Bruce Bochy and pitching coach Dave Righetti met privately with the starters on Tuesday and stressed how important it was that they stop pressing. They had a combined ERA of 5.05 in the month of June, and the Giants were staring down the barrel of 3-11 over their last 14 games, having watched the Dodgers whittle their deficit from 9.5 games down to 3 coming into today's game.
The Giants starters, Tim Hudson and Ryan Vogelsong in particular, probably were not going to continue to pitch as well as they had before that stretch. But conversely, Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum shouldn't be as bad either.
Lincecum came into this game having gone six frames and giving up 4 runs in his last start. He wasn't sharp in that game, and the Giants were in danger of being swept by the worst offense in baseball after surrendering 13 runs to them in two games while only scoring 2 of their own. The Giants desperately needed a quality start from Lincecum, and he gave them a memory that should last a lifetime.
Lincecum had electric stuff. For the most part, the Padres didn't hit anything too hard, and there weren't any diving catches or miraculous grabs to preserve his no-hitter. In fact, even Lincecum's walk to Chase Headley came on a pitch that wasn't too far out of the strike zone. His fastball didn't seem to touch much higher than 90 mph, and there were one or two over the plate that he got away with in the 8th and 9th inning. That being said, he was able to locate that fastball today, and when he can do that, the rest of his arsenal plays up. Timmy's struggles in recent years are likely a direct result of his inability to command and locate his fastball.
Today, he was masterful.
And as joyful as it was to watch him no-hit the Padres in San Diego last year - the Giants' home away from home - it was far more appropriate that he was able to celebrate such mastery at AT&T Park, amidst the very loyal fans that prompted GM Brian Sabean to resign Lincecum at the price he did despite the fact that it probably wasn't fiscally responsible to do so.
Tim Lincecum is now the only pitcher in the Giants' San Francisco era to throw two no-hitters. And unlike his previous no-hitter, where he needed 148 pitches, he was able to get all 27 outs with a reasonable 113 pitches.
So, now what?
The Dodgers seemed to get their act together right after Josh Beckett tossed his no-no a few weeks ago. They even took it to another level when Clayton Kershaw threw one too, all while the Giants continued their precipitous fall from grace. Perhaps now, the Giants will rally behind Lincecum and start playing a better brand of baseball. They're still 3 games ahead in the NL West, and it's not too late to put some distance between them and their division foes before the All-Star break. With the Cincinnati Reds (6-4 over their last 10 heading into tonight's game) on tap for a four game series, the Giants needed to find their mojo again.
When a team gets its mojo back, it usually has to start with one player.
And for Tim Lincecum, today was a magical as it gets.
On a personal note, running errands with my pregnant wife forced me to keep up with this game through various forms of media and multiple electronic devices. It was all worth it to capture my unborn child's first no-hitter moment!
- It wouldn't be fair to leave out Buster Posey's 4-4 day, especially since his 2-run double in the bottom of the 7th inning to give the Giants a 4 run lead probably help ease some of Lincecum's nerves.
- Tim Lincecum. Obviously.