Bruce Bochy remembered stressing out while watching Tim Lincecum labor through the final innings of his 148-pitch no-hitter at San Diego last July. The Giants manager said there was “no chance” of stretching out his starter again Wednesday, even after Lincecum logged five hitless innings.
Not with a blister forming on the tip of Lincecum’s middle finger. Not with the Giants owning baseball’s best record. And certainly, not with more than half of the season to play.
Instead, Lincecum and five relievers combined on a weird two-hitter to lead the San Francisco Giants to a 5-0 win over the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday.
“He worked so hard out there. It was time,” Bochy said.
The unconventional performance included 10 baserunners – five walks, two hits, two errors and a hit batter – before an announced sellout crowd of 41,186 at AT&T Park that wanted to cheer history.
Lincecum struck out five, walked four and hit a batter in another wild but effective start. George Kontos (1-0) retired four straight before John Baker singled through the right side of the infield with one out in the seventh against lefty Jeremy Affeldt for Chicago’s first hit.
Hector Sanchez hit a two-run double, and three others drove in a run to help the Giants (34-19) extend the best record in the majors. San Francisco has won six of seven after holding the Cubs scoreless in consecutive games.
Houston 9, Kansas City 3: Next comes the difficult part of the schedule for the Kansas City Royals.
Chris Carter hit two home runs, George Springer set a rookie club record for homers in a month and the Houston Astros beat the Royals 9-3 Wednesday for their fifth straight win.
The Astros, with the worst record in the AL, won three times in Kansas City for their first sweep of the season. Houston’s winning streak is its longest since a six-game string that ended last June 3.
“Yes, it’s a little bit embarrassing,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “Plain and simple, they outplayed us.”
The Royals have lost four in a row, seven of nine and dropped a season-worst four-games below .500.
In the next 12 days, the Royals play four at Toronto, four against St. Louis and four against the New York Yankees.
“We’ve got a team that is underperforming offensively,” Yost said. “When they start to perform to their level is when we are going to start producing wins and getting on a bit of a run. You got to fight through it, and stay calm. You just look for solutions and answers to problems.”
Ramirez returns to Fenway: Manny Ramirez apologized Wednesday for his behavior with the Boston Red Sox in his first public appearance since being hired as a minor league player-coach with the Chicago Cubs.
His apology came before a pregame ceremony in which the team honored its 2004 team that won Boston’s first World Series championship since 1918.
“I realize that I behaved bad in Boston,” Ramirez said. “The fans were great. I also played great when I was here, but I realized I behaved bad. I apologize for that. I’m a new man.”
He said he has been attending church for almost a year.
During seven-plus seasons with Boston, Ramirez hit .312 with 274 homers and 868 RBIs before being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008. While with Boston, he often jogged to first base and after fly balls, had a physical altercation with traveling secretary Jack McCormick and exhibited quirky behavior that led to the phrase, “Manny being Manny.”