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.
"He's been throwing the ball well lately," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's had some tough luck."
Bochy thought Lincecum looked so effortless on Saturday that he let the right-hander become just the third big leaguer since 2003 to throw 148 pitches.
"You let the dog run," Bochy said. "There's no way I could have taken the kid out. He was still going strong."
Lincecum was still buzzing late into the night as he placed a phone call to his father, the man responsible for the finely tuned mechanics and disdain for ice.
"He reacted the same way he does when anything good happens," Lincecum said. "He starts acting like a little kid and starts becoming a smartass. He has a weird way of showing his love, and I wouldn't have it any other way."While sitting in the home dugout an hour before Sunday's game, Lincecum was also still marveling at Buster Posey's show of appreciation. As Lincecum stood on the mound late Saturday night and watched the clinching out, Posey ran up behind him. The catcher slammed into his surprised pitcher, the bearhug immediately bringing huge smiles to the faces of two superstars who have long tried to quash rumors that they don't get along.