SAN FRANCISCO -- Tim Lincecum vowed not throw a tantrum.
Instead, he threw strikes.
The two-time Cy Young Award winner delivered two scoreless innings of relief Sunday just hours after the Giants announced that their one-time ace would be relegated to the bullpen during their National League Series against the Cincinnati Reds.
Lincecum had been a candidate to start Game 3 in Cincinnati but the assignment instead went to Ryan Vogelsong,
"I'm not going to be the guy throwing a tantrum because I'm not getting what I want," Lincecum said Sunday, shortly after the news broke. "It's not about what you've done, it's about what you've done lately."
Linecum made the best of his diminished role during Sunday's Game 2. Summoned for the sixth inning with the Giants trailing 4-0, the mere sight of The Freak electrified what had been a humdrum sellout crowd.
It was awkward: Lincecum barely warmed up and television cameras caught him looking confused in the dugout before taking the field.
But once he was on the mound, he looked vaguely like the Lincecum of old. The right-hander hit 91 mph on the radar gun, threw 17 of his 25 pitches for strikes and allowed only one hit, a double to Brandon Phillips.
For the Giants, this was a relief in more ways than one. During the regular season, Lincecum went 10-15 and his 5.18 ERA was the highest of any qualifying National League starter. He led the N.L. in losses, runs allowed and wild
That's why he took his postseason demotion in stride.
"It's about earning it," Lincecum said.
Manager Bruce Bochy said that he chose Vogelsong largely on the strength of the right-hander's final three starts.
Still, it was difficult to break the news to Lincecum, a four-time All-Star. Such a move would have been unfathomable two years ago when The Freak was among the Giants' World Series heroes.
"It's not easy to tell a pitcher that's accomplished what he has, and we know what he's done for us,'' Bochy said. "But you have to look at what's happening today. ... Timmy understands that."
The tipoff came earlier in the day when Lincecum joined the rest of the relievers for some pregame running in the outfield.
The Giants have yet to name their Game 4 starter. Lincecum's outing, though brief, almost certainly rules him out. Bochy hinted Sunday that Barry Zito has the inside track. It's also possible that Game 1 starter Matt Cain could come back on short rest.
Bochy said he was holding off on a decision because Zito was among the pitchers who would be available out of the bullpen for Game 2.
"You saw what happened on (the Reds') side last night,'' Bochy said, referring to Cincinnati Game 1 starter Johnny Cueto, who lasted just eight pitches before leaving with back spasms. Cueto's injury resulted in Mat Latos, the Reds' scheduled Game 3 starter, pitching four innings of relief.
Vogelsong, at age 35, will be making his first career postseason appearance after going 14-9 with 3.37 ERA during the regular season. He had a mostly rocky August and September but was sharp over his final three outings.
In his final start, Oct. 3 against the Dodgers, Vogelsong allowed only an unearned run and struck out seven in five innings.
"His been on with his stuff and his command, and we like where he's at right now,'' Bochy said. "We feel like he's the guy we should have out there."
The manager dismissed Vogelsong's late-season rough patch as a "hiccup" and praised his overall consistency. The right-hander ranked eighth in the N.L. with 22 quality starts this season.
Lincecum, in contrast, recorded only 13 quality starts.
He has one career relief appearance, but that was on a technicality. The Giants used Merkin Valdez to start a game on April 2, 2008, because they knew a rain delay was imminent.
When the weather cleared, Lincecum took the mound. Now, it's his postseason outlook that's cloudy.
Bochy said the one-time ace accepted his new role.
"He's all in on this. He was great, and he understands and says he wants to do whatever he can to help the ballclub move on,'' Bochy said.