Timing leads yours truly to see Lincecum no-hit the Padres — second of my lifetime

Posted: 07/14/2013 in baseball
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Sometimes timing has a really interesting way of playing out in your favor.

I decided to take a vacation to my beloved hometown of San Diego in July instead of June because I have a crazy quarterly tax payment due in June and it crippled me two years ago when I took a vacation right before the payment was due. In addition, the baseball All-Star break cuts into my work income so it makes sense to take a vacation that overlaps the break.

Then I was pretty much committed to spending Saturday night, July 13 at my very cool sister’s house an hour north of San Diego. She was getting her car worked on at a mechanic’s shop close to where I am staying and I was going to pick up her vehicle and drive it up the freeway and spend the night at her house.

But I had lunch with the terrific radio engineer of the San Diego Padres on Friday afternoon and he offered to get me two tickets to Saturday’s game.

So there I was at Petco Park on a night that I had previously decided would be a very bad night to be at the downtown ballpark. Edinson Volquez was to pitch for the Padres and I had minimal interest in watching his act live during what is supposed to be a stress-less vacation.

Volquez lived down to my expectations – and probably surpassed them on the horrible scale – by getting hammered for eight runs and nine hits in five innings in a dreadful performance that helped San Diego lose 9-0.

But look at what happened on the other side of the ledger – San Francisco pitcher Tim Lincecum pitched a no-hitter. He struck out 13 and threw 148 pitches in a stellar effort.

That’s no-hitter No. 2 in my baseball watching career. I was at Qualcomm Stadium on Sept. 3, 2001 – it was Labor Day – when Bud Smith tossed one of the more unlikely no-hitters in major-league baseball history as the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Padres 4-0.

Lincecum’s gem is only the fourth no-hitter ever thrown in San Diego – Dock Ellis (1970) and A.J. Burnett (2001) also turned the trick – and the first one ever tossed at Petco Park.

Giants right fielder Hunter Pence landed the co-starring role with a homer and five RBIs but I will always remember him more for what happened with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Alexi Amarista laced a bullet to right field that looked like a sure hit. But Pence got a superb break on the ball at the crack of the bat and sprinted inward and made a spectacular diving shoestring grab to preserve the no-hitter.

Lincecum then worked through the ninth inning and wrapped up the no-hitter by getting Yonder Alonso to fly out to left field to set off a wild celebration.

It was quite a crazy scene at Petco Park with the ballpark being filled by San Francisco fans. The enthusiasm throughout the contest was so much in favor of the Giants that it made you wonder if the game was actually at AT&T Park.

Quite an embarrassing night for the Padres to have another team’s fans take over your ballpark and get no-hit on the same night.

But it certainly qualifies as a terrific night for me personally to see a second no-hitter in my lifetime. The first one was bizarre – and has become even more so in ensuing years – as Smith only won seven major-league games before fading into oblivion.

Of course, if you’re going to see a no-hitter in San Diego, it has to come from a visiting pitcher. The franchise has never thrown a single no-hitter in its 45-season history.

And, um, we all know Edinson Volquez wasn’t going to be throwing one on Saturday night.

As for my sister’s vehicle, the mechanic didn’t get it done on Saturday anyway. I can always see my sister but you can’t always view a no-hitter in person.

This makes two no-nos … hmmmm, when’s No. 3 coming down the pike?

Timing, my friends. Just good old-fashioned lucky timing.

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