Lincecum simply endured a bad day, the kind that all athletes inevitably experience. He allowed three runs and four hits while walking three in three innings, matching the shortest outing of his career, in the Giants' 10-6 Opening Day win over the Milwaukee Brewers.
"I don't think there's an excuse or a reason why I did the way I did," Lincecum said. "It's just part of the game and part of the day."
As the National League's reigning Cy Young Award winner, Lincecum seemed impervious to such lapses. He seemed destined to recover after the first inning, when he struck out Prince Fielder and J.J. Hardy to strand Brewers on second and third. But opposing pitcher Jeff Suppan and Rickie Weeks lashed RBI doubles in the second inning before Milwaukee added another run in the third. Lincecum wanted to remain in the game, but after throwing 78 pitches, he was done.
"I didn't feel like I wasn't attacking the [strike] zone well enough," Lincecum said. "I was erratic at times and made good pitches at times, but not enough to help myself out."
Lincecum acknowledged his inability to command his fastball. Catcher Bengie Molina added that Lincecum also struggled with his curveball. None of this surprised the veteran catcher.
"I shouldn't say it, but I could tell right away" that Lincecum would struggle, Molina said.
Lincecum's rapid ascent to elite status among the game's pitchers complicates his efforts to right himself, since the mere sight of him gives opponents extra motivation.
"I have a target on my back and guys are going to try to make things happen against me, so I have to be ready for it," he said.
Molina said that he warned Lincecum about this during Spring Training.
"They're going to go out and try to hunt him," Molina said. "Why? Because it's a challenge for all those guys. He's the Cy Young Award [winner] and they want to prove something. They want to beat him. ... We have to try to find a way to make adjustments ourselves and beat them back."
Lincecum proved to be unintentionally amusing as he expressed his intent to maintain perspective.
"I'll try to take it with a grain of rice and move on," he said.
"Rice, salt, whatever. I'm half-Asian," Lincecum said.