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Lincecum dazzles foes and teammates alike

Lincecum dazzles foes and teammates alike

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Mike Fontenot remembers what it's like digging into the batter's box against Tim Lincecum.

On nights like Thursday, Fontenot is glad he's in the same dugout as the two-time National League Cy Young Award winner.

Lincecum made one of the most incredible postseason debuts imaginable, two-hitting the Braves and setting a Giants postseason record with 14 strikeouts, as he handcuffed Atlanta hitters in Thursday's 1-0 win over the Braves in Game 1 of the NL Division Series.


"He was definitely on his 'A' game today," Fontenot said. "He had a good tempo tonight, throwing strikes and throwing all his pitches and was really working hard out there. From the dugout he really looked calm and collected out there."

Lincecum only allowed a leadoff double to Omar Infante in the first inning and a seventh-inning double to Brian McCann. His 14 strikeouts were the second-most in an NLDS game, behind Kevin Brown's 16 on Sept. 29, 1998, and he also broke the Giants' single-game postseason record of 10, held by four pitchers. From the first to second innings, Lincecum struck out five consecutive batters, one short of the NLDS game record held by Mike Hampton.

Outside of his punchouts, Lincecum induced four popouts, four groundouts and four flyouts from Braves hitters. Only a fourth-inning walk kept him from being perfect in that category.

Freak-in' impressive
Most strikeouts in postseason debut
Player Date Tm Opp. SO
T. Lincecum 10/7/2010 S.F. Atl. 14
M. Scott 10/8/1986 Hou. NYM 14
M. Boddicker 10/6/1983 Bal. CWS 14
J. Candelaria 10/7/1975 Pit. Cin. 14
J. Coleman 10/10/1972 Det. Oak. 14
H. Ehmke 10/8/1929 Phi. CHC 13
W. Johnson 10/4/1924 Was. NYG 12
B. Donovan 10/8/1907 Det. CHC 12
E. Walsh 10/11/1906 CWS CHC 12
M. Drabowsky 10/5/1966 Bal. L.A. 11
D. Newcombe 10/5/1949 Bro. NYY 11
J. Wood 10/8/1912 Bos. NYG 11
B. Dinneen 10/2/1903 Bos. Pit. 11

"He was lights-out," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "We had two runners at second base the whole night and that was it. I don't know how many he struck out, but it was more than the fingers on my hand."

Before Fontenot, a backup infielder, was acquired by the Giants from the Cubs on a Deadline-day trade, he had seen his fair share of Lincecum. In 13 career at-bats against the Giants right-hander, Fontenot managed only one hit -- a single -- and struck out six times.

Although Fontenot said he has experienced some success against Lincecum -- "I got some hits off of him in Spring Training, man," he joked -- Fontenot said what makes Lincecum so tough is the batter never knows what he's going to get.

"Every at-bat, it's like he had a different plan of attack against you, so it wasn't like you can get comfortable against him, like, 'Oh, I think I'm going to get a fastball here,'" Fontenot said. "Any count he can throw any pitch -- and they're all good pitches -- for strikes, so he really keeps you off balance, throws hard, moves the ball around."

Lincecum's number of different pitches -- fastball, slider, curveball and his most deadly, his changeup -- is the key reason for his success. That variety is another reason outfielder Cody Ross, who is 1-for-6 against Lincecum, said the right-hander is so tough.

"He's got dominating stuff and he throws four pitches that are plus-pitches," Ross said. "When you get a starter that can throw three that are plus, you've got a pretty good starter. But when you've got a guy who can throw four, he goes and does what he did tonight. To be able to do it in his first postseason start, it's incredible."

Lincecum's 14K's shine bright
Most strikeouts in a postseason game
Player Game Team Opp. SO
B. Gibson '68 WS 1 Stl. Det. 17
K. Brown '98 NLDS 1 S.D. Hou. 16
R. Clemens '00 ALCS 4 NYY Sea. 15
L. Hernandez '97 NLCS 5 Fla. Atl. 15
M. Mussina '97 ALCS 3 Bal. Cle. 15
S. Koufax '63 WS 1 L.A. NYY 15
T. Lincecum '10 NLDS 1 S.F. Atl. 14
M. Scott '86 NLCS 1 Hou. NYM 14
M. Boddicker '83 ALCS 2 Bal. CWS 14
J. Candelaria '75 NLCS 3 Pit. Cin. 14
J. Coleman '72 ALCS 3 Det. A's 14
C. Erskine '53 WS 3 Bro. NYY 14
For a position player, one would think that games such as Thursday's -- where more than half of the Braves' outs came via strikeout -- are boring. Not so, said Ross.

"When guys are walking guys and you get runners on, you get lackadaisical as a position player, but when he's pounding the zone, you're in every pitch and you're just hoping you can get some action and help him out and try to make an out," said Ross, who caught only a fourth-inning flyout. "But he didn't need us tonight very much."

For the 26-year-old Lincecum, Thursday was yet another bullet point on an already impressive resume. What made the effort even more impressive to his teammates, however, was the fact that it came during his first taste of postseason play.

"For me it's tough to find a more dominant effort than that, considering the situation in the playoffs," outfielder Pat Burrell said. "They've got some guys over there who they know what they're doing and he was just on top of it. He threw everything in every count and was pretty tough to predict and really did a perfect job of keeping their guys off balance. I don't know what else to say. It was incredible."

Cash Kruth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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