SAN FRANCISCO – The seventh-inning stretch had come and gone, Tim Lincecum hadn’t given up a hit, and there he stood.
In the Giants dugout. Talking with Tim Hudson. Running his fingers through his hair and laughing out loud.
To hell with superstition. Lincecum was getting all the “crappy contact” he had dreamed about, and the result was another historic night in his pantheon of pitching performances.
Eighteen days short of the one-year anniversary of his no-hitter against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park, Lincecum did it again. He held the Padres to just a walk, struck out six and threw the 16th no-hitter in Giants history in a 4-0 victory Wednesday afternoon.
Lincecum became just the second major league pitcher, and the first in more than 100 years, to no-hit the same team twice in his career. Addie Joss, who pitched for Cleveland so long ago the franchise was called the Naps, no-hit the Chicago White Sox in 1908 and ’10.
Lincecum also joined Christy Mathewson (in 1901 and ’05) as the only pitchers in Giants history to throw two no-hitters.
But other than the pitcher and opponent, there was so little in common between Wednesday afternoon and that July 13 game last season at Petco Park. Lincecum pitched on a different mound this time, threw to a different catcher, Hector Sanchez, and the bullpen was a much quieter place.
The last time, Manager Bruce Bochy chewed fingernails as he let Lincecum throw 148 pitches. The right-hander struck out 13, walked four and had the bullpen busy in the sixth inning.
This time, Lincecum threw just 113 pitches (73 strikes), allowed one baserunner – and didn’t even require a bid-saving catch from anyone, including Hunter Pence in right field.
He was quiet, he was under control – and the Padres kept making crappy contact. It was everything Lincecum aspired to do this season.
With Lincecum the past two years and Matt Cain’s perfect game against the Houston Astros in 2012, the Giants became the first team to receive a no-hitter in three consecutive seasons since 1973-75, when Nolan Ryan fired one each year for the California Angels.
Lincecum has thrown two complete games since 2011. Both are no-hitters, both against the Padres.
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