For the first time in his career, Tim Lincecum pitched in a play-off game. After watching tonight's game, you would think he was a post-season veteran like Andy Petite.
Lincecum (1-0) was masterful in his postseason complete game shutout. In his two-hitter, he struck out 14 batters and walked just one.
Giants nemesis Derek Lowe (0-1) went for the Braves. In his career, he has a 7-4 record with a 2.95 ERA against the Giants.
The Giants broke the scoreless tie off Lowe in the bottom of the fourth inning. Buster Posey led off the inning with a single. The next batter, Pat Burrell, struck out, but Posey was able to steal second base on the play. It looked like the tag was applied on Posey before he hit the base, but second base umpire Paul Emmel called Posey safe. Juan Uribe would go on to strike out next. With 2 outs, Braves manager Bobby Cox elected to intentionally walk Pablo Sandoval, who was baffled by Lowe an at-bat earlier. This brought up Cody Ross, who laced a single into left field, scoring Posey from second. The ball took a bad hop on Braves third baseman Omar Infante, who got to the ball, but it was still called a single. Nevertheless, the Giants took a 1-0 lead, the only run scored in the game.
In the ninth inning, Tim Lincecum emerged from the dugout. Faced with the task of going after the top of the order in the biggest game of his career, Lincecum delivered, retiring the side one-two-three. With his shutout, Lincecum became the only pitcher since Roger Clemens to strike out 14 or more and allow two hits or fewer in a postseason shutout. Clemens and Lincecum are the only two pitchers to do this.
Lincecum was spectacular tonight, and I don't want to take anything away from him, but he got lucky a couple times tonight. There is no doubt he was up with his fastball tonight, but for some reason the Braves swung right through them. Why? Movement. His fastball had life on it, just getting off the sweet spots from the bats of the Braves' hitters or missing their bats. His fastball command was shaky at best, but that world class split-finger change-up was never better. Perfect example is Brian McCann's at-bat in the fourth inning. Lincecum threw a fastball at the belt, but the movement coaxed a fly-out to right field. When you mix and match your pitches like Lincecum did tonight, the mistakes are less likely to get hit as hard. Before our very eyes, Lincecum is becoming a pitcher and not a thrower.
This and That
The Giants won their first post-season game since 2003. Barry Zito, the Giants' highest paid player, was left off the playoff roster. Aubrey Huff ended his 1,479 game-streak of not playing in a playoff game, the third longest among active players. Tim Lincecum became the first pitcher since 1986 to make his postseason debut with a 1-0 shutout victory. The Giants' attendance was 43, 936 for Game 1 of the NLDS, their second highest at AT&T Park. The only bigger crowd was the 2007 All-Star Game.