Given the accolades that come with throwing a no-hitter at the the big league level, managers face a lot of pressure when a pitcher has a no-no going but is also working on a high pitch count. If that pitcher is, say, one or two innings away from writing his name into history, can the manager afford to take him out of the game? Even if he has thrown 115 pitches or whatever the mark might be?
When it gets late in the game it creates a tough situation for managers. But if a pitcher approaches 100 pitches in the 5th inning of a no-hit outing? That’s a bit easier.
Such was the situation for San Francisco Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy on Wednesday afternoon. Starting pitcher Tim Lincecum surrended no hits through five innings. Problem was, he had also issued four walks and thrown 96 pitches. With his spot coming up in the order, Bochy pulled him.
Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area looks into the rationale for the decision:
“With his spot due up third in the fifth, a scoreless game, and 96 concentrated pitches on his ledger, Lincecum departed for a pinch hitter. It might have been a tougher call for Bochy had Lincecum not already thrown a no-hitter (on 148 pitches) last July at San Diego.”
With that, Lincecum stakes his claim to an odd bit of history. Otherwise there is no harm done; it’s not as if anybody, even the most fervent Lincecum fan, would expect him to close out a no-no at that pace.
If nothing else, this start was emblematic of the problem with Lincecum this season. He has been up and down but rarely pitches beyond the 6th inning. If the Giants are going to hold off the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West, they will ultimately need efficiency from the former Cy Young award winner.