There was an outside chance for history tonight, as no one has thrown a back-to-back no-hitter in the majors since Johnny Vander Meer did it 75 years ago on June 11 and June 15—pitching for the Cincinnati Reds.
Maybe this would be San Francisco Giants’ Tim Lincecum’s date with history, fresh off his 148-pitch no-hitter last week against San Diego.
The Giants starter looked good warming up. But Lincecum’s very first pitch to Reds leadoff hitter Shin –Soo Choo was out of the zone. But Choo, a South Korean veteran who leads all Major League leadoff hitters in HRs (13) and on-base percentage (.426), forced Lincecum into a full-count that led to a double to left.
It didn’t get better. Lincecum struck out Reds star Joey Votto, but the first inning saw the visitors load the bases and get three runs on a Todd Frazier bases clearing double.
It was a 31 pitch first inning, and seemed like we were back to the pre-no-hit Lincecum.
Would the Giants come back?
Not before the Reds pounced for two more runs in the 2nd inning behind a lead off home run from catcher Devin Mesoraco. Pitcher Bronson Arroyo ground out. But then Choo came up for his second at bat and promptly hit his 14th home run to left.
Pre-game Choo, had his fans over on the visitors side, signing autographs. His HR put the Reds up 5-0.
And they weren’t done.
In the third, Jay Bruce added a homer to right center nearly 430 feet .
And then in the fourth, with Lincecum already at 72 pitches, the Reds All-Star Votto, finally got untracked with a single, putting runners on first and third with two outs. That was it for Lincecum, as Bochy came out. This wasn’t going to be a 148-pitch night for Lincecum.
George Kontos came in and gave up a double to Brandon Phillips and and two runs scored.
So on this night, the Lincecum line looked like this: 3 2/3 innings pitched, 9 hits, 8 runs, 8 earned, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, and three home runs.
He threw 78 pitches, 52 of them strikes, and faced 21 batters.
Entering the game, Lincecum lost nine of his last 12 decisions (with a 4.32 era). Overall, the Giants have lost 11 of his last 15 starts.
The no-hitter was a nice departure. And the back-to-back fantasy was just that, a nice fantasy.
But now we’re back to some hard cold reality.
The question marks about Lincecum have resurfaced.
Veteran journalist Emil Guillermo blogs about the Giants on his Linceblog, as well as the news of the day on his site, www.amok.com, and www.aaldef.org/blog (the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund) Twitter@emilamok, and @linceblog