It took a whopping 148 pitches, but Tim Lincecum recorded his first career no-hitter Saturday in the Giants’ 9-0 victory over the Padres.
It was the most pitches thrown in a game since Edwin Jackson got to 149 in his no-hitter for the Diamondbacks on June 25, 2010 and the second most since 2005. Lincecum’s previous career high was 138 pitches in a four-hit shutout, also against the Padres, back on Sept. 13, 2008.
Lincecum struck out 13, matching the second highest total of his career. His previous high was 15 in a complete game against the Pirates in 2009. It was his sixth career shutout.
With the Giants struggling of late — at least until they ran into the Padres — Lincecum’s name has been bandied about as a trade possibility of late. One wonders just how the huge pitch count will play into that. After Jackson threw his 149 pitches in 2010, he went five straight outings without turning in a quality start. Lincecum’s win tonight was his first in his last seven starts, though he did pitched better in June than he did the first two months of the season. The Giants also have the ability to give him plenty of rest after this one, what with the All-Star break set to begin.
But let’s not the pitch count overshadow the performance. Lincecum certainly wasn’t worried; he threw a 3-2 curve to walk Everth Cabrera on his 125th pitch of the night in the eighth. Alexi Amarista then came the closest of any Padre to getting a hit tonight; lining out to a sliding Hunter Pence in right field. It wasn’t only Lincecum’s first shutout in a long time, but it was his first complete game since May 21, 2011, when he pitched a three-hitter against the A’s. It had been almost exactly a year — since July 14, 2012 — that he had lasted more than seven innings in a start.
Lincecum is now 5-9 with a 4.26 ERA for the season. He’s tied for sixth in the NL with 125 strikeouts.
The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.
Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.
Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”
Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.
The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.