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What We Talk About When We Talk About Taking Two of Three From The Dodgers

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I didn't catch much of Wednesday's game, but from what I caught of it -- and what I caught of the post-game radio chit-chat -- when we talk about a solid opening series against a team the rest of America can now love to hate as much as we always have, we apparently talk about Tim Lincecum.

And for good reason. Buster Posey and Matt Cain might now be the faces of the franchise, but Lincecum was this team's first rock star in the post-Barry Lamar era. He was the freaky poetic electricity that o'er-arc'ed from the laughable mid-aughts to the sparks of promise in 2009 to the fireworks of 2010. Don't forget, he also authored the most dominant playoff game in team history, the 14-K shutout of Atlanta to kick off the 2010 post-season. Never forget.

And we don't. Which is why "What's wrong with Timmy?" is a much more fraught question for Giants fans. It's innocence lost, youth fraying around the edges, the underdog story retreating in the rear view mirror (although the Dodgers did their best until April 2nd to make the world think the underdog label should remain plastered on the Giants' rumps like a "Kick Me" sign). We want this ride to continue with loose-limbed Tim as we remember him, but we know it probably won't.

I heard Lincecum's first two innings Wednesday, which didn't vary much from the first couple innings of most of his starts last year. The difference more or less was that Matt Kemp hit two balls hard into Angel Pagan's glove. This was 2012 Lincecum. I don't know if 2012 Lincecum will also show up in his next start, and the one after that. (Probably not, since the hair would have to re-grow quick quick style like a bong-rippin' chia pet.) But I know two of the big bugaboos from last year -- a decline in fastball velocity after an inning or two, and a disconcerting lack of fastball control -- went into hiding during his spectacular bullpen work in last year's playoffs then -- bwah hah hah! -- re-emerged from the shadows in his first start of 2013.

Hector Sanchez did not help. Regular readers of this blog will know that I'm not a big fan. If you're going to employ a backup catcher, make sure he either hits like crazy or provides solid defense behind the plate. Sanchez does neither. I'm not surprised Bochy double-switched him out of the game in the sixth inning.

Now, I don't advocate kicking him to the curb, unless that curb is outside Grizzly Field in Fresno, or whatever the heck it's called. Sanchez has potential, and I'd love to see him get more seasoning in Triple A. Perhaps a few months, perhaps a full season. Teach him how to frame pitches, teach him more plate discipline. If the Giants insist on a three-catcher roster, I don't know the answer. Jackson Williams, the glove man at Triple-A, would probably serve as break-glass-in-emergency guy -- the Guillermo Quiroz role now -- but you don't want Quiroz promoted to "key late-inning pinch hitter." Yuck on that. The bench is already thin as-is with Joaquin Arias as the main pinch-hitting threat.

Also, for those of you sitting on my shoulder whispering that I'm reading far too much into one start, I'll concede that Lincecum was also hurt by a Buster Posey error, making his two runs unearned despite seven walks in five innings.

But then I'll flick you off my shoulder and scold: Don't let the "unearned" fool you. Be worried.

Then again: Series win in LA against the Los Angeles Yankodgers, and a Hunter Pence opposite field line drive that cut through the night smog and into the right-center field bleachers. What a clout, I say! Ear worm of the day: "When the Giants come to town, it's bye-bye baby," and unlike most ear worms, let it burrow deep into my brain and drown out all the confounding consternation over Tim Lincecum.

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