A tale of two starts for LA Angels Lincecum

July 29, 2016; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Tim Lincecum (55) reacts after allowing a run in the third 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 starting pitcher Tim Lincecum (55) reacts after allowing a run in the third inning against Boston Red Sox at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

Former LA Angels pitcher Lincecum returned to Salt Lake for a minor league stint. After what could only be called a terrible return with the Angels, he had ultimately accepted the demotion to Triple-A.

The LA Angels hope that Tim Lincecum can find some of the magic that once made him a back-to-back Cy Young Award Winner. How long are the Angels willing to wait on Lincecum remains to be seen.

The fact that he is only under contract through the end of the season might suggest that his window to show significant improve is about six weeks. If Lincecum shows promise over the next few weeks, a return trip to Anaheim will most likely be his reward, where he would get one final chance to prove himself to the Angels and all of Major League Baseball.

So when the Salt Lake City Bees played the Round Rock Express at home last Monday. The excitement was high; as Tim Lincecum approached the mound and it was hopefully going to be the start to his triumphant return.

That excitement was instantly dashed in the first inning. Lincecum gave up a lead off triple and two home runs ultimately giving up three runs. Lincecum lasted 4.1 innings giving up four runs, four walks, and four strikeouts.

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This first game in Triple-A for Lincecum was bound to be stressful for him, and it isn’t all that surprising the outing he had. After that first inning he didn’t look too bad, he even had some pitches that were great.

Those 4 strikeouts were him outmatching the batters, it will be nice to see if he can continue that trend. We will have to see if Lincecum will come out and be able to calm himself and outmatch batters. If not, he will be in for a rough rest of his career.

Lincecum shows promise in second start.

So fast-forward to Saturday night in El Paso as Lincecum again took the mound in hopes of finding something that he seems to have lost over the past couple of seasons: Confidence.

Despite allowing a base runner in five of the six innings he pitched, Lincecum was able to hold El Paso to one run on seven hits in six innings of work, with a walk and five strikeouts.

What was the most encouraging sign for Lincecum was in 84 pitches he threw 53 strikes and only 31 balls and only walked one batter, which was a major issue in his time in Anaheim. It was not what you would call a dominating performance for Lincecum, but a solid outing nonetheless which is encouraging.

This has to be a breath of fresh air for Lincecum, since there has not been much encouraging news for him in the past two months since his stellar debut in Oakland in early June. Hopefully Lincecum can build on this minor success and get his mojo back.

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Other notable Angels who are in Salt Lake City trying to make it back to the majors.

C.J. Cron was in Salt Lake for an injury rehab assignment last week, and while his numbers were not the best going three for 19 (.143) Cron looked comfortable both at the plate and at first base.

However, I think the Angels should have given him more time and not rushed him back. As much as Cron is an intregal part of the Angels, the team is out of the playoff race so why not give him more time to make sure all is well.

Mike Scioscia and staff had other ideas about Cron since they promoted him back to the majors yesterday and immediately inserted him into the starting line-up against the Yankees where he went 0 for 4 with a strikeout.

One encouraging sign was a 7th inning drive that Cron hit that looked like it would be his 12th home run until the Yankees Brett Gardner leaned over the short fence in left and robbed Cron of his 12th homer.

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Daniel Nava has also looked good In Salt Lake as he went 3-6 with one RBI in last Monday’s game. Since being placed in Salt Lake, Nava has played exceptionally hitting .429 with eight RBI’s in 14 games, including a 3 for 5 night on Friday with two RBI’s.

Rafael Ortega has continued to have a solid season in Salt Lake since being demoted in June. Ortega has hit .306 with three homers and 30 RBI’s and has also swiped 11 bases.  He may be the most promising of all the left fielders the Angels have tried this season.

When the roster for the Angels expands on September 1st, look for Lincecum, Nava, Rafeal Ortega, Todd Cunningham, and Greg Mahle to be among the most likely to be called up to the Majors. Pitcher Nate Smith is also a name you will most likely be hearing in the future.

When the rosters expand it will be a great opportunity for these him  to make it, and it will be a great opportunity for us to see a glimpse of the future.