Tim Lincecum, reliever. Sounds pretty good after all.
Lincecum was demoted to the bullpen for the playoffs because his numbers were worse than Barry Zito's (especially late in the season), but the two-time Cy Young Award winner made a huge impact Wednesday in Game 4 of the National League Division Series. Out of the bullpen, he threw 4 1/3 innings for the win in the Giants' 8-3 victory over the Reds, which forced a Game 5 on Thursday.
"The times are different," Lincecum said. "We're playing for a different reason than just the season, to get to the NLCS and further. With that motivation, it helps to get into those situations and not think about the difference of starting and being in the bullpen."
Lincecum had 15 losses and a 5.18 ERA in the regular season. But Wednesday, once he arrived for his second relief outing of the series, he seemed like the old Timmy.
He retired 13 of 15 batters, struck out six and walked none. Forty-two of his 55 pitches were strikes, and he had an effective changeup to complement his fastball, of which he had total command.
"I know it's been an up-and-down year for him," manager Bruce Bochy said. "But I knew he would play a huge role in this."
Lincecum's biggest out was his first one. With two aboard and two outs in the fourth, Bochy called him in from the bullpen, and Lincecum struck out Ryan Ludwick on a changeup, ending the inning.
For the deciding Game 5, Lincecum said he'll be available if necessary.