Tim Lincecum made history on Wednesday, becoming just the second player in Giants history to throw two no-hitters as he blanked the San Diego Padres 4-0.
The offense didn’t provide much support, but it was enough for Lincecum. With one out in the second Brandon Crawford crushed his eighth triple of the year over the head of Will Venable in center field. The three-bagger tied him for the most in MLB with Dee Gordon and Alex Rios. He also only had eight total career triples before 2014. Hector Sanchez got the Giants on the board with a sacrifice fly and gave them the first lead they’ve had all series. San Francisco is now 33-10 when scoring first.
They added a run in the third when Lincecum singled to lead off, Buster Posey hit a two-out single to left, and Pablo Sandoval followed it up with a double also to left to score Lincecum. The Giants right hander helped his own cause again in the seventh when he, once again, led off with a single. Hunter Pence followed it up with a one-out single and both runners scored on a double by Posey. Posey finished the day with four hits, bringing his average for the month of June up to .366 and for the season .291.
But the day was about Lincecum, who was impressive from start to finish.
“Just an incredible performance,” Bruce Bochy said. “He had such a great focus and really was an artist out there today I thought. He pitched very efficiently, had all his pitches working, hitting his spots. And I’m not just saying this, earlier in the game I said, ‘he’s got a chance to throw a no-hitter here.’ Just the way he was locked in and had everything working for him. And the club really needed it.”
It was quite a difference from his last no-hitter, which also came against the Padres on July 13, 2013. For that feat, Lincecum needed 148 pitches as he walked four and struck out 13. On Wednesday, he was much more economical, needing just 113 pitches to go the distance, striking out six. A lone walk to Chase Headley in the second inning was all that separated him from a perfect game.
“I’ve always been that guy that’s just kinda gonna go for the strikeout. In my first no-hitter…I think I was going for those a little bit more often, and today I just tried to be a little bit more efficient and take what they were gonna give me, and they were giving me a lot of groundballs and a lot of pop flies. So I was just going to try to keep attacking in the way that I was and just not fall from that mentally.”
Focus has often been an issue for the right-hander over the last few seasons, and he’s been prone to big innings. On Wednesday, he was relaxed from the first pitch. And superstitions be damned, Lincecum could be found laughing and joking with his teammates in the dugout throughout the game. The final groundout went to rookie Joe Panik at second base, and as Will Venable was thrown out, Lincecum’s teammates surrounded him with hugs. The first one to greet him on the mound? Hector Sanchez, who was celebrating catching his first no-hitter.
“It’s amazing. Everybody wants to be a part of something special like this, and that’s a great feeling. During the game, you don’t want to think about it, but after that it’s probably the best feeling in the world, after we won the World Series.”
Surprisingly, Lincecum was most impressed with his offensive abilities on Wednesday, starting two rallies with two singles and working a four-pitch walk in the eighth. He alone out-hit the Padres.
“Regardless of what they did, I think it’s cool that I had two hits anyway because up until today I only had one, and a pretty piss-poor batting average. So, I got that thing above .100, and I’m feeling a lot better about it. And I even worked a four-pitch walk in that last at-bat, so that felt pretty special.”
Whether on the mound or at the plate, it was Lincecum’s day. Bochy hopes it’s just the beginning.
“It was the Tim Lincecum show…If you look at Timmy, he’s changed how he pitches over the early years. I mean, he’s a different guy. And I think it’s been a battle for him at times to make that transformation or transition to what he is now. Sometimes less is more, and that’s what I think, if anything, hopefully he learned today. Because when you have a fastball that moves like that, you’re throwing 90-91, a good slider, a curveball, a change-up…you’re gonna have a lot of success.”
With his second no-no, Lincecum joined an elite group as one of just four active players with multiple no-hitters (Justin Verlander, Homer Bailey, and Mark Buerhle). He also became just the second pitcher in MLB history to throw more than one no-hitter against the same team (Addie Joss did it against the Chicago White Sox in 1908 and 1910), and joins Christy Mathewson as the only other Giants to throw two.
“Anytime your name is alongside any of the Giants greats that have come through and put on this uniform, it’s always a blessing. It’s always pretty cool to be able to make that comparison yourself. I know everybody else is, but just to be alongside in that company, it kind of allows me a chance to pat myself on the back a little bit.”
Go ahead, Timmy. You’ve earned it.