SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants literally left Tim Lincecum out in the cold during their NL Division Series with the Washington Nationals.
“It was … not warm,” said Lincecum, asked to describe the lonely bullpen conditions during the 18-inning ultra-marathon in Game 2 at Nationals Park.
Lincecum did not pitch as the Giants won three of four games and punched through to face the St. Louis Cardinals. But the right-hander will be on the Giants’ NLCS roster, manager Bruce Bochy said.
“I need to talk to Timmy, I’ll be honest,” Bochy said. “He doesn’t complain and he’s been great, but I need to get with him. He’s done a lot for us and I haven’t forgotten him. So I’ll touch base with him.”
Lincecum would have pitched the 18th inning Saturday if the Giants hadn’t scored in the top half, Bochy said. When they did on Brandon Belt’s home run, it became rookie Hunter Strickland’s assignment to close it out. Given Strickland’s 100-mph fastball, it’s understandable that Bochy bypassed Lincecum in that situation. But the manager also used Jean Machi in a couple spots in the series where, two years earlier, he might have turned to Lincecum, instead. And if we've learned anything from Bochy, he makes October decisions based on whom he trusts in the moment, not the length or sparkle of their career dossiers.
Lincecum said he tried not to read anything into the inactivity.
“I’ve just got to do my best to be a good teammate in that situation,” he said. “What they did in those four games was special. To not be a part of it doesn’t take any skin off my back. We won. That’s the goal.”
Two years ago, Lincecum made five relief appearances in the postseason and yielded just one run on three hits in 13 innings. He walked just two and struck out 17. He made his only start of the 2012 postseason in Game 4 of the NLCS, when the Cardinals tallied four runs in 4 2/3 innings on their way to an 8-3 victory and a 3-to-1 series lead.
He won’t start against the Cardinals this time, barring any strange developments. But he has thrown several times off a mound, he said he feels good physically and mechanically, and he’s ready for anything. There's a good chance he could provide a spark, especially at home. Say the Giants are trailing 4-2 in the fifth inning or so. The sight of Lincecum coming in from the bullpen would enliven the crowd, that much is certain, and maybe change the momentum.
“Whatever’s left in the tank will be poured out on the field whenever I get that chance,” Lincecum said.
He wants the ball. He’s a competitor. But in the meantime, the author of so many great postseason moments -- and a no-hitter earlier this season, too -- is getting a kick out of watching others get to experience them.
“It’s fun to watch guys have their moments and shine in them,” Lincecum said. “It’s surreal because you look back at what you did at a young age, and you see them doing this on the biggest stage, it’s hard not to be proud.
“I mean, I’m not their dad or anything. It’s more a brotherly thing, I guess.”