July 13, 2013, 10 years ago today: In the midst of another mediocre season that almost had him banished to San Francisco’s bullpen, two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum spins the first no-hitter of his career in a 9-0 Giants win at San Diego. Lincecum struck out 13 batters, walked four, and threw a career-high 148 pitches. His gem was saved by a spectacular diving catch in right field by Hunter Pence in the bottom of the eighth inning. Star catcher Buster Posey lifted Lincecum high in the air when the final out was recorded, and the water buckets followed.
Lincecum, a two-time Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year at Washington, burst on the scene as a Giants rookie in 2007 after becoming the Huskies’ first first-round draft pick ever. He got everything out of his wiry frame by employing a wildly convoluted pitching motion. It made it difficult for batters to follow the ball. Lincecum then won the Cy Young in 2008 and 2009 and led the National League in strikeouts three straight seasons from 2008-10. Lincecum won two games for the Giants in the 2010 World Series. At one time he was described as the Bay Area’s most beloved sports figure since Joe Montana. But off-and-on struggles began in 2012.
“The Freak,” as he was known, tossed another no-hitter against the Padres in 2014, this one at home in San Francisco, but a degenerative condition in both hips had led to a fade in his skills. Lincecum became a free agent after that season and signed with the L.A. Angels in 2016. But he struggled, going 2-6 with a 9.16 ERA in Anaheim in what would be his final big league season. Lincecum tried to catch on with the Texas Rangers in 2017 but never made it out of Triple-A.
Lincecum remains an all-time Giants icon, though. He struck out 1,127 batters over his first five seasons. Only Tom Seaver struck out more in baseball history. Lincecum logged three World Series titles, the two Cy Youngs, the two no-hitters, and four All-Star appearances. The only other pitchers in major league history to have multiple marks in each category are Justin Verlander and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)