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09/13/09 9:00 PM ET
Lincecum returning for Wild showdown
Giants ace to open crucial set with Rockies on Monday
By Chris Haft / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Tim Lincecum believes that the Giants need added motivation as they cling to the fringes of postseason contention. "We've been pretty lax the last couple of days," Lincecum said on Sunday, after the Giants lost the first two games of their critical series against the Los Angeles Dodgers by a combined score of 19-4. "I think it's time for something to kick us in the butt. ... We have to turn something on. This is where it counts." Lincecum might help provide that spark. The right-hander, who missed his last start with back spasms, will start Monday night's series opener against the Colorado Rockies, who lead San Francisco by 4 1/2 games in the National League Wild Card race. "I just keep feeling better and better," said Lincecum, who performed his usual day-before-start routine, including playing catch and exercising his "core" muscles. Manager Bruce Bochy waited until after the Giants' 7-2 victory on Sunday over Los Angeles to confirm whether his ace would pitch. "He's good to go tomorrow. Timmy feels fine," Bochy said. "That's good news for us. We'll keep an eye on him, but he's passed all the tests." Lincecum grew up in the Seattle area and recalled the Mariners' comeback in the American League West against Anaheim in 1995. That year, the Mariners trailed Anaheim by 13 games on Aug. 2, yet rallied to win the division title in a playoff. With 20 games to go, the number the Giants have remaining, Seattle faced a six-game deficit. That's greater than the Giants' current disadvantage. "Obviously, we've kind of hit a skid in the last couple of days, dug ourselves a little bit of a bigger hole," Lincecum said before the Giants ended their four-game losing streak. "But anything can happen this last month. It's all coming down to the last game -- that's the mentality we've got to have. Take a little stronger approach to every game. Every game is like a playoff-style game. We have to approach it like that." Lincecum, the NL's reigning Cy Young Award winner who's 13-5 with a 2.34 ERA, itches to be part of that push, particularly after missing a start. "I just want to be out there really badly," Lincecum said. "You feel like you kind of let your teammates down and people down in general."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.