Tim Lincecum no-hits the Padres for the second time in less than a year

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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:

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Yasiel Puig is still a free agent

Yasiel Puig
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Around this time last year, the ink was drying on Manny Machado‘s 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres and Bryce Harper was about to put the finishing touches on his 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies. We had gotten used to premier free agents hanging out in limbo until late February and even into March. This past offseason, however, was a return to normal. The top three free agents — Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg — all signed in December. Once the big names are off the board, the lesser free agents subsequently tend to find homes. There were a handful of noteworthy signings in January, but pretty much everyone was off the board when February began.

There are a handful of free agents remaining as I write this, with one name really sticking out: Yasiel Puig. Last season, between the Reds and Indians, Puig hit .267/.327/.458 with 24 home runs, 84 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases in 611 plate appearances. He was one of only seven players in the league last year to hit at least 24 home runs and swipe at least 19 bases. While Puig has had some problems over the years, he still possesses a rare blend of power and speed that would seem useful.

The Marlins, White Sox, and Rockies have been linked to Puig this offseason. His market has been otherwise quiet since he became a free agent. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden suggests Puig will have to settle for a “pillow contract” — a one-year deal with which Puig reestablishes his market value, aiming to pursue a multi-year deal the following offseason. Along with the aforementioned three teams, Bowden suggests the Mariners, Indians, Pirates, Giants, Red Sox, and Cardinals as other teams that could potentially fit with Puig, which is not to be confused with teams having expressed interest in his services.