It was on a Saturday night on this date five years ago that Tim Lincecum threw the first no-hitter of his career. It was the 15th in Giants’ history and 7th of the San Francisco era, but most importantly, it was the only accomplishment The Freak still needed to cross off his career performance list.
He’d always had the stuff to blank teams every fifth day. Not only did Lincecum pitch 7 shutouts in 270 regular season starts, he also pitched at least 6 innings and allowed 2 runs or fewer 120 other times. One of those included a sequel to his 2013 no-hitter, this time against the Padres at AT&T Park. And these amazing numbers don’t include the greatest playoff start we’ll likely ever see in our lifetimes, his Game 1 NLDS vs. the Braves.
But, all that’s for another post. In the meantime, here’s an almost 6-minute recap of the game itself:
I remember very clearly where I was when this happened because I was tasked with writing the recap that night. Here’s what I had to say about it:
You see, Tim Lincecum’s career is at a crossroads. Is he going to be a terrible starter, a dominant reliever, or simply out of baseball two years from now? Do the Giants trade him to the Tigers as a reliever, does he sign with a team as a back-end starter in free agency this off season, or does he retire to the Pot Hills of Estonia? This is what we thought about when the subject of Tim Lincecum came up. He went from Freak to bleak in what seemed like no time at all. My very first post-game recap was of his disastrous first start of the year in Colorado last season. Everything has pointed to an ending for him, either in San Francisco or baseball in general.
Not very good, right? I went on to talk about how this could be a turning point for him. Well, I was quite wrong. He gave up 8 runs in 3.2 innings the following start in an 11-0 loss to Cincinnati at home. A lot of that could be chalked up to the record number of pitches he threw in the no-hitter. Bochy was confident that if anyone could recover from that workload, it would be Tim Lincecum.
The career-high 148 pitches in this no hitter didn’t really impact him beyond the following start. His career trajectory was already on the downward slope, despite my recap’s thoughts to the contrary. The rest of Tim Lincecum’s Giants career was a 4.54 ERA in 313.1 innings pitched with a 1.39 WHIP, including 37 HR allowed. He never got close to a 100 ERA+ again, including both no-hitter seasons, and he’s washed out with two teams since.
As sad as that was, nothing was sadder than my incorrect framing of the event as some sort of renaissance. Grant, of course, saved the day with his 50 Awesome Things About Tim Lincecum’s No-Hitter post:
4. It was the first no-hitter at Petco Park It was like the christening of a ship, where you break a champagne bottle on its bow. Except it was Tim Lincecum’s big ol’ changeup wang instead of a champagne bottle. I’m not sure what that means, but you just watched it.
Man. Grant is so good. He should accept a huge pay and prestige cut and come back.
But back to the night in question. I was at a birthday party. Specifically, friend of the site and beloved tweet generator Bill Hanstock’s birthday party at a Buffalo Wild Wings somewhere east of Los Angeles. I went to the party because there would be wings and beer while the game was on. Bill’s a Giants fan, so we were gonna watch it and hang out.
I wound up rushing to the parking lot to write it in my car on my very nice (for the time) Android phone. I remember Grant texting me in the 7th or 8th inning — “you got this”. The moral of this story is to never schedule a game recap confident that you can write it up from wherever you are because Baseball will make you pay.
For one night in July, we had our Timmy back, and it was everything we could’ve hoped.