For the second time in less than a year, Tim Lincecum has no-hit the San Diego Padres.
Unlike his effort last July 13, however, this one was an efficient, nothing-but-business affair. Whereas The Freak needed 148 pitches for last year’s effort, he did it in a mere 113 this afternoon, showing total command over all four of his pitches and never giving the Padres a chance in hell to do any damage. San Diego managed one walk — Chase Headley drew it in the second inning — but were otherwise kept off the basepaths. Heck, Lincecum himself had a way better offensive game than his opponents did: he walked once and had two hits.
Lincecum cruised from beginning to end. He needed only 26 pitches in the eighth and ninth innings combined, inducing weak grounders and striking guys out for the most part. Trying to make something happen, the Padres sent up two pinch hitters to start the ninth inning, Chris Donorfia in place of eight hitter Rene River and Yasmani Grandal in the pitcher’s slot. Donorfia struck out and was thrown out at first when Hector Sanchez couldn’t handle strike three. Grandal took the count full but then bounced one back harmlessly to Lincecum who underhanded it to Buster Posey at first for the second out. That brought up Will Venable he took it to 1-2 and then grounded out harmlessly to second. And with that Lincecum had his second career no-hitter.
It’s been a pretty rocky few years for Lincecum. While his Giants won the World Series, 2012 was the worst year of his career, leading the NL in losses and posting an ERA well over 5. After last year’s no-hitter he was shelled pretty frequently and ended the season with a 10-14 record and a 4.37 ERA. Coming in to today, Lincecum was 5-5 with a 4.90 ERA and was allowing more baserunners per inning than he ever had in his major league career.
But whether it is muscle memory from his days of being the NL’s best pitcher, the poor offense of today’s competition or some combination of both, today Lincecum was untouchable.
The final out:
In a show of good sportsmanship, the Cleveland Cavaliers have moved their championship ring ceremony start time back to 7 PM EDT to avoid conflicting with the start of the World Series opener on Tuesday. The Indians are set to host Game 1 at Progressive Field on October 25, while the Cavs will open the 2016-17 NBA season against the New York Knicks at the nearby Quicken Loans Arena, preceded by a ceremony recognizing their first franchise title.
In the event that the Indians clinch a World Series title, it’ll be the first time Cleveland has seen two championships in the same calendar year since 1948, when the Indians’ last Series title came on the back of the Cleveland Browns’ All-American Football Conference championship against the Buffalo Bills. The same was true for the Dodgers in 1988, when their World Series win against the Athletics coincided with the Los Angeles Lakers’ 11th championship, while Chicago has yet to see a multi-title year among their NBA, NHL, NFL, and MLB franchises.
Regardless of the Series’ outcome, Cleveland fans will get the chance to revel in one long-awaited championship win on Tuesday before watching the beginning of a nail-biting conclusion to another long-awaited playoff run. The Cavaliers are scheduled for 7 PM EDT on October 25, while the Indians will take the field at 8 PM EDT.
If any team can turn a six-day rest period into an advantage, it’s the Indians. The club polished off their pennant race with another injured starter and an overtaxed bullpen, as Trevor Bauer exited in Game 3 of the ALCS with a laceration on his right pinky finger, leaving the bullpen to shoulder 16 innings through the last three games of the series. On Friday, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reported that injured starter Danny Salazar could rejoin the rotation in the World Series, though he’ll need at least one more simulated game before Terry Francona determines whether or not he’s fit to return for the team’s last postseason push.
Bauer, who has been under the close watch of hand specialist Dr. Thomas Graham, told the press that he feels confident that he’ll be ready for a World Series start when the final showdown commences on Tuesday. Keeping the wound bandaged is not an option during games, and Bauer said that Dr. Graham decided against additional stitches to keep the laceration from re-opening. Instead, they’re banking on extra days of rest to heal the cut naturally. Should Francona pencil the right-hander into the lineup for Game 3 or 4, he’ll have had 10-11 days to rest his finger between starts — just a hair under the seven games Bauer said he was prepared to pitch.
Salazar, too, has been preparing for a World Series showdown. He’s scheduled to pitch three innings of a simulated game this weekend, and if it goes well, it could land him a spot in the starting rotation alongside Bauer, Corey Kluber, Josh Tomlin, and newcomer Ryan Merritt. Salazar has been sidelined since September 9 with a right forearm strain, and even after undergoing a rigorous throwing program over the last several weeks, any kind of comeback is expected to be curbed by a strict innings limit. Francona has been understandably tight-lipped about his World Series roster, but he hasn’t yet nixed the idea of utilizing Salazar out of the rotation, provided the right-hander remains healthy for another week or so.
The Indians have had to remain flexible throughout their seven-game playoff run after weathering injuries to Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer, pushing their rotation through several games on short rest and relying heavily on Andrew Miller and Cody Allen‘s one-two punch in the ‘pen to clinch more than a few postseason victories. While history doesn’t always favor the first team to secure their league’s pennant race, an extra week of rest should only benefit Cleveland’s beleaguered pitching staff.