SAN FRANCISCO -- Tim Lincecum doesn't spin and twirl on purpose. It just kind of happens when the right-hander is locked in, throwing the ball where he wants to and getting strikeouts that send him whirling back to the dugout one shutdown inning after the next.
Against the Atlanta Braves on Monday night, the slender right-hander looked like he was preparing for the Bolshoi.
Lincecum had not recorded an out past the sixth inning in his first seven starts, but he was electrifying through 72/3 innings of a 4-2 win at AT&T Park. He gave up just two hits and one run while striking out 11. The only time over the past three up-and-down seasons that Lincecum has whiffed more was when he no-hit the San Diego Padres last July 13.
Lincecum has talked all season about pitching to contact, but against the free-swinging Braves he went back to his roots. He walked four, a season-high, but reached double-digit strikeouts for the 36th time in his career. Lincecum recorded five straight outs via strikeout at one point and ended five of his innings with a swing-and-miss.
Lincecum got an early lead when Tyler Colvin, in his first home plate appearance as a Giant, pulled off a rare feat by crushing an elevated fastball into McCovey Cove. Colvin's first hit of the season was the 65th splash hit by a Giant.
With the game tied 1-1 in the seventh, Hector Sanchez singled and Brandon Crawford reached on a fielding error by Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman. Colvin followed with a two-run triple that might have penned his name onto the lineup card for a few weeks. Manager Bruce Bochy has said he'll go with the hot hand in left field while Michael Morse is playing first base, and Colvin drove in more runs in his first start than Gregor Blanco has in 40 at-bats.
Brandon Hicks, another surprise veteran, made it 4-1 with a single up the middle.
Brandon Belt heard the crack before he felt the pain, and at first he thought Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher's Paul Maholm's wild sinker had hit his bat. Then the pain came, and when Belt pulled his batting glove off his left thumb was already turning black and blue. Then it started twitching.
"I knew it wasn't good," he said.
The diagnosis was a broken thumb that has Belt scheduled for Tuesday morning surgery. He is expected to miss about eight weeks. Morse will be the everyday first baseman until Belt returns. Bochy pointed out that while the Giants were unable to overcome Angel Pagan's hamstring injury last season, they quickly pushed past Melky Cabrera's PED suspension in 2012.
"They don't ever dwell on what happened," he said of his players.
There was no anguish from Belt, either. He has suffered three broken bones on his hands, including a compound fracture when he was 8 years old that sent him to the operating table. That was his last procedure, but he'll have two pins inserted in the thumb on Tuesday morning. Belt said he wasn't nervous. He's not looking forward to it, though.
"I don't like the idea of somebody putting me to sleep," he said, laughing.
Belt intends to stay with the team throughout the process and said he'll be able to do the necessary cardio and weight work. Three days after he got hurt, Belt had fully accepted that this is simply part of the game.
"I'm doing pretty good, you know, other than my hand being broken into a bunch of pieces," he said. "I guess I'm doing about as good as I could be. It kind of sucks, but it's not all negative. I'll sit back and watch the game, and when I've done that in the past I've figured out small things here and there that I can do better."
Outfielder Juan Perez was optioned back to Triple-A Fresno to clear a roster spot for left-hander David Huff, who was brought off the disabled list after missing 18 games with a left quad strain.
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