They say life is a circle, with no beginning or ending, and that what goes around comes around. Lately life for San Francisco Giants ace Tim Lincecum has been more like a roller coaster, and he has struggled mightily against the dying of the light that is his amazing career.
After winning back-to-back NL Cy Young award in 2008 and 2009, and a dominating 2010 Championship season, Tim had a few struggles in 2011. Although a few of those struggles were not his fault, he received the least run support of any pitcher in the major leagues and even had 10 games with no runs scored. Lincecum became one of six pitchers in modern major league history to have 200 strike outs, an ERA of 2.75 or better, and a losing record (13-14).
His real struggles began in 2012, which he finished 10-15 with an abysmal 5.18 ERA. Everyone could see it, he just seemed off and it kept going from bad to worse. When the post season came around Tim wasn’t starting. Tim, who led the Giants franchise in post season victories, was sitting in the bullpen. However, from the bullpen he did amazing things and it looked like a spark of his old self might be returning, and so, in relief, Timmy helped the Giants win their second World Series title in three years.
When this season started there wasn’t a Giants fan in the world that didn’t want to see the old Freak take the mound once more and start to dominate. Unfortunately that was not the case, and the struggles of 2012 carried over into the 2013 season. With a decidedly un-Lincecum like ERA of 4.26 and a 4-9 record Tim seemed like he might be doomed to make a move to the bullpen once more.
But the say life is a circle, and what goes around comes around. Last night, in front of a Petco Park crowd of 40,342, it came around and it came around hard.
The Freak found a rhythm, and for the first time since the 2010 World Series, he truly looked like the Freak we all know. He dominated hitters, fanning a season high 13, the most of any Giant since Matt Cain’s perfecto in 2012. He definitely had his moments, walking four and even hitting one batter, but the magic was there and after a fantastic grab by Hunter Pence to end the eighth inning, so was the electricity.
Timmy had thrown 138 pitches by the end of that eighth inning, matching a career high, but there was no question as to whether or not he would finish that game. Manager Bruce Bochy told reporters after the game, “He wouldn’t have talked to me the rest of the year, if I’d have taken him out.”
So Lincecum took the mound in the ninth inning, chasing something that the two-time Cy Young winner and World Series champion had never achieved. He achieved it in 10 pitches. With a fly ball to left field, Tim Licecum completed his first career no-hitter and the Giants first no-no since Matt Cain’s perfect game 13 months ago.
Is the Freak back? Time will only tell. But for one magical night in San Diego, it sure looked like it.