The San Francisco Giants needed a stopper and they got one. Tim Lincecum spoiled Roy Oswalt’s return to the mound as the Giants beat the Phillies, 3-1, to avoid a four-game sweep.
Oswalt wasn’t sharp in his first game since June 23, giving up 12 hits in six innings, tying a career high, but the radar gun showed positive velocity on many of his pitches. Often times, the radar read 91-92 mph, meaning the Phillies 4th Ace is seemingly healthy once again. He also kept his team well within striking distance, although that’s easier said than done when facing Tim Lincecum.
Lincecum scattered seven hits over 7 2/3 innings to run his record to 5-0 with an ERA of 0.90 when matched-up against Oswalt in his career. Brian Wilson came on for his 34th save of the season in the ninth.
Ben Francisco smacked a one-out double in the final inning, but was left in place – as were eight other Phillies on Sunday.
With a nasty off-speed arsenal working on all cylinders, Lincecum made many Phillies look foolish, most notably Ryan Howard. The Big Piece had been in a groove before this weekend, but that all changed as he finished off his series against the Giants with an 0-for-4, 3 strikeout performance. Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz each put up two hits on the afternoon that went for naught.
Sitting in my living room, it seemed as though Lincecum was a beatable pitcher on this day. The Phillies were jumpy and were not patient enough against a guy who throws a lot of pitches in the dirt. But, as we’ve seen time and again, Lincecum owned the Phillies.
“The Freak” had his seventh career quality start against the Phils in nine starts.
As for Oswalt, he gave up a ton of baserunners, but did strand them. Let’s hope this is a stepping stone for better future starts. One worrisome aspect of the game against the Giants was that he could not get the Giants, with their terrible offense, to swing and miss at many pitches. Jeff Keppinger, the pesky two-hole hitter for San Francisco, went 4-for-4 and raised his average 12 points in one game. Oswalt’s velocity was fine, but he missed few bats. Hopefully that can change.
Three out of four ain’t bad and neither is an 8 1/2 game lead in the division over the Braves. And all good things must come to an end, as the nine-game winning streak was halted.
This was certainly a statement series for the Phillies, as many we’re slightly worried that the Giants had indeed gotten into the heads of the Phillies, especially following a San Fran series win in Philly a little over a week ago. The Phillies proved who the more complete and dominant team is.
Up next is a series with the Dodgers in L.A. to close out the 10-game road trip.