Tim Lincecum was having a miserable June, with an ERA over 6.00 in four starts. It looked worse than that. Then, when the Giants badly needed a win to salvage a miserable stretch of baseballing, Lincecum threw one of the best games of his career.
The thing about this game, you see, was that Tim Lincecum didn't allow any hits.
This is a tradition around here, an unlikely tradition. When a Giants pitcher throws a no-hitter or perfect game, the goal is to find 50 factlets or tidbits about the no-hitter that are awesome, though we'll settle for "neat" when in a pinch.
1. That's as good as Tim Lincecum can pitch
Not as good as he's ever been able to pitch -- that contest is over -- but as good as he can pitch right now. He had command of four pitches, with just enough fastball to keep the hitters off-balance. It didn't give us hope that a new old Lincecum is inevitable, but at least it gave us hope that it's possible.
2. Jon Miller's call
3. Duane Kuiper's call
4. Javier Lopez
At about 1:05 in the above video, Javier Lopez leans back and says, "AWWWW, SHIT" before going in for the handshake. Then he puts his hand on Lincecum's head because he's taller than him.
5. Brandon Belt
Then 10 seconds later, Brandon Belt uses his left hand to thump Lincecum on the back vigorously. Soon.
6. This angle
7. The game was in doubt
With the other no-hitters in the AT&T era, the game was put away early. This one was still in the two-walks-and-a-dinger sphere of terror.
And, goodness, how I was terrified. With every 1-0 count, big swing, and first batter of an inning, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. There was no way he was going to do it again, right? There was no way the Giants were actually going to win, either. They were setting us up to punish our hubris.
The close game made it so much better. It's like Lincecum ratcheted up the defiance-o-meter with every scoreless Giants inning.
My five-year-old daughter was watching the last few outs with me, and she kept calling the Padres "the Dodgers." I didn't correct her.
9. Tim Lincecum's post-game press conference
Not all of it. Just the part where someone asked him how he was going to celebrate, and he responded with ...
I'm going to go to my house and ... maybe drink a little bit.
Funny. That's how I'm celebrating it.
10. Tim Lincecum had a burgonet on his head after the game
11. Dale Thayer mustache-shamed Tim Lincecum, and Lincecum didn't care
This is Dale Thayer:
This is Tim Lincecum:
Lincecum watched Thayer pitch with that mustache and made subconscious wanking motions because he wasn't intimidated. I respect that. Because I'm still intimidated.
12. No great plays
There wasn't a Pence or a Blanco. There was a hard-hit ball to Morse, and there was a deep fly to center, but there wasn't anything that took your breath away for more than a split-second.
13. The face Lincecum makes when Hector Sanchez is about to bearhug him
It was a look of terror.
14.The Powerade bath was so cold, it made Lincecum disappear completely
"This is great, and I want to talk about it, Amy, but I'm a take these frozen clothes off, give me a second."
15. Matt Cain was the dingus who Powerade-bathed him
Wait, but Matt Cain was the guy who got Buster Posey protection after his perfect game:
And now Matt Cain's job is carrying the vat of the steel-blue stomach acid around and playing God with it?
Yeah, that's cool. Lincecum did allow a walk, after all.
16. Tim Lincecum changed out of his jersey into a USMNT jersey
Because USA USA USA. You suck, Germany. Thanks for all the ... friendship and support over the past few decades. But it ends here, and Lincecum knows it.
17. This was the first game that Adam Duvall watched from a dugout
I can't say for certain, but there's a small chance I've been in a major-league dugout more than Duvall has. There was a ballpark tour, then my last employer held their yearly kickoff at the park in '06 or '07, and when I did a "hit" or a "spot" on the MLB Network, that's where I'd keep my computer. I think I've been in the dugout four or five times.
Duvall was never in the mix for the final cut, so I don't think he came back to San Francisco for the final series. There might have been some other chances for him to be in a dugout that I'm not thinking about.
Whatever. Welcome to the majors and, oh, here's a no-hitter. This happens all the time.
18. Bruce Bochy toasting Lincecum in the clubhouse
no video of this, but and it's good. Everyone has a plastic cup filled with 110-proof moonshine (I'm guessing), and Bochy is holding court and congratulating Lincecum on a job well done. It's a peek behind the curtain that we don't always see, and kudos to CSN Bay Area for getting it.
19. Fewer pitches thrown
113 is less than 148. There shall be no pitch-count nannying for this no-hitter.
20. The Dodgers had to watch
At least, Andre Ethier did. I can't stand that guy.
The Royals' face-jumbotron still freaks me out.
21. All four pitches
I linked to the 2010 NLDS game against the Braves up there, in which Lincecum dominated behind a slider, mostly. It was like the Braves were a rounders team from 1848 who had never seen a devil's pitch up close.
In this game, there was variety. Lincecum needed all four pitches, and he had them whenever he wanted.
22. A non-ridiculous strike zone
Adam Hamari was on point. Lincecum might have gotten a couple calls over the nine innings, but nothing egregious. There is no controversy.
23. 92 mph in the ninth inning
24. Tim Lincecum wasn't superstitious
Everyone in the dugout was trying to avoid him, but he wanted to screw around, like usual. Considering that people harass Vin Scully when he uses the term "no-hitter" in his job, I respect the player who doesn't give a damn.
25. Gregor Blanco blogged about it already:
There’s face-painting and wiffle ball and probably hula-hoops.
Well, sure there is.
26. It was at home
Obviously, these aren't in order of importance. If they were, this would be very, very high on the list.
I remember a Bruce Jenkins column from 2000 that read, roughly, "This place is perfect. All that it needs is the history." We're 14 years in, and this is the third no-hitter, which follows three pennants, two World Series titles, four division titles, a single-season home run record, and the all-time home run record. These aren't the 1977 Giants, playing on Astroturf, wondering if Toronto is a better fit.
There's been a century's worth of history jammed in the last 14 years. This just adds to it.
27. The Dodgers just had a no-hitter, and no one cares anymore
At least, I don't.
28. Here's what the Dodgers are doing for their fans tomorrow
Last Dodgers note, I promise. But this one tickled me. Here, Dodgers fans. This is what you get tomorrow. Look at this:
Let Dodgers fans look upon it and despair.
29. After waiting 31 years for a no-hitter ...
The Giants have four no-hitters in six years. I was obsessed with no-hitters growing up. Never happened. Now the Giants are sloughing them off like so much dandruff.
30. The no-hitter came in a particularly rough stretch
Translation: The Giants have stunk over the last two weeks. This helps. It might have felt just as good if it happened when the Giants were 49-2 in late May, but it's a welcome reprieve right now.
31. Crawford taking pictures with his family after the game, still in uniform
This is history. Take a picture.
Crawford's a Giants fan first, you know. He also hit another triple. This has nothing to do with the no-hitter, but, man, that guy has the triple-stroke going.
32. The clear and obvious momentum the Giants have right now.
Clear. And obvious. Don't let anyone tell you differently.
33. That he's doing it now, instead of back then
Doing it in his Cy Young years would have added to Lincecum's legend. Doing it in his post-ace years adds to his story.
34. Ian Kennedy bugs me
Can't put my finger on it. He's a diluted Mat Latos, with a mix of Giants dominance and general insouciance that is really, really off-putting.
He does like to hit Dodgers with baseballs, so I'm conflicted.
35. Posey, playing at first, went 4-for-4
Remember the Posey/Lincecum feud? Remember how obvious the loathing was when Posey ran out to the mound in San Diego, arms aloft, to smother his pitcher?
In this game, Posey charged in from first and awkwardly tried to pull Lincecum's head to his bosom after reaching the pile. I'll allow it.
36. Joe Panik made the final putout
This is, what, his fifth game in the majors? The last out of a no-hitter came to him, and he didn't, well... you know
37. Chase Headley
Chase Headley has been a part of three no-hitters in his eight-year career. All of them have been Giants no-hitters.
38. Chase Headley, part II
He moved to .199 on the season with this game. This no-hitter put him back under the Mendoza Line. This is funnier now, rather than next year, when he's the starting third baseman here.
39. The Padres have never had a no-hitter
Which is weird, considering no-hitters aren't that rare. They're only about as rare as a cycle, which, whooops, guess the Padres have never had one of those, either. So odd.
40. It's been 100 years since a pitcher no-hit the same team twice
That would be Hall of Famer Addie Joss, who no-hit the White Sox twice before World War I.
My only regret is that it wasn't the Dodgers. This is a fine runner-up, though.
41. Tim Lincecum was on base three times and scored two runs
Everyone wondered if Lincecum running around on the bases would be a bad thing. Nope. He probably didn't even notice he was running.
True fact: The Giants are undefeated in games in which Lincecum gets more hits than he allows.
41. The Kruk & Kuip pregame show on KNBR
They talked about how much fun Lincecum was to watch, and how they never got tired of watching him pitch. I rolled my eyes a bit. They were right.
Even when he's not pitching well, remember that he's like nothing we've ever seen before. The delivery was enough to scare other teams away, which is why the Rockies drafted Greg Reynolds.
42. This picture
43. This picture
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
44. This picture
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
45. This picture
46. This pitcher
47. This pitch
And the subsequent hop.
48. Hector Sanchez
I'm perfectly in the middle of the fanboy/critic diagram with Sanchez, more angry with the Giants for thinking the once-in-five schedule was good for his development. But he did great, and I'm thrilled for him. We always focus on the pitchers for obvious reasons, but it has to be really, really satisfying for a catcher to call one of these things. Especially one who's been under the microscope like Sanchez.
49. We're not talking about the Giants trading Tim Lincecum next week
We talking about it after the last one, you know.
50. Tim Lincecum is still on the Giants.
The Giants might have overpaid. If there were the benefit of hindsight, maybe the Giants have Phil Hughes or something. But there was a reason for the nostalgia, a reason why fans and front office alike were freaked out about Lincecum leaving. What if he had done this for the Dodgers? Heck, what if he had done this for the Twins. How bittersweet would that have been?
That's no way to run a baseball team. Still, it feels pretty sensible right now. Tim Lincecum threw his second no-hitter in the last calendar year. Rejoice. He's been responsible for more good Giants baseball than almost any player in franchise history. Celebrate him.