"I fully expect to make the start," Lincecum said. "It's not like they told me to get ready for Game 1. They just said, 'Get ready for your next start.' So I think that's what they're talking about, yeah."
Lincecum split two decisions in the NLCS with Phillies ace Roy Halladay, winning Game 1 and losing Game 5. And it won't get any easier as the Giants head back to the World Series for the first time since 2002 and fourth since the team moved from New York to San Francisco in 1958.
Lincecum's Game 1 opponent will be left-hander Cliff Lee, who is a composite 7-0 with a 1.26 ERA the last two postseasons, including 3-0 with an 0.75 ERA this year and 2-0 against the Yankees, with the Phillies, in last year's World Series.
But that's to worry about next week. Lincecum is 2-1 with a 1.93 ERA in four appearances, three starts this postseason, his first. His best outing of October was a two-hit, 14-strikeout shutout against the Braves in Game 1 of the NL Division Series.
Saturday night was for celebrating.
"This is unbelievable," Lincecum said. "It's pretty surreal. You dream about these things when you're a kid. You even dream about them when you're a Major League Baseball player. These things are finally coming to fruition, coming together. When all the pieces come together at once it's a pretty awesome sight to see, especially with this group of players."
Bochy said he spoke to Lincecum before the game and told the right-hander he might be used in relief if the right situation arose. It was Lincecum's regular bullpen day after starting this past Thursday in San Francisco, and for that reason he was held out of the session.
As the game developed, Jonathan Sanchez was pulled after walking Placido Polanco and hitting Chase Utley to open the third inning with the score tied at 2.
From that juncture, it was all hands on deck as the Giants bullpen held the Phillies scoreless for the final seven innings.
"We told him before the game that if we had a one-run lead he would be the setup guy," Bochy said. "I was hoping he'd give us an inning or get us some outs, and then I could go to [Brian Wilson]."
That's exactly what happened. Juan Uribe homered to right with two out in the eighth inning, breaking the tie and giving the Giants a 3-2 lead. So as the bottom of the inning was set to begin, Lincecum came trotting in from the bullpen just to the right of the center-field batter's eye.
He struck out Jayson Werth swinging and then was touched for base hits by Shane Victorino and Raul Ibanez. In came Wilson, who was saved himself when Carlos Ruiz lined to first into an inning-ending double play.
It was only the second relief appearance of Lincecum's four-year career, the first coming early in the 2008 season.
"It's a little different," said Lincecum, who won the 2008-09 NL Cy Young Awards for his prowess as a starter. "It's been a while since I've been in a situation like that. I don't have a lot of experience doing it. I was just coming in to do what I could, whether it was getting an out or leaving it the way I did. We've got guys in the bullpen to back us up.
"We've got Wilson in the closing role, and he's come in for inning-plus saves before. He knows what he's doing."