Lincecum still playing catchup with mechanics

Angels starter tagged for 5 runs over 4 1/3 innings

Lincecum still playing catchup with mechanics

ANAHEIM -- It didn't take long for Tim Lincecum to realize he didn't have his fastball.

"I had to work around that," Lincecum said, "and then I found myself becoming one-dimensional again."

Lincecum began his Tuesday start against the Astros by walking two of the first three batters, then got behind in the count to Carlos Correa, tried to locate an 87 mph fastball low and away and watched it sail into the left-field bullpen for the three-run homer that drove in the winning runs in the Angels' eventual 7-1 defeat, their eighth loss in the last nine days.

Lincecum wound up recording only 13 outs, charged with five runs on seven hits, four walks and -- because the Astros whiff more often than any other team in baseball -- seven strikeouts.

Lincecum on loss to Astros

The 32-year-old right-hander signed an incentive-laden, pro-rated, $2.5 million contract with the Angels on May 20, a little more than eight months after hip surgery. He impressed in his season debut, limiting the A's to six baserunners and one run in six innings on June 18. But Lincecum has since allowed nine runs on 14 hits and six walks in 7 1/3 innings at Angel Stadium, a place that is supposed to play favorably to his fly-ball tendencies.

On Thursday, he gave up four second-inning runs and required 83 pitches to complete three innings.

On Tuesday, his fastball command was admittedly "pretty terrible," and from there, Lincecum said, "I was just trying to B.S. my way through it," mostly by relying heavily on his changeup.

"I think I'm just trying to overthrow it right now, still gauge where it plays," Lincecum said of a fastball that is sitting mostly 87-88 mph, about where it was last season but a far cry from where it was in his early years.

"I know I'm not throwing hard anymore, but I still have to trust it and have confidence in it. That's where I'm sort of [deluding] myself. I'm not really convicting those pitches."

Lincecum strikes out Castro

The Angels -- a season-high 14 games under .500 and 19 games out of first place in the American League West, their largest deficit through 78 games in 15 years -- signed Lincecum out of sheer desperation.

Four of their starting pitchers were tending to serious ailments and five of their current ones were fighting inconsistencies. They didn't need Lincecum to be the guy from 2008-11, when he made four All-Star teams, claimed two National League Cy Young Awards and won a World Series championship. But they needed him to keep them in games, perhaps spare the bullpen every once in a while, and he hasn't really done that, either.

Given the length of his rehab, Lincecum was asked if he's still a little rusty.

"Yes and no," he said. "But at the same time, I'm here, and I committed to being here and tell myself that I was ready, so I'm willing to work within that. I accept what I'm going through right now. I want to move forward and get through it."

Alden Gonzalez has covered the Angels for MLB.com since 2012. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.