Tim Lincecum returns to form with 12 strikeouts against Twins

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Tim Lincecum entered Thursday 0-2 with a 7.59 ERA in four starts this month, but one never would have guessed it from his showing against the Twins.  He pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and striking out 12, before exiting a 1-0 game.

Lincecum started this season showing better velocity than he had either of the previous two years, but with his mechanics a bit out whack, he has lost something off his fastball over the last several weeks.  That was a secondary issue, though; the bigger problem was his struggles with his command.  He walked 12 in 15 innings over his previous three starts.

In this one, Lincecum walked two and threw 72 of his 109 pitches for strikes.  He certainly wasn’t facing the best of lineups; the Twins’ four-best hitters (Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Jim Thome and Jason Kubel) were all absent, as was center fielder Denard Span.  Still, with the way Lincecum was throwing today, there wasn’t a team in the league that would have fared a whole lot better.  It was a very encouraging performance for the two-time Cy Young Award winner.

Manny Machado, batting second, playing shortstop in his Dodgers debut

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The biggest news of the All-Star break — even bigger than the All-Star Game itself — was the trade of Manny Machado to the Dodgers. We talked about it for days, but now the talking is done: Machado is playing shortstop and is batting second in his Dodgers debut this evening against the Brewers in Milwaukee.

Machado is expected to play a little third base for the Dodgers, too, but with Justin Turner still out with a bum hop, Machado will play his preferred position. It’s not the one he plays as well, but that’s another topic altogether and is, eventually, going to be Dave Roberts’ problem.

Machado is hitting .315/.387/.575 with 24 homers and 65 RBI on the year. Those numbers all get set back to zero now that he’s in the National League, however. Tonight he begins compiling new numbers.