Giants

Five things from Tim Lincecum's first no-hitter you might not remember

Five things from Tim Lincecum's first no-hitter you might not remember

Programming note: Watch the re-air of Tim Lincecum's first no-hitter against the Padres tonight at 8 p.m. PT on NBC Sports Bay Area.

When you think back to the 2013 Giants, you might remember the phrase "rock bottom." The reigning champs had a rough May and a long losing streak at the end of June, and when they got no-hit by Homer Bailey on the second night of July, Bruce Bochy threw his hands up in the visiting clubhouse and sighed. 

"Hopefully this is rock bottom," he said quietly that night. "You hope this is as low as it gets."

That was not the low point for a team that would finish 10 games under .500. Most of the rest of the season was a struggle, but Tim Lincecum did provide a bright spot a few days after Bailey's no-hitter. Lincecum had been the opposing pitcher that night in Cincinnati, and two starts later he threw an astounding 148 pitches while no-hitting the Padres. 

It was the first of two no-hitters for Lincecum, who became the first pitcher in 107 years to be on the losing end of a no-no and then throw the sport's next one. 

He also joined a remarkable list that night. Lincecum, Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax and Jim Palmer are the only pitchers in MLB history with two Cy Youngs, two World Series titles and a no-hitter. 

That game will air tonight at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area. You surely remember the 148 pitches, and you likely remember Hunter Pence's saving catch. But here are some things you might have forgotten about a special night at what was then jokingly known as AT&T Park South ... 

No ice! 

Lincecum was simply different, and he never iced his arm as he was growing up and later establishing himself as one of the world's best pitchers. He didn't do it after 148 pitches, either. 

"Nope, no ice," Lincecum said the next morning. "Not even in the drinks I didn't have last night."

Lincecum had a muted celebration, watching movies with his girlfriend and hanging out with their two dogs. He also called his dad, Chris, who molded him into one of the most unique pitchers the game has seen. 

The pitch count was a big deal the night of the no-hitter and again the next day. But Lincecum insisted that he felt fine. Bruce Bochy still had a request, though.

"I said, one time can you ice it?" Bochy said the next day. "But he feels great."

Buster Hugs

This was when Buster Hugs really became a big deal. The day after Lincecum's first no-hitter, Giants fans started passing along an awesome graphic created by a fan named Jeremy Sasson. 

That's an image you've probably seen a lot over the past seven years, but it wasn't as much of a talking point before Posey's awesome reaction to Lincecum getting that 27th out. That still might be the best Buster Hug. 

Part of the reason why that moment was so special was because of the dumb and constant speculation that Lincecum and Posey had some sort of feud. It ramped up because Lincecum, in his later years, was so often caught by Posey's backup. With his fastball diminished, Lincecum relied heavily on a slider and changeup that could lead to a long day for opposing hitters, but also the catcher who was constantly blocking balls in the dirt. 

Bochy preferred that the beating be taken by the backup when possible, not his best hitter. Lincecum referenced that whole situation when he met with reporters the next morning. 

A strange time for the roster

Remember the Jeff Francoeur Era? It officially started that day. Francoeur had been released by the Royals and signed by the Giants a few days earlier, and he was officially activated before Lincecum's no-hitter. Check out this incredible series of roster moves:

Francoeur would make his Giants debut the day after the no-hitter, but he hit just .194 for them and was released in late August. Chris Heston, of course, worked his way back and got his own Buster Hug. 

The old Freak

Lincecum had been an All-Star the first four full seasons of his career, but he took a sharp downturn in 2012, posting a 5.18 ERA. The next year was better, but still not anywhere close to the standard he had set and would never return to. Lincecum had a 4.37 ERA in 2013 but he looked a lot like his old self for a stretch leading up to the no-hitter. 

Lincecum had started to study hitters more closely and mix up his repertoire, and during an eight-start stretch from the start of June through that no-hitter, he had a 3.16 ERA. Opponents hit just .225 off him and he struck out 57 batters in those 51 1/3 innings. Against the Padres, he had a career-high 29 swings and misses. 

Lincecum had nine days off after the no-hitter because of the All-Star break. He gave up eight runs in his first start of the second half. 

A nervous reliever

When Matt Cain threw his perfect game in 2012, right-hander Shane Loux warmed up in the batting cage so Cain wouldn't see him. There's nowhere to hide at Petco Park, but rookie Jake Dunning did his best to stay out of Lincecum's field of vision as he twice warmed up in the bullpen beyond the wall in left-center. He said he wanted no part of that game. 

Dunning had been called up June 16 and saw two no-hitters in his first month in the big leagues.

"The guys keep telling me that it's not always like this," he joked after Lincecum's gem. 

Over the years, Bochy often referred to that 148-pitch night when asked about other massive workloads. He would joke, "I let Timmy throw 148 ..." but on that night, there was never any doubt that Lincecum would finish.

[RELATED: 'Different vibe' when season restarts]

"He wouldn't have talked to me the rest of the year if I took him out," Bochy said. "There was no chance."

Pitching coach Dave Righetti spoke to Lincecum before the final two innings but he insisted he was fine and feeling strong. Only one other pitcher had thrown more than 148 pitches in a no-hitter over the previous 25 seasons. It's something you'll never see again, but there were no regrets in 2013. 

"He's had to deal with a lot, so I couldn't be happier for him," Bochy said that night. "The pitch count put me in a tough spot, but you don't get these opportunities often. I let him go."

Bay Bridge Series between Giants, A's recently has been neck-and-neck

Bay Bridge Series between Giants, A's recently has been neck-and-neck

No matter how you feel about interleague play, it's hard to find much fault with the yearly home-and-home series between the Giants and A's. 

Fans from both sides pack the ballparks, particularly in Oakland. For years, when Oracle Park sold out every night, that was the best chance that Giants fans in the East Bay had of seeing their team up close, and it remains a much closer trip. There's a lot more media for those games, and I can say from personal experience that I've always loved having the opportunity to watch someone like Matt Chapman in person for three days. 

The games are generally good, too. Two of last year's four games were decided by a run, and a third game saw the Giants score five runs in the eighth to claw back, only to watch the A's pull away with two more in the top of the ninth. A year earlier, three of the six meetings were one-run games, including a pair of walk-offs. 

The Bay Bridge Series now includes an art show and a trophy, and it even gave us one of the best GIFs in franchise history:

The 2020 season was halted a couple of weeks before the Giants and A's were to return home for their yearly exhibition series that gets both sides ready for the season, and it's hard to tell what the plan will be when the sport returns. The original proposal from MLB called for the Giants to play just the NL West and AL West this season, so they expected to see a lot of the A's. If MLB decides to play just 50 games or so, that would drastically change the schedule, and perhaps the Giants would just play games within their division.

We don't know when the Bay Bridge Series will resume, but on NBC Sports Bay Area, a version will air tonight. We've been simulating the whole season and tonight's matchup is the Giants and the A's, with Kruk and Kuip on the call at 5 p.m. 

[RELATED: How 2019 Giants would've looked in shortened MLB season]

Hopefully it's a close game, and history tells us it will be. If you extend the sample beyond the two seasons mentioned above, you find a remarkably close back-and-forth. Since the A's swept the 1989 World Series, the two Bay Area franchises have squared off 124 times in the regular season, with Oakland holding a 64-60 edge. The A's have outscored the Giants by 14 total runs over the last 30 years. 

You might think the last decade would be different given the three titles and all the success the Giants have had, but it's been even closer in recent years. They've played 50 times since the start of 2010 and won 25 games each. The Giants have outscored the A's 225-224 in their interleague matchups over the past decade. It's a matchup that's as close as it gets, and hopefully it's one we're watching again soon. 

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Justin Viele explains what Giants hitting coaches are focused on

Justin Viele explains what Giants hitting coaches are focused on

Justin Viele was a shortstop at Santa Clara University as the Giants were taking over the even years, and he took advantage of his school's location. Viele and friends would hop on Caltrain a few times every year and head straight to Oracle Park, the home of his future employer. 

The ballpark will look different when Viele finally walks through as the co-hitting coach. The fences are coming in, a boost not just to the hitters but to the men -- Viele, Donnie Ecker and Dustin Lind -- tasked with getting the most out of them. That's not their focus, though. 

On this week's Giants Insider Podcast, Viele said the focus remains on what hitters can control. The ballpark is still going to heavily favor pitchers, and the new staff will continue to preach having a proper swing and controlling the strike zone. 

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

"If the ball doesn't carry but we hit it really hard, in the expected numbers that really looks good," he said. "It doesn't look good in the batting average, but the expected numbers look good because you're hitting the ball hard. That's really what we can control. Swing at the right pitches and hit the ball hard."

The hope is that a solid approach leads to more success over time, and even if the Giants get Oracle'd, they still hope to hammer teams offensively on the road. They were much improved last season, but over this three-year dip, they rank 23rd in runs scored away from home, 27th in road homers, and 28th in road wRC+. The new staff is trying to teach a better approach, and Viele summed it up neatly. 

"We like to break it up into three different bullet points," he said. "It's (first), how well are you moving. That's so many things. Some people say it's dancing with the pitcher, it's the timing, how you pick up your leg, how you move forward, all these different things. Do you have a big swipe act? Do you have a big jump forward? Are you controlled? All these different things, but ultimately it's how well are you moving. Can we make you move better?"

The second focus is on the bat and what it's doing as it comes through the zone. 

[RELATED: Justin Viele recalls Yaz calling his shot]

"How adjustable is your path, are you able to get on plane with multiple pitches," Viele said. 

Finally, what are you swinging at?

"How prepared are you to face that certain pitcher, how is he going to attack you and how are you going to beat him. How is he going to win," Viele said. "It's understanding those three things: How well you're moving, the bat path, and then the game-planning portion of it."