Pablo Sandoval hit the one hundredth home run of his career, a two-run shot in the third inning, and the San Francisco Giants went on to defeat the St. Louis Cardinals, 5-0, at AT&T Park, as Tim Lincecum pitched the second-best encore to a no-hitter, in MLB history.
In his first start since his no-hitter last Wednesday, Tim Lincecum pitched brilliantly in allowing no runs on four hits, with two walks and six K’s over eight full innings. According to an article by Joey Nowak, from MLB.com, Lincecom’s performance tonight, would be the second best encore to a no-hitter in major league baseball history, Johnny Vander Meer’s back-to-back no-no’s in 1938 the only follow-up performance that was better than Lincecum’s. Ironically, only last week, Clayton Kershaw pitched eight innings giving up no runs on six hits, the outing following his own no-hitter.
The signature moment for Timmy came in the fourth inning, when he loaded the bases with no outs, and got out of it with two K’s and a groundout. The Giants followed that up with four consecutive base hits to lead off the bottom of the fourth, and never looked back.
Marco Gonzalez, making his second major league start for St. Louis, went four and a third innings, giving up five earned runs on seven hits, with four walks and two K’s. Seth Maness came in during the fifth inning, and got the Cards out of a bases-loaded, one-out situation with only an RBI-grounder by Hector Sanchez, which gave the Giants their fifth and final run of the game. Jason Motte pitched the seventh and Randy Choate finished off by pitching the bottom of the eighth.
After twelve extra base hits during the month of June, Buster Posey maintained the pace with a third-inning double which knocked in the first run of the game. It followed a Hunter Pence lead-off single, and brought Pablo to the plate to hit his memorable homer, extending the Giants’ lead to 3-0.
Sandoval added a single and a walk to his home run, and made a superb play on a Yadier Molina hot grounder, robbing him of a sure hit in the sixth. Hunter Pence went two for four with an RBI-double and scored twice.
Tim Lincecum provided fans with one of the more entertaining of his at-bats this year, going to a full-count and drawing eleven pitches, before grounding out to second base, all with two on and two outs in the fourth. After seeing Timmy get two hits and a walk last time out, it seemed possible that he might pull off a little magic with the bat, but he must be saving that for another game.
Lincecum had two seven-pitch innings and a six-pitch sixth, ending the night at 113 pitches, one more than his no-hitter last week. The eight scoreless innings extends his scoreless streak to seventeen innings, as he won his seventh game of the season.
After not fielding a ball until the seventh inning, Brandon Crawford made two very fine plays defensively, the second one in the ninth inning with a man aboard, to keep matters simple. Daniel Dalscalso flied out to end the game immediately afterward.
Besides the plays by Crawford and Sandoval, Hunter Pence made a sterling play to end the sixth on a drive into Triples Alley by Allen Craig. It followed the acrobatic play by Sandoval, and put an exclamation point on the evening’s well-rounded victory.
For it was a well-rounded win, almost perfect in every way, shape and form. It was lights-out pitching, solid hitting and superior defense on the first day of a new month, one not named June.
Most importantly, the Giants did it without their two injured stars, because that’s just the way they’re going to have to fly, especially if Angel Pagan’s return is further delayed.
For one night, anyway, we saw the mojo return and I’m not surprised it was Tim Lincecum leading the way. The guy just knows how to pitch. Let’s take it one game at a time, the oldest cliche in the book, and see if the Giants can’t regain some of that style and form we saw so much of earlier in the year.
This is as good of a time as ever to forget about June and give fans another month like May, where they went 19-9. July is about fireworks and we saw some tonight, especially down in Los Angeles where the Cleveland Indians had their own fireworks going. The Giants are now back in first place.
Great start-just keep the fuse burning.