Right-hander affirms development as hurler with gem against Padres
SAN DIEGO -- Tim Lincecum's no-hitter against the Padres on Saturday was more than just a historic event. It marked the affirmation of his development as a pitcher.
Lincecum has thrived with deliveries other than his fastball throughout his career. As a rookie in 2007, for instance, he displayed a wicked curveball. In succeeding seasons he developed a devastating changeup. But he won his National League Cy Young Awards in 2008 and '09 largely on the strength of his fastball, which consistently traveled in the 95-mph range.
Lincecum lost that velocity about three years ago, but he has gained increasing command of such secondary deliveries as his slider, changeup and curveball. Moreover, he understands more thoroughly how to mix those pitches into his repertoire and use them to complement his fastball, which remains effective when he spots it well.
"I've been able to buy into the changes I needed to make, not being resistant to them, and accepting of the process," Lincecum said on Sunday, one day after he pitched the 15th no-hitter in franchise history.
Lincecum's stuff might not be as overwhelming as it once was, but it's still impressive. He coaxed 29 swings-and-misses, a personal high that matched Randy Johnson's total for the most in a no-hitter since 2000. Johnson's feat came on May 18, 2004, at Atlanta when he pitched for Arizona.
Lincecum may have changed his style, but not his persona. Asked if he considers himself a power pitcher, he replied, "I think I have to treat myself like that. It may not show on the [radar] gun or anything like that, but I think when I try to throw the pitches that I throw, I throw them with the intent of a power pitcher."
Lincecum, whose cap from Saturday's game will be sent to Cooperstown, N.Y., to be displayed at the Hall of Fame, ignores the skeptics who doubt his ability to excel without a searing fastball.
"At least I have something to say back right now," said Lincecum, whose first post-All-Star start is likely to come on July 22 against Cincinnati at AT&T Park.
Lincecum also can silence the folks who ramble about his alleged feud with catcher Buster Posey.
"I don't know where it comes from," he said. "I guess it looked like we were still angry at each other when he picked me up off the mound."
Once Posey hoisted him in sheer joy, Lincecum had trouble coming down. He tried to unwind with his girlfriend and two dogs, who made the trip with him -- a French bulldog and a half-bulldog/half-pug. He telephoned his father, Chris, whose tutelage has been instrumental in his success, and tried watching a couple of movies before finally falling asleep at around 3:30 a.m. PT.
One postgame aid Lincecum didn't need was ice. Despite throwing a career-high 148 pitches, he stuck to his lifelong routine by refusing to use ice on his arm. Or anywhere else, for that matter.
"Not even in the drinks that I didn't have last night," he jokingly said.