Lincecum's rare struggle not a concern

Lincecum's rare struggle not a concern

CINCINNATI -- Heat and humidity were cited as a possible cause of Tim Lincecum's noticeable drop in velocity during Tuesday's game.

Lincecum endured a rare bout of ineffectiveness in the Giants' 8-5 triumph. He worked six innings and allowed all of Cincinnati's runs, matching a season high. He also struck out a season-low two batters.

Scouts noted that Lincecum's fastball barely exceeded 90 mph, more than 5 mph below its usual speed, and that his offspeed pitches also traveled more slowly and had less bite.

This was the same Lincecum who allowed four earned runs in his previous 33 2/3 innings while establishing himself as the Major League strikeout leader.

But game-time temperature was 84 degrees, and the accompanying humidity surely made conditions more uncomfortable.

"It's just a matter of how you deal with it, and I didn't really handle it well yesterday," Lincecum said Wednesday. "It just hit me differently. Maybe I didn't prepare well enough or hydrate myself well enough. It's one of those things I'll try not to let happen again -- let the conditions take over my performance."

Lincecum, whose primarly lapse was a four-run second inning, emphasized that he wasn't making excuses. In fact, pitching coach Dave Righetti agreed that Lincecum's dullness "could have been weather-related."

Said Righetti, "You can't throw 95 [mph] all the time. Yesterday, the concern with me was that he looked fine at the start of the game and as soon as he had a stressful inning, it really dropped."

Lincecum said that he lacked his usual rhythm, which Righetti also considered significant.

"That will drop [velocity] down, because you tend to lose your aggressiveness and feel for things," Righetti said.

Righetti isn't close to panicking over Lincecum (12-3), who ranks second in the National League with a 2.37 ERA and leads the league with 178 1/3 innings pitched.

"If this happens a couple more times in a row, then it's something I'd start to get a little bit more concerned about," Righetti said.

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