Braves hope to demystify 'The Freak'

Braves hope to demystify 'The Freak'

ATLANTA -- Braves third baseman Chipper Jones has faced over 1,000 pitchers in his Major League career, but he has never seen anything quite like Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum. Lincecum is known as "The Freak" for good reason, because there really aren't too many current or past pitchers he compares to.

The Braves will do their best to solve Lincecum on Wednesday, when they send their own young gun, Jair Jurrjens, to the mound to oppose him. Lincecum tossed eight shutout innings against the Braves in San Francisco in May and has baffled big league hitters all season long.

When asked if any pitcher he has faced reminds him of Lincecum, Jones could only come up with one answer.

"Maybe Pedro Martinez, just being small in stature and having a big arm," Jones said. "Both have the great changeups. But Lincecum has another element that Pedro really didn't have back in the day, and that's the big curveball."

Lincecum is listed at 5-foot-11 and 160 pounds, but is probably even smaller than that. However, he possesses some of the most dominant pitches in baseball and has used those pitches to post a 10-2 record and a 2.27 ERA to this point.

He also leads Braves pitcher Javier Vazquez in the National League strikeouts race and started for the NL in the All-Star Game.

If the Braves are going to get to Lincecum on Wednesday, it would be the first time. Lincecum is 5-0 with a 2.08 career ERA against Atlanta and completely shut the Braves down on May 26. In that game, he allowed just five hits and struck out eight.

In order to have any hope of generating offense against Lincecum, Jones says the Braves have to avoid striking out, which is, of course, easier said than done.

"His stuff is so nasty, so he's definitely one of those guys you don't want to face," Jones said. "With any power pitcher, they rely on the strikeout. If you put 20 balls in play, you have a chance to score a couple runs off him and hope your pitcher shuts down their lineup. But if you go out and only put 15 outs in play, that's when you struggle to score runs against him."

Jones mentioned that a strong pitching effort opposing Lincecum is usually required for a victory, and the Braves have a good shot at getting such an effort Wednesday.

Jurrjens has been almost as dominant as Lincecum this season, as he enters Wednesday with a 2.77 ERA. Over his last five starts, he is 3-2 with a 2.45 ERA and opponents are hitting just .196 against him over that span.

Pitching matchup
ATL: RHP Jair Jurrjens (8-7, 2.77 ERA)
Jurrjens was again brilliant Friday night when his team honored 355-game winner Greg Maddux, but Jurrjens' dominance was hardly needed. His teammates backed him with 11 runs against the Mets while he cruised to a two-hit shutout through six innings of work. The Curacao native left the game after throwing just 85 pitches to allow members of the Braves bullpen to get some work in the blowout. Jurrjens has now won consecutive starts for the first time since his first two starts of the season. He is winless against the Giants in two career starts.

SF: RHP Tim Lincecum (10-2, 2.27 ERA)
After throwing 35 pitches over two innings in the All-Star Game, Lincecum came back to fire 119 pitches in seven innings three days later at Pittsburgh. He performed to his usual standard, allowing one run and walking one while striking out 10 -- his 16th career double-digit strikeout game. Lincecum excels against most clubs, but he has been especially effective against the Braves, whom he has beaten five times in five career starts while posting a 2.08 ERA.

Tidbits
On Tuesday, Derek Lowe pitched his team-leading 15th quality start and his third consecutive. He has allowed just six home runs in 124 2/3 innings pitched this season. ... The Braves' pitching staff now has a 55 2/3-inning homerless streak. ... Martin Prado has hit safely in 12 of his last 13 games, and Casey Kotchman extended his career-high hitting streak to 13 games Tuesday. ... Peter Moylan pitched in his Majors-leading 52nd game Tuesday and has yet to allow a home run. ... Six of the Braves' eight RBIs on Tuesday came with two outs, four of which came from catcher Brian McCann. ... Kelly Johnson went 2-for-4 with an RBI for Triple-A Gwinnett on Tuesday as he continues to rehab from wrist tendinitis.

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Up next
• Thursday: Braves (Kenshin Kawakami, 5-7, 4.15) vs. Giants (Barry Zito, 5-10, 4.89), 1:00 p.m. ET
• Friday: Braves (Javier Vazquez, 7-7, 2.86) at Brewers (Manny Parra, 4-8, 6.37), 8:05 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Braves (Tommy Hanson, 5-0, 3.00) at Brewers (Yovani Gallardo, 8-7, 3.28), 7:05 p.m. ET

Adam Rosenberg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.