SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants made a couple of moves before Tuesday's trade deadline passed, but their biggest potential difference-maker remains one of the most well-known names in franchise history.
If Tim Lincecum returns to his old form down the stretch, the Giants should have the pitching strength to pull away from the rest of division. If he can't, it might not matter that they brought in Hunter Pence and Marco Scutaro to bolster the lineup.
Thus far, the second-half results are encouraging. Lincecum led the charge in a 4-1 victory over the New York Mets at AT&T Park, striking out seven in seven innings. In four starts since the All-Star break, Lincecum has a 2.70 ERA.
"There's no doubt if we can get him going it's going to be huge for us," Buster Posey said. "You saw what he was capable of doing in 2010 when he got on a roll in September and in the playoffs."
Posey caught Lincecum during that magical run and on Tuesday he teamed with Lincecum for the first time since June 16. The reunion was at times a painful one for Posey, who spent much of his time in the dirt on a night when Lincecum was effectively wild.
"He can beat me up as much as he wants as long as we get outs," Posey said.
There were plenty of those. After giving up a second-inning run, Lincecum retired 13 of the next 15 before loading the bases with one out in the seventh. He got Josh Thole to line out, then dropped a perfect two-strike curveball on
"I wanted to go to (the curveball) because I hadn't used it much," Lincecum said. "It's one of those 'freeze' pitches."
The Mets' best hitter froze, and Lincecum walked off en route to his fifth win of the season. It snapped a five-game losing streak for the Giants.
"When Timmy is good he has a great knack for making pitches when he has to, and he did tonight," manager Bruce Bochy said. "I thought he had all his pitches going. He really was under control and threw strikes. It's hard to throw a better pitch than he did (to Wright)."
Lincecum rebounded after giving up five runs in 42/3 innings to San Diego in his previous outing.
The Giants put four runs across on a force out, an error, a double play and a single. It wasn't pretty, but it was enough to get a lead to Jeremy Affeldt, who pitched two perfect innings to pick up his second save.
Affeldt made sure there would be celebratory music in the clubhouse. Pence, acquired in a trade Tuesday morning, brought such a buzz to the clubhouse that the music was drowned out.
Pence landed in San Francisco in the eighth inning and got to AT&T Park shortly thereafter. Lincecum was discussing Pence's strengths when
"There he is!" Lincecum said, lighting up
Pence was just as happy to see the Giants. In the span of a few hours, he went from a last-place Phillies team to a Giants club that moved back into sole possession of first place.
"They're in the race, so what more can you ask for?" Pence said. "This team is doing real well as it is. Hopefully you mix me in there, and it makes it a little bit better."
Huff reinjured his right knee Monday night and was supposed to be placed on the disabled list Tuesday, but the Giants waited on making a move when it became clear Pence would not make it to the ballpark in time to play against the Mets.
The stint on the disabled list will be the third of the season for Huff, who has just 61 at-bats. Huff previously missed a total of 49 games because of an anxiety disorder, a right knee sprain and tendinitis.
Pill made the roster out of spring training and made 36 appearances before being sent down June 8. Pill was hitting just .215 at the time but returned to form while playing on a regular basis in Fresno. He was hitting .286 with eight homers, 14 doubles and 35 RBIs in 45 games for the Grizzlies.
"I made good contact," he said, smiling. "But if you know the consequences, you don't do it. I learned my lesson."