Last week, we discussed the possibility that Tim Lincecum was having his pitches stolen by the Diamondbacks—in particular Stephen Drew, leading from second base.
In the first inning, the Giants’ broadcast crew homed in on Drew giving two indicators that at the very least looked remarkably like he was feeding signs to the guy at the plate, Adam LaRoche. (Watch it here.)
LaRoche capitalized, hitting a three-run homer.
After some prodding from the coaching staff, Lincecum altered his delivery, bringing his hands closer to his body, making it more difficult for a baserunner to peer in at his grip.
It worked well; following the three-run first, the pitcher allowed only one run over his final five frames, none over the last three. Looking at his final numbers for August—0-5 with a 7.82 ERA—it’s hardly a stretch to think that similar tipping might have been a factor for far longer than the game in which it first came to light.
I caught up with Lincecum at AT&T Park last week, and he explained the situation in a bit more detail—while maintaining a steadfast reluctance to accuse the Diamondbacks of anything untoward.
What is it exactly that you did to throw them off the scent?
I moved my hands closer to my body to make it harder for them to see (the grip). The pitching coach, somebody notices it . . . When things like that happen and someone can see it right off the bat, and it’s so blatant like that, you have no choice but to do something about it.
Is stuff like that always on your radar?
Yes and no. Sometimes it will be. Sometimes I’ll be going through grooves where it won’t even enter my mind, and it won’t even be a factor. But there are other times where you have to think about it. I try not to make it too big a factor for me, where it’s taking away from my pitching game, but I want to be aware of it.
Have you ever gone through a stretch where you’ve inadvertently been tipping pitches?
Not that I know of. Not so far.
This seems like less a retaliatory offense than something you simply adjust to and move on.
It’s one of those things where, if you can get a team’s signs, and you have them, why not take advantage? It’s smart on their part. Baseball is a game of adjustments, and I had to make some.
So did those adjustments work? The line from Lincecum’s following start, against Colorado: eight innings, five hits, one walk, nine strikeouts, one earned run and a victory—his first since July.