ANAHEIM, Calif. — “Tim Lincecum 2.0” will make his third start for the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday, this time facing the Houston Astros after twice taking on the Oakland A's.
Which Lincecum will show up, however, is anybody's guess.
In his first start, Lincecum held the A's to one run and four hits in six innings and earned a victory. In his second start five days later, the A's made the proper adjustments and knocked him out of the game after just three innings. Lincecum gave up four runs and seven hits while making 83 pitches.
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After the loss, Lincecum mentioned a mechanical flaw in his delivery.
“My shoulders were going horizontally,” he told reporters after the June 23 setback to Oakland. “Stuff was flattening out. Pitching on both sides of the plate and missing on either side. I didn't do a good job of hitting my spots.”
And when the A's hit the ball, they found holes, unlike in their first game against him.
“They were just getting the balls in play and hitting balls to where we weren't,” he said. “You have to tip your cap to them. They made an adjustment. I just didn't make the adjustment back.”
Lincecum has had success against the Astros in his career, going 5-0 with a 0.99 ERA in five career starts. But that was the “other” Lincecum, the one who won two Cy Young awards pitching for the Giants and before having hip surgery last September.
He'll be matched up against Scott Feldman, who is making a spot start in place of Lance McCullers.
“After his last start (June 22 vs. the Angels) Lance came down with a small start of a blister on the tip of his (index) finger,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “He didn't realize it until he started throwing the next day and it was tender at the very tip of his finger so he stopped his throwing program. We are erring on the side of caution.”
It will be Feldman's fifth start of the season, but the first four didn't go so well. Feldman was 0-2 with a 4.58 ERA in those four starts, as he was in the starting rotation to start the season.
He was sent to the bullpen and has thrived ever since, going 4-1 with a 1.85 ERA in 16 relief appearances, 12 of which were scoreless.
“He deserves the first crack at it,” Hinch told reporters before Monday's game against the Angels. “It's a spot start and he'll be able to be stretched out a little bit depending on how efficient he is. He's pitched a lot in his career as a starter. It's not going to spook him at all. I'm glad we have Scott Feldman available to take on this role when something like this comes up.”
With Houston's 4-2 win Monday, the two teams continued heading in opposite directions. With two games remaining before the start of July, the Astros are 16-8 in June while the Angels are 8-17.