Bochy on being no-hit: 'You hope this is as low as it gets'
Homer Bailey's final stat line: 9 IP, 0 R, 0 H, BB, 9 K, 109 pitches. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
CINCINNATI – There is no true retribution for the Reds. There is no erasing those three games here last October, when the Giants overran them like cockroaches and ruined the picnic of their season.
But on this summer night, nine months after getting drop-kicked out of the NL Division Series, they got a glimpse of how it could’ve played out – with a celebration on the mound, and a hero to carry off the field.
Homer Bailey was just as dominant against the Giants as he was in Game 3. This time, his team won. And Bailey authored history, too.
He became the 24th pitcher since 1919 to author a second no-hitter, joining a list of Hall of Fame heavies after pitching the Cincinnati Reds to a 3-0 victory over the Giants at Great American Ball Park Wednesday night.
Not only was Bailey’s no-hitter the first in the major leagues this season, but the previous one also belonged to him – a victory over the Pirates on Sept. 28 of last year. As you might remember, that was Bailey’s last regular-season start. And his follow-up effort was nearly as good, when he held the Giants to one hit and struck out 10 in seven innings in the NLDS.
The Giants found a way to win that game – Marco Scutaro had the only hit then, by the way – and then take the next two on their way to a World Series title.
There was no squeaking out this one, though. Bailey was perfect before issuing a leadoff walk to Gregor Blanco in the seventh inning.
He became the 16th pitcher to throw a no-hitter against the Giants, the 11th in the club’s San Francisco era, and the first since Kevin Millwood on April 27, 2003, at Philadelphia.
The list of pitchers to throw two no-hitters is an impressive one. It includes Nolan Ryan, Sandy Koufax, Bob Feller, Warren Spahn, Walter Johnson, Randy Johnson and Jim Bunning. And now Mr. Bailey.
Starting pitching report
It’ll be easy to overlook one of Tim Lincecum’s most impressive starts, stuff-wise, in not one season but two.
The sixth inning is becoming a thing for the Giants’ two-time Cy Young Award winner, however. A 1-0 game fell apart in the sixth, which has been his pitfall inning.
Over his last four starts, Lincecum has allowed a total of five runs over the first five innings (20 innings in all). But he’s allowed eight runs in the sixth.
For a time, the night was lining up just like Game 3. Bailey was dominating but the Giants were very much in the game. Lincecum gave up a run in an odd first inning that began with Shin-Soo Choo’s drive that would have been a home run if right fielder Hunter Pence hadn’t brought it back with his glove.
The ball bounced out of Pence’s glove and umpires signaled for a home run, but the crew overturned it after viewing the replay. Choo ended up with a double and Lincecum compounded his problems when he threw wide after fielding Zack Cozart’s sacrifice bunt. Joey Votto followed with a hard-hit sacrifice fly and Lincecum struck out Brandon Phillips to keep the inning from spinning away from him.
Then Lincecum struck out the side in the second inning, successfully burying two-strike sliders, curves and changeups – something he lamented not doing in his previous start at Dodger Stadium, when he gave up a career-high tying 10 hits.
Lincecum had eight strikeouts through five innings but Votto singled and Phillips hit a slider for a two-run home run to give the Reds a 3-0 lead.
Lincecum only recorded one more out before Bruce Bochy came for the baseball.
Jose Mijares stranded Lincecum’s runner in the sixth. Jeremy Affeldt pitched around a single and a wild pitch in the seventh. Sandy Rosario handled the eighth, with everyone fidgeting for the top of the next inning.
At the plate
Here is the list of pitchers to no-hit the Giants in the club’s San Francisco era: Warren Spahn, Sandy Koufax, Ray Washburn, Jerry Reuss, Charlie Lea, Mike Scott, Terry Mulholland, Kevin Gross, Kevin Brown, Kevin Millwood and now Homer “Don’t Call Me Kevin” Bailey.
The Giants entered having scored just 24 runs over their last 11 games. Blanco was 0 for 13. Brandon Crawford was 0 for 18. Pablo Sandoval had one hit in his last 22 at-bats.
They were the right team at the right time to face the wrong pitcher. Or something like that.
Blanco showed bunt in the seventh to draw boos, then came groans when the walk came on a 3-2 pitch. It was the end of the perfect game, and it was just the fourth three-ball count Bailey had on the night.
Blanco moved up on Scutaro’s ground out, then came the closest call of the night. Buster Posey followed with a weak grounder to the right side that first baseman Joey Votto fielded. Votto, noting that Bailey had failed to break to cover first base, acted quickly and threw to third base to catch Blanco in a brief rundown. Because an out was recorded, it was a fielder’s choice and not a hit.
It might have been the second time that Blanco saved a no-hitter, counting his dramatic catch to rescue Matt Cain’s perfect game last year. No doubt, it was a baserunning blunder this time, given the score.
Bailey followed by striking out Sandoval on 97 mph gas after the third baseman had laid off two close pitches away.
In the ninth, Crawford hit a chopper up the middle that Bailey leaped to snare. Pinch hitter Tony Abreu struck out. Then Blanco, towing an 0 for 15, got down 0-2 and grounded out, third to first.
The Reds mobbed the field, doused Bailey with several coolers full of something cold and celebrated like they haven’t since … his last no-hitter.
Let’s shorten down that list a bit. Here are the pitchers who have thrown more than one complete-game no-hitter since 1919, with one of them coming against the San Francisco Giants: Warren Spahn, Sandy Koufax and Homer Bailey.
Good defense is always fun to watch, even from the side getting no-hit. Posey matched quick thinking with quick reflexes in the fifth inning, when he pounced on Bailey’s bunt in front of the plate before it could spin foul. He tagged Bailey as he stood in the batter’s box, then threw to second base for a double play on Ryan Hanigan.
The Giants were only in position for a double play because center fielder Gregor Blanco did a tremendous job to cut off Hanigan’s drive and hold him to a single.
The Reds announced 27,509 paid. They got their money’s worth. Makes up for getting just six innings of baseball a night earlier, huh?
The Giants and Reds continue their four-game series at Great American Ball Park on Wednesday. Barry Zito (4-6, 4.53) tries for his first road win of the season. He’ll take on rookie left-hander Tony Cingrani (3-0, 3.42), who took Johnny Cueto’s place in the rotation. First pitch is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. PDT.