Tim Lincecum added to an already impressive resume Saturday night against the San Diego Padres by tossing the first no-hitter of his career. The Giants beat the Padres 9-0 thanks to the stellar performance of their two-time Cy Young Award winning pitcher just one day after everyone including the umpires were making a mess of the game.
Finding himself in uncharted territory, Lincecum recorded an out in the eighth inning for the first time this season, and ran his pitch count all the way to 148 before closing out the ninth for his first career no hitter.
Overcoming struggles that have plagued him for the better part of two seasons now, Lincecum said that “I’m kind of speechless right now,” in his post game interview. “I’m feeling pretty good, but I don’t think I’ve really taken in the whole idea of what just happened.”
Lincecum may have turned a corner by throwing a no-hitter against the Padres on Saturday. His struggles leading up to the game had actually seen the former ace demoted to stints in the bullpen. Last season was the worst of his career, posting a 10-15 record with a 5.18 ERA. Improving slightly, but nowhere near his previous standards, he is 5-9 with a 4.26 ERA this year.
Things looked so bad for Lincecum early on this season, bad enough that he told the USA Today that “hitters are looking at me right now as a real nice piece of meat to eat.”
Far from a nice piece of meat for batters tonight, Lincecum continually fooled anyone who stepped into the batter’s box on Saturday. Nearing 140 pitches following the eighth inning, manager Bruce Bochy made the decision to leave Lincecum in the lineup for the ninth because “He wouldn’t have talked to me the rest of the year, if I’d have taken him out.”
A free agent after this season, Lincecum’s no-hitter against the Padres certainly boosted his market value. Not many pitchers will boast the resume that he has, and last night shows that the Cy Young winning days are perhaps not completely in the past.
Striking out 13 on the night and not allowing a hit was impressive, but unlike many no-hitters he was not on the brink of a perfect game. Surrendering four walks and hitting another batter show that he may be un-hittable, but he still is working to get back the control he masterfully displayed earlier in his career.
Last nights no-hitter makes it two strong starts in a row for Lincecum, and two straight blow outs of the Padres for the Giants. Throwing seven innings against the Mets, he struck out 11 batters in that outing to push his strikeout total to 24 in his past two games. The Giants have won their last two games against the Padres by a score of 19-1.
When the final out was secured in the ninth inning, a familiar site for Giants fans took place. Buster Posey sprinted out to the pitchers mound from behind home plate in what is almost becoming cliche for the Giants. A team that is no stranger to great accomplishments, Posey has been sprinting to the mound to hug the pitcher quite often over the past few seasons. Tonight was one of those moments.
“It doesn’t get old,” Posey said after charging the mound following Lincecum’s first no-hitter. “I don’t think it ever will. I’m a fan of baseball. You try to soak up the moment as much as you can.”
San Francisco fans better hope the Giants give Posey a lot more reasons to sprint to the mound in the second half of the season. The team is an uncharacteristic 43-50 heading into the All-Star break this week.
Follow me on Twitter @CharlieGille
Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express