Not only is he one of the most treasured players in baseball, Lincecum literally can't be hit most of the time, as the Mets experienced Wednesday night in a 2-0 loss to the Giants at Citi Field.
The Mets, who went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position, had a few chances against Lincecum. They scraped together five hits, including two doubles, and actually got one of those runners to third base. But Lincecum got strikeouts when he needed them -- 12 overall -- and whiffed his final five batters before leaving after seven innings.
Lincecum was the third former Cy Young winner that the Mets had faced in four games, and the results have not been good. In order, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Lincecum have allowed two earned runs in 23 innings (0.78 ERA) with 25 strikeouts and six walks.
"We have to come through -- that's the name of the game," manager Terry Collins said. "That's the name of the game. Everybody in America is aware of how good these guys are. That speaks for themselves. You've got to grind out at-bats. You can't strike out 12 times. When he's got a guy in scoring position, [Lincecum] steps it up. You've got to step it up. We're a big-league team, too."
It just hasn't looked that way lately. In the last three games, the Mets are hitting .108 (4-for-37) with runners in scoring position. Wednesday, the Mets put a runner at second with less than two outs three times and failed to score. While they made Lincecum work -- he threw 127 pitches in only seven innings -- they struck out 16 times overall, a season high.
When asked to explain the Mets' recent struggles, Carlos Beltran said, "I have no idea. I don't know. Maybe we're trying too hard."
Lincecum also made Giants history. It marked his 29th game of double-digit strikeouts, which moved him past Christy Mathewson on the team's all-time list. Pat Burrell (sound familiar?) provided all the offense Lincecum needed with his run-scoring single off Chris Capuano in the sixth. Mike Fontenot, who started at shortstop, added an RBI single in the seventh to end Capuano's night.
Capuano (2-3) allowed eight hits and two runs in 61/3 innings as the Mets suffered their fifth loss in six games. For those waiting for the trade talk to heat up, this defeat dropped the Mets 81/2 games behind the Phillies. When Collins was asked if the six-game winning streak had been wasted, he disagreed.
"I'm glad we had it," the manager said. "It's not forgotten, either."
The Mets had plenty of issues to talk about before the game. Pedro Beato landing on the disabled list with elbow tendinitis. The temporary benching of Josh Thole, who is in need of some defensive polishing before he returns to the lineup. Even Reyes endured another round of questions about the possibility of being traded to the Giants.
Comcast SportsNet, a San Francisco-based news outlet, reported that the Giants have had internal discussions about acquiring Reyes. That hardly comes as a surprise, given their problems at the position. But the Mets have not talked with the defending world champions regarding Reyes, a person familiar with the situation said Wednesday, and it's a bit early for such conversations with the non-waiver trade deadline 11 weeks away.
When told that the Giants had talked internally about trading for him, Reyes shrugged.
"I don't know about that," Reyes said. "I don't know. Whatever happens, happens. I just want to play baseball. Right now I just want to stay with this team and I'm going to continue to play and do my job 100 percent every single night. The only thing I can control is baseball."
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