"The team needed this, particularly here at home," manager Bruce Bochy said after Lincecum's second career no-hitter carried the Giants to a 4-0 win over the Padres. "These things are hard to explain, how we've had our struggles here at home. After winning two in Arizona, you'd like to think you come home in front of your home crowd and get on a roll, and we got shut down. We needed this one."
After the Giants lost a fifth consecutive home game and their 11th out of 14th overall on Tuesday night, Bochy put the onus on his starting pitching. His scuffling starting rotation began the team's slide; the pitchers would have to regain their previously successful ways for the team to return to its winning ways.
Lincecum throwing a no-hitter less than 24 hours later wasn't quite the recovery Bochy had envisioned, but it's certainly mission accomplished.
"The last thing we wanted to do was get swept again after getting swept by Colorado, so we needed a good pitching effort," Bochy said.
Prior to Lincecum's no-hitter, Giants starters had the second-highest ERA (5.05) of any staff in June and had been tagged for 72 earned runs in 128 1/3 innings in the month. Combined with the team's dip in hitting with runners in scoring position, the problematic pitching helped slash 6 1/2 games off the Giants' NL West lead in a 16-day span.
"To be a part of whatever we did to kick-start this and put it in the right direction, I'm glad to do it," Lincecum said.
Reasons for concern -- not panic, but legitimate concern -- were appearing throughout the clubhouse. Lincecum and fellow starters Matt Cain, Tim Hudson and Ryan Vogelsong have each struggled immensely in their past few starts. Catalyst Angel Pagan hasn't played in more than a week, and he was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday morning. The team's 2-8 record in its past 10 games prior to Wednesday came against four teams that are below .500. The Dodgers have gained ground and done so in a hurry.
"To get the no-hitter … this club needed something," Bochy reiterated. "We've gone through some tough times here, so this is good for the whole club, to have something this nice happen. Things like this can bring a club together."
Wednesday's historic victory can eventually be looked back upon as the day the Giants got back on track is their hope, at least.
"We'll see," outfielder Hunter Pence said when asked if this was a turning point for the season. "It's definitely a spark. I can't read the future and I have no idea what's going to happen in the future, but it's a feel-good [moment], it's uplifting and it's a lot of fun to be a part of."