Giants go for power in outfield, but get blanked by Reds Luis Castillo

Giants go for power in outfield, but get blanked by Reds Luis Castillo

SAN FRANCISCO -- It wasn't long ago, just a couple of weeks, that Bruce Bochy was regularly answering questions about his outfield defense, which he felt was perhaps the best he had experienced in San Francisco. Friday's lineup was a different story, as the Giants opted for power in the corners. 

With Kevin Pillar in need of a day off, Bochy moved Mac Williamson from left field to right and stuck Tyler Austin in left for the fourth time. On paper, it made a ton of sense. Austin hit two homers Thursday and Williamson hit a three-run bomb on Tuesday. 

But the tradeoff proved costly. Austin dropped a fly ball with one out in the second, kickstarting a four-run rally off Dereck Rodriguez, who allowed just the four unearned runs in five innings. The Giants lost 7-0 in familiar home performance

"He doesn't have a lot of experience out there," Bochy said. "You've got a guy swinging the bat the way he is, you're trying to find time for him. But hey, we'll get some work out there for him. It's going to get better."

Before the game, Bochy said he was comfortable with the alignment that in theory should have juiced the lineup. On this night it didn't, though, as Austin and Williamson combined to go 0-for-8 with five strikeouts. 

"Occasionally I will do this to keep them all involved," Bochy said of the new look. 

Austin, primarily a first baseman and DH before last month's trade, was supposed to be a regular in left but his development has been stalled by unforeseen factors. Elbow pain kept him from doing regular outfield work for several weeks, and the weather has not cooperated in recent days. 

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The Giants certainly can afford to keep experimenting. Their performance Friday was a reminder that they're a different team at home, one in need of an offensive jolt. After scoring 49 runs on a six-game road trip, they managed just four hits. Luis Castillo, a prospect the Giants once dealt for Casey McGehee -- yikes -- struck out 11 in six innings, getting 24 swinging strikes. 

As the Giants work to add punch to the lineup, they may be without a big bat for the rest of the Reds series. Brandon Belt has an inflamed right knee and will get an MRI, although the Giants are optimistic he'll miss just a day or two. 

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."

Why Mauricio Dubon envisions 'different vibe' upon Giants' return

Why Mauricio Dubon envisions 'different vibe' upon Giants' return

When Willie Mays arrived at Scottsdale Stadium last month, Mauricio Dubon walked over to say hello. Mays remembered Dubon from a meeting late last season, and he greeted him with, "It's the kid that smiles."

Dubon always has had an appreciation for playing the game and it shows every time he takes the field. He is the kid that smiles, and that got ramped up two years ago when baseball was taken away for the first time. 

Dubon missed most of the 2018 season after tearing his ACL in May. He said he had a greater appreciation for his career when he returned, and he thinks fans will see that from players across the big leagues when the coronavirus pandemic hiatus ends. 

"It's going to have a different vibe," Dubon said on the latest episode of The Giants Insider Podcast. "Players are going to be more appreciative knowing that, hey, one day this can be taken away. That's kind of what happened to me. I never take games for granted, but I was always -- not complaining, but I was always like, 'Oh, we're playing 11 a.m. games (in the minors).'

"And the next thing you know, I wish every game of the season was 11 a.m."

Dubon was Milwaukee's No. 10 prospect entering the 2018 season and got off to such a quick start that a promotion to the big leagues looked imminent. He hit .343 in his first 27 games with a slugging percentage of .574 and four homers.

Dubon had a 23-game hitting streak when he hurt his left knee during a rundown on May 5. His season was over. Dubon said he has been reminding family members during this current shutdown that he has had a similar experience. The Giants had an off day when MLB suspended spring training and players were soon told to head home indefinitely. 

[RELATED: How Dubon stays ready after missing Opening Day]

"I'm trying to emulate those feelings, everything is going to be fine," Dubon said. "Everything is going to work out. It's not going to stop. There's more to life than baseball, so we're just going to take it day to day."

For more from Dubon on what the last few weeks have been like, how he's communicating with teammates and coaches, his rookie season and learning to play the outfield, you can listen to The Giants Insider Podcast here or download it on iTunes here.