“First we’ll use Spahn, then we’ll use Sain, Then an off day, followed by rain. Back will come Spahn, followed by Sain, And followed, we hope, by two days of rain.”

Boston Post sports editor Gerald Hern wrote a poem that led to the above hoped-for sequence in 1948. Spahn and Sain were the only two solid starting pitchers on the pennant winning 1948 Boston Braves.

While the 2010 San Francisco Giants are not quite in such dire straits, Tim Lincecum is getting close to putting the Giants into a situation where it is rapidly becoming “Zito, Sanchez and Cain, then let’s pray for a little rain.”

Lincecum has a three game losing streak for the first time in his brief career.

In his last three starts, his ERA is an obscene 10.28. He is no longer dominant despite the fact that he is still striking out batters. The key is that batters are making better contact when they hit the ball.

In 2008, Tim allowed 182 hits in 227 innings or 0.801 hits per inning.

In 2009, Tim allowed 168 hits in 225.3 innings or 0.746 per inning.

This season, he has given up 152 hits in 159.3 innings, or 0.954 hits per inning.

What is more alarming is that he has allowed 11 earned runs in only seven and two-thirds innings in his last two starts against the Chicago Cubs and the San Diego Padres. Neither team reminds anyone of the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers.

Lincecum is trying to rely less on his father’s help. He believes that he knows his mind and body best.

“I’m 26. I don’t need a babysitter anymore.”

After his loss to the Cubs, Lincecum told reporters “I’m not hurting. I don’t feel dead or tired. I had good stuff. It’s a matter of where I throw it and my motion, being able to repeat it.”

Yesterday against the Padres Lincecum finally expressed some concern, although he remains optimistic that he is merely experiencing a cold streak.

After the game, Tim and Giants’ pitching coach Dave Righetti spoke for more than one hour. After the discussion, Lincecum did admit that he sometimes loses his confidence.

“You get frustrated when things don’t go your way, or the way they have been. You’ve just got to keep coming to the field every day and working with a purpose and knowing that it’s going to come back, and that’s pretty much what I’m trying to get to.”

If Lincecum doesn’t return to form, enormous pressure is put on the Giants’ other four starters.

Barry Zito, Matt Cain, and Jonathan Sanchez are solid, although Sanchez still walks too many batters.

Madison Bumgarner has been a pleasant addition, but the Giants are watching him game-by-game as they decide how many innings they will allow him to pitch.

Bumgarner is only 21 years old, and has worked 146 innings between his minor and major league assignments.

At this time, the Giants have a chance of catching the Padres or finishing as the wild card, but not without an effective Tim Lincecum.

The Tim Lincecum who won two Cy Young Awards gave the Giants an excellent chance of winning every time he pitched.

He took pressure off the bullpen, put pressure on the opposition’s defense and pitching staff, and gave his team the confidence only an ace can provide.

Lincecum was the stopper, which helped the Giants’ other starters.

If he fails to regain his form, it will be an almost impossible task for the Giants to make the playoffs.

It is unlikely that “Zito, Sanchez and Cain, then let’s pray for a little rain,” will work this season.


Around the Horn

Tim Lincecum at CBS Sports

Padres Beat Giants

Cubs Rough Up Lincecum

Bumgarner Wants to Pitch

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