TACOMA -- The setting was perfect. North Western Washington, 67 degrees, slightly cloudy, small breeze, one pitcher, one mound - Tim Lincecum was home.
Just a 45-minute drive from where he grew up, Lincecum took the mound in a professional baseball game, pitching for the Salt Lake Bees. It was one of the final steps towards progressing to being in the Majors once again.
Lincecum warmed up, likely in front of old fans, friends and family who saw him pitch in high school and college. One, two, three, top of the first inning over, and here comes Timmy Jim.
First pitch, 90 miles per hour, missing the zone. The first inning wasn't the ideal return anyone expected for the two-time Cy Young Award winner. A single, a double, a walk, how could it get worse? Lincecum fell off the mound while delivering a pitch for a balk and a run charged.
Lincecum retired the side on his next 11 pitches, ending the inning with a strikeout. Second didn't go as poorly, but wasn't stellar either, seeing a run come across following a leadoff walk and single. Two innings in, three runs, three hits, two walks - not good.
Following the third run, "The Freak," turned into his old self. The next nine batters went down in order on 35 pitches, four by way of a strikeout. The streak of nine retired ended with a walk and hit by pitch, but Lincecum completed his five innings of work with the three runs being his limit.
88 pitches, 48 strikes, five innings, three hits, three runs, three walks, five strikeouts, one hit batter, one balk - the box score analysis of Lincecum's outing.
In attendance, as per every night in Minor League parks, were scouts. One of which noted that Lincecum was ranging 88-90 miles per hour with his fastball, touching 91 at times. The scout said Timmy had trouble repeating early, but cleaned up later in the outing, which may have been nerves. He created eight swing-and-misses total. Not too bad a night for a guy who hasn't pitched in a competitive game in nearly a year.