Lincecum stymied as Giants get swept

Lincecum stymied as Giants get swept

SAN DIEGO -- As a television camera-toting reporter began asking Tim Lincecum about the plight of owning an 0-2 record, the Giants right-hander politely but firmly corrected him.

"Oh-and-one," Lincecum interrupted.

That reflected what Lincecum's professional life has become. He performed so well last year that when he endures a rocky no-decision, as he did on Opening Day, casual observers consider it a stunning defeat.

And when Lincecum absorbs a genuine loss, as he did Sunday when the Giants fell, 6-1, to complete a three-game sweep for the San Diego Padres, some might think that the baseball world is spinning off its axis.

The result can be considered an upset, given Lincecum's dominance of the Padres. He entered the game with a 0.95 ERA in eight career appearances against them, his lowest against any opponent. He strengthened his National League Cy Young Award candidacy here in PETCO Park last year by allowing one run in 23 1/3 innings spanning three starts.

This game might have proceeded much differently had left fielder Fred Lewis caught Adrian Gonzalez's third-inning bloop after a delayed break for the ball. Instead of being the third out, it fell for an RBI single. Chase Headley followed with a homer that finished San Diego's three-run uprising and, as it turned out, essentially settled the outcome.

But Lincecum didn't let bad luck cloud his thinking, not after surrendering four runs and 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings. With his ERA resting at an unsightly 7.56, Lincecum admitted that his fastball command remains lacking, as it was in Tuesday's opener.

"They were really aggressive on fastballs. That was obvious," Lincecum said. "I gave up a lot of hits on that pitch, and it was due to lack of location and not throwing enough strikes. ... I wasn't throwing enough strikes with other stuff to make a difference."

Even while Lincecum struck out three in the first two innings and blanked the Padres, television cameras caught him muttering to himself and grimacing in disgust on the mound.

"I was all over the place," Lincecum said. "It got frustrating at times. I don't know if you guys could see it on my face, but I was trying to keep my poise out there. It was a rough game and it just got rougher."

Lincecum said that he typically doesn't scrutinize video of himself, particularly when he's thriving. But now that he's struggling, he intends to "go take a look and try to make the adjustment."

Catcher Bengie Molina related that Lincecum's deliveries veered too often over the middle of home plate instead of staying near a corner. Asked if Lincecum's fastball still had enough velocity and movement to subdue hitters, Molina replied confidently, "I think so. Whenever he hit his spots, they couldn't hit the ball. That tells me it's location."

After the second inning, when Lincecum left the bases loaded, Molina implored the Giants ace to focus on blowing away the Padres instead of overanalyzing his form.

"I told him, this is not the time to be working on mechanics. This is the time to get people out and make pitches," Molina said. "I told him straight out, 'Hey, you're the best pitcher out there.' During the game, I don't think any pitcher should be worrying about any mechanics. That worry should be in the bullpen."

The Giants (2-4) had other worries as San Diego swept them for the first time in any series since Sept. 14-16, 2007, and in their first meeting of the season of at least three games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, since April 13-15, 1990.

San Francisco's inexperienced corner infielders, first baseman Travis Ishikawa and third baseman Pablo Sandoval, went a combined 2-for-22 in the series -- though, in fairness, they had to face San Diego's two top pitchers, Jake Peavy and Chris Young. The latter limited the Giants to one unearned run and four hits in seven innings Sunday.

"They'll get settled in. They're young," Bochy said of Ishikawa and Sandoval. "We're six games into the season. They just need to relax. You have to stay behind these guys."

The Giants' outfield play wasn't always pretty. Besides barely missing Gonzalez's single, Lewis mistakenly dashed in for a Nick Hundley line drive later in the third inning. It sailed over his head for a double. Eugenio Velez, giving center fielder Aaron Rowand a rest, misplayed Hundley's career-high fourth hit for an error in the seventh inning.

"It's early," Lewis said. "We're all struggling right now."

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.