FREAK SHOW: Lincecum no-hits Padres
Giants starter throws 15th no-no in franchise history
SAN DIEGO -- The destiny that always has seemed within Tim Lincecum's reach finally settled into his grasp Saturday night.
Lincecum, who built his reputation as one of the most untouchable pitchers in the Major Leagues, turned his fame into history by pitching his first no-hitter, a 9-0 blanking of the San Diego Padres before 40,342 Petco Park witnesses.
In typical Lincecum fashion, he employed the strikeout as a primary weapon. The diminutive right-hander struck out 13. He needed some defensive assistance to preserve his gem as the innings wore on, and he received it as Hunter Pence lunged to make a diving catch of Alexi Amarista's sinking line drive for the final out of the eighth inning. He finished his historic night by striking out Chase Headley to start the ninth, getting Carlos Quentin to fly out to left and inducing another flyout to left on his 148th pitch to get Yonder Alonso for the final out.
Lincecum etched the 15th no-hitter by a Giant into the record books, preceded by Matt Cain's perfect game on June 13, 2012, against Houston. Four walks -- one in the first inning, a pair in the sixth and one more in the eighth -- were all that marrred Lincecum's performance.
Entering Saturday's game with an 11-5 record, a 2.34 ERA and a .206 opponents' batting average against the Padres, Lincecum should have felt comfortable against his opposition. But the groove he settled into was one that he had rarely found in this erratic season.
It was the Giants' second no-hitter against San Diego. Jonathan Sanchez, Lincecum's former colleague in San Francisco's starting rotation, stifled the Padres at AT&T Park on July 10, 2009.
Lincecum showed hints of lapsing in the seventh, though he began the inning by claiming Yonder Alonso as his 11th strikeout victim. Jedd Gyorko, the next batter, hit a skyscraping fly ball that left fielder Gregor Blanco caught just in front of the warning track.
Will Venable followed by smacking a sharp grounder that third baseman Pablo Sandoval backhanded behind the bag before making a strong throw to first base for the inning-ending out.
With one out to go in the sixth, Lincecum already had struck out 10, marking the 34th time in his career he had reached double digits. Every Padres hitter except Quentin had gone down on strikes.
Lincecum didn't record his first strikeout until Venable, the seventh hitter he faced, went down swinging. Then it was like trying to stop a river. Lincecum proceeded to strike out six consecutive Padres, matching a career best he reached on June 23, 2011, against Minnesota. For emphasis, each of those victims went down swinging.
Lincecum continued to hold the Padres spellbound through the seventh while striking out at least one batter per inning. Quentin snapped Lincecum's six-strikeout streak with a grounder to third, but Alonso went down looking to end the fourth.
Lincecum also fanned Jedd Gyorko to start the fifth and Logan Forsythe to open the sixth.
Through it all, the closest semblances to a hit the Padres mustered were Alonso's loud fly ball to medium-deep center field leading off the second inning and Quentin's line drive to shortstop that concluded the sixth.
Pitching from the stretch position is a task that has challenged Lincecum this season. But he recovered after each of the first three walks he issued, retiring the next hitter on every occasion.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.