-0 lead.

In the third inning Lincecum lost control walking two batters and then falling behind Xavier Bogaerts 2-0. Lincecum picked off Mookie Betts for the second out.  Just when it looked like Lincecum would get out of the inning unscathed Bogaerts hit a gapper to score Dustin Pedroia cutting the Angels lead to 2-1.  David Ortiz followed with an RBI-single to plate Bogaerts to tie the game  Lincecum then walked his third batter of the inning before getting Bradley Jr. to fly out to end the inning.

Lincecum continued to unravel in the fourth allowing a lead-off single to Aaron Hill, walked Ryan Hanigan, and Brock Holt singled to loaded the bases.  Mookie Betts got up in the count 3-0, but Lincecum fought back and Betts eventually hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Hill for a 3-2 Boston lead.  Lincecum got out of the jam by getting Pedroia to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to end the fourth inning.

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In the fifth Lincecum may have had his best inning going right through the heart of the Boston order retiring Bogaerts and Ortiz on fly ball outs and then striking out Hanley Ramirez to end the inning.  Angels manager Mike Scioscia decided to tempt fate and let Lincecum try to get through one more inning, but that notion ended quickly as Bradley Jr.  hit a solo homer to right to end Lincecum’s night trailing 4-2.

While Lincecum’s command was lacking as was evident with his six walks and throwing more balls than strikes, his guts and guile got him through five innings plus one batter.  However, I couldn’t help but notice Lincecum’s inconsistency one inning looking like the Lincecum of old and then look like he didn’t know how to throw a strike.

Mike Scioscia called on Jhoulys Chacin, who would be the most likely candidate to replace Lincecum in the rotation if Scioscia was so inclined to make that move.  Chacin pitched a scoreless 6th, but gave up a two-run homer to Bogaerts in the 7th to seemingly put the game away with Boston up 6-2.  Chacin finished the final four innings giving up only two runs on two hits.  Offensively the Angels could not mount anything on Porcello in the final three innings as he retired the final 11 batters to close out a 6-2 Boston victory.

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It was painful to watch Lincecum struggle as you kept hoping he would find something and make an adjustment, but he just couldn’t figure it out. In his eight starts since being called up in mid-June he is 2-5 with an 8.49 ERA.  He has only made it into the 6th inning three times including Friday night.  Overall Lincecum has pitched 35 innings giving up 59 hits and 33 runs with 21 walks and 31 strikeouts.

I’m not someone who likes to be negative, but in this case I don’t think Lincecum should be allowed to stay in the rotation.  There has been little to no improvement since his stellar debut.  However, putting him in the bullpen may or may not be the answer.  Chacin was struggling just about as bad as Lincecum when he was demoted to the bullpen in early July and has turned it around since. In 14.2 innings Chacin has given up four runs posting a 2.45 ERA.  I think the writing is on the wall though for Lincecum we will see if Scioscia will see the light soon, but most likely not.

Saturday the Angels turn to Hector Santiago to get them back on the winning track and then Tyler Skaggs will take the ball Sunday and see if can follow up his stellar debut in Kansas City with another strong start.  Hopefully the Angels bats will wake up in the final two games as well. Four runs in two games will not cut it against the best offensive team in baseball.

Stay Tuned!!!