The former flame-throwing, right-handed ace has scuffled for a decent chunk of the past two and a half seasons, but the legend of Tim Lincecum is forever etched in San Francisco Giants history. The famed two-time Cy Young Award winner repeated a similarly impressive feat on Wednesday afternoon, tossing his second career no-hitter in a much-needed win for his squad vs. the San Diego Padres.
The Giants have been bad as of late, dropping 11 of their past 14 games before today to enable the division nemesis Los Angeles Dodgers to claw their way back into the NL West race. Giants starters had posted an ugly 5.63 ERA during that stretch of games.
AT&T Park took on a depressing funeral-like appeal in last night’s 7-2 loss, causing some to wonder if San Francisco was bound for another midsummer collapse in the wake of losing catalyst Angel Pagan to the DL. The Giants’ formula for defeat is all too familiar for die-hard fans, but none of that was relevant today.
Lincecum turned 30 years old just 10 days ago. He hasn’t posted a winning record since registering a 16-10 mark in 2010, the first season in which the Giants won a World Series title in San Francisco. He’s battled inconsistency ever since, struggling to find his control. Command was never a necessity during the first phase of Lincecum’s illustrious career, when he was able to pump 94-mph fastballs past hitters.
The eight-year veteran was amped-up in the ninth inning, touching 92 mph on the radar gun. That’s not the type of pitcher Lincecum has evolved into, however. His fastball averages 89.8 mph in 2014. The four-seamer accounts for just 32.2 percent of his pitches, a career-low. He’s learned how to effectively mix and match his complementary pitches, utilizing a changeup that averages 82.5 mph to keep hitters off balance.
His improved control of his slider enables him to hit the corners. His cutter features a sharp downward bite, forcing hitters to chop the ball into the infield grass.
Lincecum needed just 113 pitches to complete his second career no-hitter. He needed 148 throws to accomplish the same feat on Jul. 13, 2013 against a similar squad of Padres. He became just the second member of the Giants in the franchise’s iconic history to throw two no-hitters, matching Hall-of-Famer Christy Mathewson, who did so in 1905.
“The Freak” recorded just six strikeouts in no-hitting the Padres for the second time. He allowed one baserunner, a one-out walk to Chase Headley in the top of the second inning. This performance was vintage Timmy. It was also a desperately needed win for the Giants, who continue to struggle to score runs in June.
It was ultimately fitting for the final out of Lincecum’s triumph to be a groundout. That occurrence encompasses the rocky evolution of the greatest right-handed pitcher in the San Francisco era.
Lincecum forced himself back into the media limelight today, but isn’t as talked about as he used to be on a national level. After leading the NL in earned runs allowed in 2012 (107), it seemed like Lincecum’s best days as a starter were behind him. Giants executives exhibited a perplexing bill of confidence in dishing out a two-year deal worth $35 million to retain their former ace over the offseason.
It’s moments like this one that remind fans just how good Timmy can be. ”Happy Lincecum Day” was back in style on Wednesday.