Lincecum became the first pitcher to record a save and pitch a no-hitter in the same season since Matt Garza pulled off the combo for the Rays in 2010. It was the fifth time the feat has been accomplished since 1976 (Garza 2010, Chris Bosio 1993, Jerry Reuss 1980, John Candelaria 1976), according to Elias.
This wasn't Lincecum's first regular-season relief appearance in the big leagues. That occurred April 2, 2008, at Los Angeles. But it almost was more like a start because manager Bruce Bochy held him back until the threat of a rainstorm had passed. Lincecum worked four innings that night.
This time, Lincecum performed the full bullpen act. He moved from the dugout to the 'pen, beyond right-center field at Citizens Bank Park, in the 13th inning. The mere sight of him warming up to enter the game conjured memories of Game 6 of the 2010 National League Championship Series, when the right-hander faced three batters and retired one in the eighth inning of the clincher here against the Phillies. Lincecum himself admitted having flashbacks to that night.
Lincecum entered the game with runners on second and third, one out and the Giants leading, 9-5, in the 14th, having scored four runs in their half of the inning. Cody Asche, the first batter Lincecum faced, tapped a weak groundout to second base that enabled a run to score. Lincecum walked Cameron Rupp to bring the tying run to the plate, but Domonic Brown, who flied out to deep left field with two on and two out in the 12th, grounded out meekly to first baseman Buster Posey, who fed Lincecum for the final out.
"I was trying to do my best to control my emotions," said Lincecum, who allowed one earned run in 13 innings spanning five relief appearances in the 2012 postseason.
Lincecum almost didn't get his chance to preserve Tuesday's triumph. It was his day to throw between starts. But Bochy and acting pitching coach Mark Gardner, mindful that the bullpen logged six innings in Monday's series opener, consulted Lincecum. They agreed that he should delay his bullpen session for a day just in case he might be needed in relief. As it turned out, Lincecum threw 21 pitches and will make his scheduled start in Friday night's series opener against the Dodgers.
As Tuesday's game stretched into Wednesday, Bochy approached Tyler Colvin. The left-handed-throwing left fielder would have replaced George Kontos, the Giants' last reliever, had the score remained tied.
Said Bochy, "I talked to Colvin and asked him if he had pitched before. He mentioned high school."
Colvin savored the moment that never happened.
"I was ready," he said with a laugh.
So was Lincecum.