LOS ANGELES Tim Lincecum has been asked to dissect countlesspoor starts this season, and many more that were below his previous standardsfor excellence.
Without fail, he has responded with placid earnestness.There has been no wide-eyed, sky is falling moments with reporters, like everyonesaw when he struggled in a winless August, 2010.
That is a good thing, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. Hedoesnt want Lincecum panicking. But its also time for a sense of urgency. TheGiants absolutely need Lincecum to be nearer to his Cy Young form as hetakes the ball Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium, with first place at stake.
Is it time for Timmy to be Timmy?
Yeah, I think it is, Bochy said of Lincecum, who is 6-12with a 5.45 ERA. Were getting to the back end of August here. Its going tobe important for Timmy and for us to get on track and pitches better and Illemphasize pitch. That gets away from him sometimes.
Theres no question Lincecum has had trouble minimizinginnings and making quality pitches in the lower portion of the strike zone. Andtheres no question he has had difficulty maintaining his stuff when hes taxedwith a 25-plus pitch inning in the early going.
Yet Lincecum also ranks third in the NL with 9.43 strikeoutsper nine innings.
Hes healthy and his stuff is good, Bochy said. But someof those games that get away from him he forgets to pitch. He knows how. Hesalways had the ability to adjust to a lineup or a team.
Lincecum has been better since the All-Star break. Hes 3-3with a 3.30 ERA with five quality starts among seven assignments. Yet hes alsocoming off a messy outing against Washington in which he threw 96 pitches injust four innings.
It doesnt take much, Bochy said. The plate is only 17inches (wide). Youre two or three inches off, and, well A lack of confidencecan cause that. And it doesnt matter how good you are. Occasionally, doubt cancreep in.
Lincecum is pitching 20 or so pounds lighter than a year ago, whichmight explain some of his stamina issues. But Bochy said he took no issue withthe right-handers preparation or attitude. It doesnt sound as if Lincecum hasbeen subject to any chew-out sessions, as in the past.
For the most part he has stayed positive, Bochy said. Hehasnt stopped believing, hasnt stopped working. In all those areas, hesdoing well.
Now the Giants need him to be good in the area that mattersmost -- that bump in the middle of the diamond.