DETROIT -- There's a scene in "Bull Durham" in which veteran catcher Crash Davis tells his wild-armed pitcher: "Don't think. It can only hurt the ballclub."
With Tim Lincecum this postseason, the line has an echo of truth.
Among the benefits of the Giants sending the struggling right-hander to the bullpen this October is that it cut down Lincecum's thinking time. And with his brain switched off, the talent flickered back on.
"He doesn't have time to think about his delivery or anything," manager Bruce Bochy said Sunday before Game 4 of the World Series, which the Giants won 4-3 to complete a sweep. "It doesn't take him that long to get ready, so it's not like he has a lot of time to think about it."
And, boy, did his not thinking ever help the ballclub: The results of his five playoff relief outings: 1-0, an 0.69 ERA, three hits allowed and 17 strikeouts in 13 innings. Those numbers look especially absurd in light of the regular season that preceded it: 10-15 with a 5.18 ERA and a career-high 90 walks.
As bad as the game days were, the four days in-between, conspiracy theories and "What's Wrong with Timmy?" questions echoed over the airwaves.
Now? Lincecum simply hears the jingle of the bullpen phone and goes to work.
"We did discuss that this might help him, not having all night to think about, 'Hey, I'm pitching tomorrow,' " Bochy said.
In his latest outing, Game 3 on Saturday night, Lincecum breezed through 21/3 scoreless innings and served as the bridge between starter Ryan Vogelsong and closer Sergio Romo in a 2-0 victory.
Lincecum's velocity touched 93 mph on the stadium radar gun -- a rarity a month or so ago -- and his changeup was a butterfly again. Prince Fielder and Andy Dirks both struck out swinging at off-speed stuff in the dirt.
"He has grown so much through what he's done and he realizes, again, how good he is," Bochy said. "It's nice to see him throwing the ball the way he is at the end here.
"Hopefully, he can carry that through the winter and into spring training. That's what Timmy should carry with him."
Lincecum's first two World Series appearances both lasted exactly 21/3 innings (and exactly 32 pitches): The combined line: 0 runs, 0 hits, 8 strikeouts and 1 walk.
He faced 16 batters, allowing only a walk and one other base runner on an error by Brandon Crawford.
Lincecum has no desire to become a reliever full-time -- and the Giants have no plans to move him there -- but in the playoffs, the bullpen feels like his natural habitat.
"It's pretty fun," Lincecum said Saturday night. "We've got a great group of guys on this team. So as focused as we are on the game, we still mess around down there.
"That adds a little bit of entertainment while you're just sitting waiting for your name to get called. And the second that happens, you're just riding on straight adrenaline."