Lincecum just wants to win

Lincecum just wants to win
October 28, 2012, 5:40 am
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DETROIT -- Aside from a few slips of the tongue, Tim Lincecum has been nearly perfect this postseason in his new role.

The Giants right-hander added yet another chapter of dominance out of the bullpen on Saturday night as he delivered 2 13 shutout innings in a 2-0 victory over the Detroit Tigers in Game 3 of the World Series.

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Lincecum followed 5 23 scoreless innings from starter Ryan Vogelsong with three strikeouts and limited the Tigers to a walk. In 13 innings as a reliever this postseason, Lincecum has a 0.69 ERA and 17 strikeouts while allowing only three hits and two walks.

If the two-time Cy Young Award winner harbors any disappointment after he was removed from the rotation before the World Series, it hasnt surfaced in his performance.

The Giants send Matt Cain to the mound in Game 4 at 5:07 p.m. on Sunday against Detroits Max Scherzer in search of their second World Series title in three seasons.

The second we got that ring, its like that taste for that next ring is just sitting right in your mouth the whole time, Lincecum said before he decided to reword his statement. That sounds terrible. Let me rephrase that. It just leaves you wanting it even more, and if that means being a good teammate or being in the bullpen, I really dont care. I just want to win.

In his only 2012 postseason start, Lincecum allowed four earned runs, six hits and walked three in 4 23 innings in a loss at St. Louis in Game 4 of the National League Championship series.

The Oct. 18 performance came on the heels of a regular season in which Lincecum -- a Cy Young winner in 2008 and 2009 -- finished with a 5.18 ERA, the worst among qualifying National League starters.

But the bullpen has been a different story.

Lincecums 0.69 relief ERA is the 11th lowest in major league postseason history for pitchers with at least 13 innings.

If hes unhappy with his temporary role, its yet to be detected by teammates and coaches, who said theyre impressed with how he has handled the transition.

He could have been upset about going to the bullpen, and not one second did you ever see that from him, Vogelsong said. He just went down there and came out firing BBs, and hes been really impressive.

He has relished the role, manager Bruce Bochy said. He accepted it and really acted like he looked forward to helping the club in that role, and thats why I think hes having success.

He must have really relished Saturdays opportunity.

After he took over for Vogelsong in the bottom of the sixth inning with a man aboard and two outs, Lincecum got Jhonny Peralta to line out to right-center field. He defused a potential seventh-inning rally after he walked Austin Jackson with two outs with a three-pitch strikeout of Quintin Berry, the last two strikes swinging.

But Lincecum saved his best for the eighth when he retired Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera on a grounder to short and struck out cleanup hitter Prince Fielder on three pitches. After Delmon Young reached on Brandon Crawfords throwing error, Lincecum finished the frame with a strikeout of Andy Dirks.

Not only was Lincecums changeup effective, his fastball topped 93 mph.

He definitely has an air about him, catcher Buster Posey said. Its confidence. And the stuff is really, really good. The fastball has movement I havent seen in a while. I dont know exactly why that is, but Ill take it.

Reliever George Kontos thinks he has the explanation. Lincecum has been airing it out in the bullpen because he doesnt have to preserve anything for later innings. Instead of pitching deep into a game, Lincecum can use his entire arsenal knowing hell only need to 30-plus pitches.

Hes not worried about pacing himself, Kontos said. Hes going batter-by-batter and hes just giving the hitter everything he has got and hes got some pretty good stuff.

Dan Hayes is the White Sox Insider for CSNChicago.com