DENVER Tim Lincecum had so many inches trimmed away at thebarber shop, you could see the back of his neck for the first time in years.
The Colorado Rockies proceeded to step on it Wednesdaynight.
Lincecum retired just seven of 17 batters while failing tocomplete three innings for the first time in 157 career starts in the Giants17-8 loss at Coors Field. After two outings, Lincecum has a 12.91 ERA. He hasallowed 14 hits and three walks in 7.2 innings.
RECAP: Lincecum rocked, Giants fall to Rockies 17-8
Whats wrong with the Giants two-time Cy Young Awardwinner? Where will he turn for answers?
I dont think its a matter of finding the answers per se,Lincecum said. Its just a matter of grinding through it. Youll have thesegames or streaks. You just get them out of the way now and grind through it.
The grind doesnt get any easier. Lincecums home debut isscheduled for Monday against Roy Halladay and the Philadelphia Phillies. (Andno, ssory doc, the Giants cant take out a 24-hour loan on Cody Ross from the Red Sox.)
Lincecum didnt look good most of the spring and hisfastball velocity continues to raise eyebrows. He pitched in the 90-92 range --slightly better than where he was in his opening-day loss at Arizona -- but below his average of 92.2 mphfrom last season, according to PitchFX.
The bigger issue was Lincecums inability to use hisput-away changeup effectively. Of the eight hits he allowed, seven were onoffspeed pitches, mostly changeups.
They did seem to be sitting on it, Lincecum told me.Theyre hunting my go-to pitch and I shouldve made the adjustment and thrownthe fastball more. It just happened too quickly. I didnt give myself a chanceto think about what was going on.
Lincecum was working with rookie catcher Hector Sanchez, alast-minute replacement after Buster Posey was scratched because of theshingles. Lincecum definitely looked perturbed when Sanchez failed to block asecond wild pitch that allowed a run to score in the third.
But Lincecum put the blame squarely on himself, saying,its just sloppy baseball for me.
Lincecum has been through these vexing times before.Remember his 0-5 August in 2010? Back then, he began using his slider more andended up being a dynamo down the stretch and through the playoffs.
Maybe the slider can be his magic bullet again, if hedecides to throw it. But Lincecum said the solution is even simpler: He justneeds to make his pitch.
Every year youre expecting to gain improvements andknowledge, Lincecum said. You find yourself fixing one thing and taking forgranted another thing. Its just being more aware and just executing pitches.Thats the biggest thing I can do.
Manager Bruce Bochy is not fretting over his ace, either.
I actually thought his stuff was a little crisper, Bochysaid. He was just up. He left a lot of pitches up, a lot of mistakes when hewas ahead in the count. He had a tough time putting hitters away. Really,across the board, we made way too many mistakes.
Hell find a way to come out of this.
It better be soon. Big Roy will be waiting.
Definitely, itll be nice to kick off our season at home,Lincecum said. Whatever losses we have to this point will be behind us.