Tim Lincecum’s no-hit bid falls short
July 10, 2009
SAN FRANCISCO – Tim Lincecum had a tough time summing up his successful first half when a disappointing finish to his final start before the break was still so fresh.
“That leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, of course,” he said.
Lincecum carried a no-hit bid into the seventh inning and won his fourth straight start, baffling San Diego with his nasty changeup and a curveball nearly as impressive in the San Francisco Giants’ 9-3 victory over the Padres on Thursday night.
Lincecum (10-2) walked Evereth Cabrera to start the game and then Will Venable with two outs in the second. After that, he retired 13 straight and struck out the side in order in the sixth. Tony Gwynn Jr. broke up the bid when he singled to left leading off the seventh on Lincecum’s 82nd pitch.
“We definitely didn’t want to get no-hit,” Gwynn said.
Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Kouzmanoff followed with singles and Lincecum’s night was done after consecutive two-out walks to load the bases. He left to a standing ovation, but was clearly frustrated in how quickly it turned.
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“Things are cruising along there fine,” he said. “You have got to make better pitches. I got too deep on guys, showing too many pitches. I didn’t stay aggressive enough or focused enough and kind of let it slip away.”
Sergio Romo replaced the reigning NL Cy Young winner and immediately walked pinch-hitter Edgar Gonzalez to force home a run.
Lincecum’s scoreless innings streak ended at 29, third-longest in San Francisco history. Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry pitched 40 straight scoreless innings in 1967 and then went 39 in a row in 1970.
“He’s legitimately one of the best pitchers in all of baseball right now,” Padres manager Bud Black said. “We finally got to him in the seventh inning, but you could see why he puts up the numbers he does. He’s got a great array of pitches and he seems to be expanding those and continuing to grow as a major league pitcher. He’s been on a nice roll lately.”
Bengie Molina hit a two-run homer in the first to stake Lincecum to an early lead. Travis Ishikawa and Juan Uribe added back-to-back solo shots in the team’s four-run fifth, the first time this season the Giants have hit consecutive homers. Lincecum followed with a single to left.
Pablo Sandoval, kept off the final NL All-Star roster earlier Thursday, had a two-run double in the fifth that chased San Diego starter Josh Geer (1-4). Uribe, Randy Winn and Nate Schierholtz each added RBI singles in the eighth.
This was the last start for Lincecum before the All-Star game, where he will certainly be considered by NL skipper Charlie Manuel to start for the National League.
San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy planned to call Manuel soon to inquire about how Lincecum and Matt Cain might be used. Lincecum was an All-Star last season but missed the game with an illness that required hospitalization for dehydration.
The shaggy-haired right-hander allowed three runs and three hits, struck out eight and matched his season high with four walks.
“Four walks used to feel like me. Now four walks doesn’t feel like me,” Lincecum said.
This performance wasn’t that surprising considering he’s been more dominant in recent weeks than even during his spectacular Cy Young season of 2008, his first full big league campaign.
“I think he could throw one,” Molina, the catcher, said of a no-hitter. “It could happen any time.”
Geer saw his winless stretch reach nine starts, going 0-3 since his lone victory May 23 against the Cubs.
Sandoval was beaten out for the last All-Star spot by Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino.
“I’m happy. It’s my first full year in the big leagues and I was on the All-Star ballot,” said Sandoval, acknowledging he voted for himself a bunch of times. “I got the numbers. I didn’t get the votes. I’m excited about the support from my teammates and the fans. I want to thank them.”
NOTES: Giants Barry Zito and Randy Johnson also took no-hit bids into the seventh this season and had them broken up by the first batter. … Lincecum walked the leadoff batter for the fourth time this year. The pitcher had his seventh hit of the year and 22nd of his career. … Of the 61 pitches Lincecum made through five innings, 16 of those were in two at-bats by former Giant Eliezer Alfonzo. … Giants CF Aaron Rowand was still sore from crashing into the wall Wednesday against Florida and was held out of the lineup. … The Padres were still undecided about their Saturday starter, with Black deciding between promoting RHP Tim Stauffer from Triple-A Portland or using either Luis Perdomo or Mike Ekstrom – both righties – from the bullpen.