Tim Lincecum strikes out 14 vs. Braves, but only because the game ended

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum throws a pitch against the Chicago Cubs during the third inning of their MLB National League baseball game in San Francisco, California August 10, 2010. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

The first batter Tim Lincecum faced on Thursday night lined a double into the left field gap and you could feel the panic set in from San Francisco.

Giant fans knew what kind of pitcher Lincecum was in August. He got behind hitters. He couldn’t locate his pitches. He hung his breaking stuff. He didn’t re-stock the toilet paper in the clubhouse when he finished a roll.

He was bad.

Thankfully, the September Tim Lincecum arrived about a millisecond after Omar Infante doubled in the first. The Giants’ ace went on to pitch nine innings of scoreless baseball, yielding just two hits and striking out 14, which set a Giants postseason record. Cody Ross’ single in the fourth inning was all the runs Lincecum needed, as San Fran took Game 1 of the NDLS, 1-0.

The back half of the Braves’ lineup is about as frightening as a box of kittens, but their one through four of Infante, Jason Heyward, Derrek Lee and Brian McCann is no joke. Lincecum wasn’t fazed, however, as he held the top of Atlanta’s lineup to just two hits while compiling seven strikeouts (including three of Lee, one of which ended the game).

Derek Lowe was awfully impressive himself, but he wound up being the hard-luck loser after giving up one run on four hits over 5.1 innings of work. Truth be told, he shouldn’t have even given up the one run.

Second base umpire Paul Emmel called Buster Posey (who had two hits in his postseason debut) safe on a steal attempt in the fourth inning, but replays showed that he was tagged out a split second before his foot hit the bag. Posey eventually went on to score on Ross’ single, which should have been gloved by Infante at third base. (It wasn’t an error because Infante never got his glove on the ball, but it’s a play Chipper Jones or even a slightly above average third baseman could have made.)

That said, I’m thoroughly convinced that had Lincecum pitched 62 innings tonight, he wouldn’t have given up a run. He was absolutely sensational in his postseason debut and even though it was a tight game throughout, it felt as though the Giants were playing with a 10-run lead. Also, give manager Bruce Bochy credit for recognizing how special Lincecum was and allowed him to finish the game. That couldn’t have been easy with his ace already over 100 pitches and Brian Wilson sitting in the bullpen.

What an outing by “The Freak.”

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What happened to the Rays’ offense?

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher David Price reacts after he was taken from the game against the Texas Rangers during their American League Division Series MLB baseball game in St. Petersburg, Florida October 6, 2010. REUTERS/Scott Audette (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

The above picture is not of an offensive player for the Rays – it’s of pitcher David Price. But if it were a picture of an offensive player, he’d have the same expression on his face.

In the regular season, only the Yankees and Red Sox scored more runs than the Rays, who crossed home plate 802 times this year.

In their last two games, they’ve scored just one, which is a problem considering their last two games have come in the postseason. Following their 6-0 loss to the Rangers on Sunday, the Rays now trail Texas 2-0 in the best-of-five ALDS. Oh, and now they have to go on the road for their next two games, if they make it to Game 4, that is.

The Rangers’ pitching staff has been good this season (great even, if you factor in the struggles its had over the years), but they’re not that good are they? Are they good enough to hold the third best run-scoring offense in the league to only one run the past two games? In Tampa no less?

This in no way is meant to be a put down to Texas. C.J. Wilson pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings today and was outstanding all season. He’s made a successful jump from being a setup man to a full-time starter and he’s one of the many reasons the Rangers may go deep into the postseason this year.

But one run? One run in two games? I figured when the Rays got that albatross Carlos Pena (who batted .169 against lefties during the regular season) out of the lineup that they’d generate some offense. But they actually produced less runs in Game 2 today than they did in Game 1, which was hard to do considering they only scored one yesterday.

This Rays team is in trouble and nobody wants to face the Rangers right now. Those bankrupt bastards are on a mission.

Yankees’ postseason experience shines in Game 1 of ALDS

New York Yankees' Mark Teixeira hits a two-run home run against the Minnesota Twins during the seventh inning of Game 1 of their MLB American League Divison Series baseball playoffs in Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 6, 2010. REUTERS/Andy King (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

The Yankees entered the playoffs losers of eight of their last 11 games. But no matter how much they’ve struggled or how many chinks in the armor they may have shown, this is still their time of year.

For five innings Wednesday night, the Yankees were making Twins’ starter Francisco Liriano look like Cy Young. They trailed 3-0 in the top of the sixth, but after Nick Swisher struck out swinging to start the inning, Mark Teixeira doubled to deep left, Alex Rodriguez walked and then Teixeira scored on a Robinson Cano single to right.

After Marcus Thames struck out, Jorge Posada lined a single to right to score A-Rod and move Cano to second. Curtis Granderson delivered the big blow by tripling off the wall in deep right center to score Cano and Posada to give the Yankees a 4-3 lead.

They never trailed after that.

The Twins scratched across a run in their half of the inning, but Teixeira blasted a 355-foot home run in the top of 7th to give the Yankees a 6-4 lead. After allowing two base runners to reach in the ninth, Mariano Rivera got Jim Thome to pop out to third to end the game and give New York a 6-4 victory.

This is the time of year when the Yankees are never out of any game. They may have showed their age throughout the regular season, but there’s no replacement for postseason experience. When the stakes are high, this is when the Bombers are at their best.

Of course, this is still a team that’s going to struggle to win it all. Their pitching is a major concern and Joe Girardi’s stomach must have been in knots watching his ace C.C. Sabathia struggle in the early innings last night before finally settling in. He’s supposed to be the rock of the rotation and if he struggles, then the Yanks are doomed.

Game 2 is set for tonight at 6:07PM ET, as Andy Pettitte will take on former Yankee Carl Pavano.

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