Lincecum Strikes Out 10, Giants Overpower Rockies
Lincecum, the two-time Cy Young Award winner who led the Giants to the World Series title six months ago, took a no-hitter into the seventh inning at Coors Field and San Francisco routed the Colorado Rockies 8-1.
Spotted an early eight-run cushion thanks to homers by Pat Burrell, Nate Schierholtz and Freddy Sanchez, Lincecum cruised through Colorado’s lineup, dominating baseball’s best team over the season’s first 2 ½ weeks until Carlos Gonzalez broke up his no-hit bid with a clean single in the seventh.
Lincecum (2-1) allowed one run and three hits over 7 2-3 spectacular innings. He walked three, struck out 10 and allowed just four balls out of the infield, none in the first six innings.
This was the first visit to Coors Field by the Giants since they made a stink about the humidor protocol prior to a key series last September—before the Rockies faded from the playoff race and the Giants went on to win their first World Series championship since moving West in 1958.
The Rockies entered the night with a 12-3 mark and a four-game lead over San Francisco in the NL West, but right-hander Esmil Rogers (2-1) allowed eight runs and six hits over three innings in just the second loss by a Rockies starter this season.
Lincecum was shooting for the 14th no-hitter in franchise history and the first since Jonathan Sanchez handcuffed the San Diego Padres on July 10, 2009, which snapped a 32-year Giants drought.
The only no-hitter at Coors Field was thrown by Hideo Nomo of the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sept. 17, 1996.
With one out in the seventh, Gonzalez grounded a sharp single to right for the first hit off Lincecum, who had benefited from some nice defensive plays by second baseman Freddy Sanchez, including a diving stop of Gonzalez’s hard grounder in the first.
Lincecum didn’t allow a ball to the outfield until Jonathan Herrera led off the seventh with a fly to deep right. By then, the ball wasn’t carrying and it settled into Schierholtz’s glove.
Todd Helton’s double down the right-field line with two outs drove home Gonzalez.
Ryan Vogelsong got the final four outs for San Francisco.
Last fall, the commissioner’s office changed how baseballs are removed from the Coors Field humidor and monitored during games after Giants general manager Brian Sabean expressed his concerns to MLB vice president of operations Joe Garagiola Jr.
During that final homestand, the umpires became directly involved in taking balls from the humidor and placing them in full view during the game. Before that, the Rockies had a team employee handle the baseballs, and that led to a lot of grousing by opponents that some livelier, non-humidor baseballs were being put into play when the Rockies were batting, giving them an unfair advantage.
Although there was no proof of any such shenanigans, MLB changed the protocol one day after Lincecum, during the sixth inning of a stellar performance, was caught on camera uttering expletives after being given a new ball following a pitch to Miguel Olivo: “Juiced ball,” Lincecum said. “This is (expletive).”
This season, Major League Baseball went a step further, adding an authenticator who watches as baseballs are removed from the humidor by an umpire room attendant. The authenticator, who is employed by MLB, follows the attendant to the umpire’s room, where the baseballs are rubbed down, and accompanies the attendant as the balls are placed in the Rockies’ dugout.
During games, the authenticator sits in the photo well to the right of the Rockies’ dugout with the bag of balls in sight.
“What humidor comments?” Colorado catcher Chris Iannetta retorted when asked before the game if the club holds any grudge with the Giants over the matter. “I completely forgot about it until you told me about it. So, no.”
The rivalry is spicy enough without any humidor hyperbole.
“I know a couple of their guys pretty good, including Lincecum,” Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said. “We think it’s pretty comical.”
The Rockies found nothing to laugh about Monday night, when the Giants spotted Lincecum a five-run lead in the first inning as Burrell (his fifth) and Schierholtz (his first) hit back-to-back homers.
Burrell, who came in with a .336 batting average at Coors Field with 10 homers and 36 RBIs, sent a 2-1 offering into the left-field tunnel for a three-run shot that made it 4-0.
Schierholtz followed with a shot to right that was just the 31st homer hit into the third deck at Denver’s downtown ballpark and the third by a Giants player. The other two were off the bat of Barry Bonds.
Clayton Mortensen, recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs before the game, replaced Rogers to start the fourth and did his best impersonation of Lincecum, retiring his first 11 batters and throwing six scoreless innings. He allowed two hits with two walks and a strikeout.
NOTES: Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez (cut thumb cuticle) comes off the 15-day disabled list to start the second game of the series Tuesday night against Matt Cain (2-0, 1.42 ERA). … OF Cody Ross might rejoin the Giants on Tuesday from a rehab assignment with Triple-A Fresno. Ross strained his right calf during the final week of spring training.
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