SAN DIEGO (AP) — Tim Lincecum walked into the San Francisco Giants’ clubhouse late Sunday morning and, yes, his right arm was still attached to his body.
That was no small matter, considering that Lincecum threw 148 pitches in his first career no-hitter Saturday night.
The Freak, indeed.
While he was still trying to put his no-hitter into perspective, Lincecum said his arm was OK after his incredible effort in the San Francisco Giants’ 9-0 victory against the last-place San Diego Padres.
“I haven’t played catch yet but right now I feel good,” he said, sitting in the dugout an hour before the defending World Series champion Giants tried for a four-game sweep.
Lincecum looks different now that he’s cut his long hair, and he doesn’t throw quite as hard as he used to. One thing hasn’t changed, though. Lincecum has never iced his arm after starts, including his 148-pitch performance.
It turns out there was no ice of any kind Saturday night.
“Not even in the drinks that I didn’t have last night,” he said with a laugh.
“I said to him, ‘One time, can you ice it?’” manager Bruce Bochy recalled.
Lincecum, a two-time NL Cy Young Award winner, said he had a low-key celebration. He spoke by phone with his father and spent time with his girlfriend and his two dogs. He said he didn’t get to sleep until around 3:30 a.m.
“I woke up today, so I’m good,” he said.
Lincecum said his family and friends “get more excited than I do just because it’s hard for me to kind of realize and take in what’s going on.”
“It kind of goes back to what my dad tells me: ‘Don’t get too excited about the good stuff and don’t get too down about the bad stuff,’” he added. “I’m trying to hover in the middle, and it could be the plague of me right now. I’m not really finding a way to enjoy this, I guess. But being able to share it with my family and friends was the best part.”
There was still a buzz in the Giants’ clubhouse, where 12 hours earlier Lincecum was doused with champagne.
“Timmy!” one teammate hollered when Lincecum walked in, wearing a beanie and glasses. Another Giants player gave the slightly built pitcher grief about the fanny pack he was wearing.
“It’s momentum. It’s exciting,” said right fielder Hunter Pence, whose sensational diving catch of Alexi Amarista’s sinking liner in the eighth inning preserved the no-no.
Pitching coach Dave Righetti — who threw a no-hitter for the New York Yankees on July 4, 1983, a year before Lincecum was born — said the Freak’s pitch count became an issue in the sixth inning.
“The only way he was staying in was if he didn’t give up a hit,” Righetti said.
“He wanted it. You could tell. He was definitely in his zone, so to speak,” Righetti said.
“It goes without saying how badly a guy wants it when it’s going like that,” Lincecum said. “You just hope they give you a leash to do so and you do so with the slack that you’re given. I think it just turns into an internal focus and you try to take advantage of the pitches you have left and you know that every pitch that you throw is that much more worrisome, I’m pretty sure.”
Bochy said he was impressed with how Lincecum got locked in when he had thrown about 100 pitches.
“Sure, that’s a lot of pitches, but there’s days when a guy gets in a groove, he’s not putting a lot of effort in it and you let the dog run. … There’s no way I could have taken that kid out,” Bochy said. “First of all, he probably wouldn’t have talked to me the rest of the season. But he was still going strong.”
Lincecum struck out 13, walked four and hit a batter.
He struggled this year and last, although he’s also been plagued this season by poor run support.
Lincecum’s no-hitter for the Giants follows Jonathan Sanchez’s no-no in 2009 — also against the Padres — and Matt Cain’s perfect game last year.
Righetti recalled that early in Lincecum’s career, his stuff was so good that it wasn’t uncommon to think, “Uh oh, this is the day.”
“I don’t know that he’d say this publicly, I think he maybe felt his time was past,” Righetti said. “I knew he watched Jonathan get his, and then Cain, and you know he’s thinking about it.
“For him to get it, I had tears in my eyes. I know what he’s been through, back and forth, and being the guy, and people picking him apart. I’m proud of him. I told him that the last game — the way he’s been handling it all, and the way he’s gone through this wave that every guy’s got to go through.”
Lincecum’s no-hitter — the first in Petco Park’s 10-year history — was popular well beyond the pro-Giants crowd in San Diego.
Lincecum is from Seattle and pitched for the University of Washington. During a pitching change during the Angels-Mariners game at Safeco Field, the ninth inning of the Giants-Padres game was shown on the video board, until there were two strikes on the last batter, Yonder Alonso.
Josh Hamilton then stepped into the batter’s box and the other game was taken off the board, drawing boos from the crowd. Hamilton had a long at-bat and word began trickling through the crowd that Lincecum had finished the no-no.
Before the next batter, the final out of Lincecum’s no-hitter was shown, and the crowd cheered.
AP Sports Writer Tim Booth in Seattle contributed to this report.