SAN DIEGO — Among the many quirks that make Tim Lincecum a unique pitcher is that he never ices his arm after starts. He wasn't about to break with tradition after throwing a 148-pitch no-hitter.
"Nope, no ice," Lincecum said Sunday morning, a day after he made history in a 9-0 Giants victory over the San Diego Padres. "Not even in the drinks I didn't have last night."
Lincecum said the celebration of his first no-hitter was muted. He watched movies with his girlfriend and two dogs. He also spoke to his father, Chris Lincecum, who always taught his son to limit excitement after good starts and disappointment after bad ones. While Tim cherished the reactions of friends and family members, he said he was trying to "hover in the middle" and not get too worked up.
In the middle of his seventh big league season, Lincecum is hovering well above the shaky ground he walked at the All-Star break last season. Lincecum gave up 13 earned runs in his final two first-half starts a year ago and entered the break with a 6.42 ERA.
After throwing the 15th no-hitter in franchise history, Lincecum heads for a brief vacation with a 4.26 ERA. In his last eight starts, Lincecum has a 3.16 ERA that is in line with the 2.98 career mark he took into the 2012 season.
Lincecum, once known for his blazing fastball, said he has learned to pitch effectively with a new repertoire.
"At the end of the day, it's buying into the changes you need to make," he said. "It's not being resistant to them and being accepting of the process."
Lincecum, 29, said he now does more homework between starts."I think I always kind of wanted to rely on the fact that I had good stuff," he said.
"(Now) it goes back more to studying hitters and learning tendencies and finding weak spots and exploiting them."
Lincecum has done that in the run-up to the break, even as the team has struggled. The Giants had lost his previous six starts, but for weeks teammates have privately lamented that they were failing their former ace in the field and at the plate. Before Saturday's game, Lincecum was receiving just 3.52 runs of support, the lowest figure on the staff and 10th lowest in the National League.