Lincecum: 'I have to find me'

Angels starter remains determined after worst start of career

HOUSTON -- Tim Lincecum walked off the mound with only one out in the second inning Sunday afternoon. The host Astros had already scored eight runs, and Lincecum had already completed what amounted to the worst start of his 10-year career.

"Pretty pathetic," Lincecum said, moments after sinking his Angels to a 13-3 dismantling at Minute Maid Park. "I have a lot of work to do."

Lincecum's ERA is 8.70, which ranks 332nd out of the 334 pitchers who have thrown at least 30 innings this season.

Those 30 innings span seven starts, a stretch in which Lincecum has allowed nine home runs, 45 other hits, 15 walks and, ultimately, 31 runs (29 of them earned). Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Lincecum will remain in the starting rotation, largely because his ballclub -- with as many as four starters who may not pitch the rest of this season -- isn't necessarily in a position to peel off starting-pitching depth.

"I'm confident in the process, that this is part of what I'm going through right now," Lincecum said. "If it takes going through this, then it takes going through this. And if they have to make a decision that puts me in a different position, then I'll be open to that. But at the same time, I'm definitely going to go after this as a starter and still keep grinding it out that way, and try to give my team a chance to win. I haven't been doing that."

With Andrew Heaney (left elbow) and C.J. Wilson (left shoulder) undergoing season-ending surgeries, and Garrett Richards and Nick Tropeano suffering tears in their ulnar collateral ligaments, the Angels' only other starting options are Jhoulys Chacin, who has been a long reliever all month, and top pitching prospect Nate Smith, who's still figuring it out in Triple-A.

Lincecum said he would be open to going to the bullpen if the Angels believed plugging in a different starter would give them a better chance to win.

"But I'll be honest with you -- I don't feel like I'm not one of those guys who can't give the team a chance to win."

Lincecum didn't give the Angels any chance in the series finale, ultimately causing their 11th consecutive defeat to the division-rival Astros, their longest losing streak against a single team since 1980.

Three batters in, the Astros took a 3-0 lead. Five batters after that, they led 4-0. And by the time the 13th hitter stepped to the plate, their lead had ballooned to 8-0. Jose Altuve crushed two home runs, a three-run shot on an 85-mph fastball in the first and a two-run shot on an 80-mph changeup in the second. Luis Valbuena added a solo homer, George Springer ripped a two-run single, and Lincecum suffered his shortest, non-injury-related start since June of last season.

"I wasn't putting balls where I needed to at all, from the first pitch," Lincecum said. "Anything that I was putting over the plate, it was a hittable pitch. It just made it hard to even get through that first inning without any scratches."

Lincecum's fastball was mostly 86-87 mph, slightly down from his season average of 89 mph, but Scioscia doesn't see velocity as an issue.

"He has enough life on his fastball," Scioscia said. "But he has to get it into better zones than we've seen."

Lincecum is still trying to work through his intricate delivery. He doesn't necessarily have a blueprint to work off, either, because he's 32 and coming off major hip surgery and still trying to figure out what works for him in this stage of his career.

He feels like he's "in Spring Training still," and the question is whether the Angels will even give him enough time to figure it all out.

"I'm not really worried," Lincecum said. "They've been really good with me, giving me what I need. I'm not worried about that. I'm still going to keep grinding it out. I have to find me."

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.