San Diego Padres

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."

Bruce Bochy sent out all-time Hangover Lineup after Giants' 2012 clincher

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AP

Bruce Bochy sent out all-time Hangover Lineup after Giants' 2012 clincher

Programming Note: Watch the re-air of the Giants' 2012 NL West-clinching win vs. the San Diego Padres on Saturday at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area. 

At some point on Sept. 22, 2012, Bruce Bochy looked around a champagne-drenched clubhouse and asked himself a funny question: Which players in this room will be ready to take the field tomorrow at 1:05 p.m.?

One of the best parts of baseball is all the quirks you see during a 162-game season, and the Hangover Lineup is high on the list. The Giants have seen a few of them over the past decade, having made the postseason four times and also been in the other dugout multiple times as the Los Angeles Dodgers clinched. On the last road trip of 2017, they took advantage of "Hangover Lineups," twice beating teams that had clinched a night earlier. Those wins might have kept them from 100 losses. 

Bochy didn't have as many opportunities to script a Hangover Lineup as you might expect. The 2010 team clinched on the final day of the season and in 2014 the Giants and Pittsburgh Pirates were battling for home-field advantage in the Wild Card Game until the final day. Two years later, the final three teams in the Wild Card race were ultimately separated by one game.

But in 2012, the Giants won the NL West by eight games. They clinched with 10 to go, beating the San Diego Padres 8-4 in a game that will re-air on NBC Sports Bay Area at 4 p.m. on Saturday. The next day, the starters got to sit back, relax and chug Gatorade. Bochy sent out a hell of a Hangover Lineup:

Yusmeiro Petit, who would go on to be a postseason hero for the 2014 team, made his first appearance for the Giants this day, starting in place of Tim Lincecum, who had been sent home during Saturday night's game and couldn't get back to the ballpark for the celebration because there was so much traffic. 

This was the only start Joaquin Arias ever made in the No. 3 spot and it was the only time Xavier Nady hit cleanup for the Giants. Francisco Peguero, a powerful prospect, got his first big league hit -- an infield single. 

The Giants were off Monday and went back to their normal lineup Tuesday because Bochy said he didn't want guys coasting to the finish line. You know how that season ended, of course, and hopefully this lineup and game provide a fun time capsule.

[RELATED: Why Anderson, Duggar were optioned as Giants hit pause]

Here are some more tweets from clinch night to remind you of what was going on back then ...

Giants sign 17-year-old prospect compared to Padres' Fernando Tatis Jr.

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USATSI

Giants sign 17-year-old prospect compared to Padres' Fernando Tatis Jr.

The Giants saw firsthand what a young superstar looks like last season every time they faced the San Diego Padres. Fernando Tatis Jr. showcased all his skills from Day 1 against San Francisco. 

Tatis, only 20 years old at the time, singled off Madison Bumgarner on Opening Day last season in his first big league at-bat. The young shortstop went 2-for-3 that day in a 2-0 win over the Giants. Nearly one year later, the Giants signed a prospect who already is being compared to Tatis. 

The Giants signed 17-year-old Javier Alexander Francisco Estrella from the Dominican Republic. Twitter account @Giantsprospects reported the news Monday night. MLB Insider Hector Gomez provided pictures of the signing on Tuesday morning. 

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Javier Alexander Francisco Estrella firma con los Gigantes de San Francisco. El talentoso campocorto @javieralexander2019, de 16 años, firmó con los Gigantes de San Francisco ¿El próximo Tatis Jr.? El béisbol es el deporte de las comparaciones y con frecuencia los fanáticos y analistas del juego suelen hacer el ejercicio con jugadores contemporáneos o de distintas épocas. Javier Alexander es un prospecto de 16 años, campocorto de 6’2’’ y 162 libras, que al igual que muchos jóvenes dominicanos, buscaba estampar su firma al profesionalismo el pasado Julio 2 del 2019. ¡Impresiona a todos! ¿Qué lo hace tan especial y similar a Fernando Tatis Jr.? Javier Alexander tiene una condición que lo hace especial para la mayoríade scouts que han tenido el chance de evaluarlo. Su increíble parecido en casi todos los aspectos del juego con el actual campocorto de los Padres de San Diego Fernando Tatis Jr. en el momento que Tatis esperaba ser firmado por alguna organización de MLB. Fernando Tatis, ex jugador de MLB, trabajó con Javier Francisco por más de un año y entiende que el parecido de ambos jugadores a la misma edad es impresionante. ‘’Hay mucha similitud entre ellos a la misma edad, Javier tiene un excelente desplazamiento, tremendo brazo, un swing fluido y limpio, golpea muy bien la pelota para todos los lados delterrenoy sabe jugar el juego. Esas son las condiciones que se necesitan para jugar una posición tan exigente como el campocorto y Javier las tiene. Como dirigente, ese es el tipo de jugador que me gusta’’, expresó. Dura realidad del sistema: Con una mirada firme, pero algo de amargura en el rostro, Tatis recuerda las dificultades que vivió mientras esperaba por la firma de su hijo Tatis Jr., puesto que apenas unos cuantos pudieron proyectar las herramientas del talentoso jugador que se ganó la titularidad en la posición número seis en el exigente béisbol de MLB con San Diego. ‘’No fue fácil, lo admito. Fue una gran prueba de paciencia para mí como padre y para toda nuestra familia. Hoy en día se busca un pelotero formado con 16 años y eso no es posible, ni aquí ni en ningún lugar del mundo", sostuvo con un dejo de impotencia.

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Fernando Tatis Sr., who played 11 years in the majors and is the father of the Padres' young star, worked with Francisco Estrella for over a year in the Dominican Republic. The former big leaguer saw the similarities between his son and the Giants' new prospect right away. 

"There is a lot of similarity between them at the same age," Tatis Sr. said to Gomez in June 2019. "Javier has an excellent displacement, tremendous arm, a fluid and clean swing -- he hits the ball very well from all sides and he knows how to play the game. Those are the conditions that are needed to play a position as demanding as the shortstop and Javier has them.

"As a manager, that's the type of player that I like." 

Francisco Estrella already is 6-foot-2 and 162 pounds. Video evidence shows how closely he resembles Tatis Jr. under the elder's coaching. 

This latest signing only adds to the Giants' improved farm system. MLB Pipeline and The Athletic's Keith Law both ranked San Francisco's farm system as the 10th best in baseball. Fellow teenage shortstop Marco Luciano is a big reason for the Giants' rise, too. 

[RELATED: Four Giants named to Keith Law's top 100 prospects]

Luciano, who the Giants signed in July 2018, was only 17 years old all of last season when he made his minor league debut. He opened eyes right away by hitting .322 with 10 home runs and a 1.055 OPS in 38 games with the AZL Giants Orange in the Arizona Rookie League before finishing the season for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes in Short-Season Class A. 

Between Francisco Estrella and Luciano, Giants fans can only hope for the next Tatis Jr. in San Francisco.

*Editor's note: The article originally listed Javier Alexander Francisco Estrella's age as 16 years old.