The San Francisco Giants will most likely not get a chance to defend their World Series title, leaving Tim Lincecum's no-hitter as the highlight of this disappointing campaign.
Headed towards free agency at season's end, Lincecum returns to the spot of his milestone outing on Wednesday evening. He'll take the mound at Petco Park trying to help his team avoid a three-game sweep at the hands of the San Diego Padres.
The Giants have followed up their second championship in three years with a subpar season that sees the club currently 16 games under .500. In dropping the first two contests of this series, San Francisco is last in the NL West, a game behind San Diego.
At least the club will have Lincecum's no-hitter to look back on. He posted that gem on July 13, throwing 148 pitches in the 9-0 win. The righty walked four and hit a batter while also striking out a season-high 13 batters.
Lincecum should enjoy his return trip to Petco Park, where he is 6-3 lifetime with a 2.22 earned run average in 13 games.
"It's a little bit more nostalgic for me, I guess you could say," Lincecum told MLB.com. "But I'm not really thinking about that right now."
Lincecum is facing an uncertain offseason as he has struggled for a second straight campaign. He is just 8-13 with a 4.38 ERA in 27 starts, though he did win his second outing in a row on Friday. Lincecum hurled six scoreless innings to beat Arizona 1-0, allowing six hits and two walks while striking out just two.
"He kept his poise when he got in a tough jam there and made some nice pitches," San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said of his 29-year-old starter.
Eric Stults was given the task of starting for the Padres the day after they were no-hit by Lincecum, but today goes head-to-head with the former NL Cy Young Award winner.
Stults limited San Francisco to a run over six innings when he last faced them in July, earning a 10-1 win and improving to 5-3 with a 4.82 ERA in 15 career meetings with the Giants, including 13 starts.
The left-hander has not won since, dropping five straight decisions. Stults lost his second start in a row on Friday, allowing four runs over 5 1/3 innings, though manager Bud Black was happy with how his 33-year-old pitched.
"Stults threw the ball better than his line indicated tonight," Black said.
Still, Stults fell to 8-12 this year with a 3.81 ERA in 28 starts.
San Diego had lost five of six ahead of this series, but put itself in position for the sweep by winning 3-2 last night. Chris Denorfia drove in the go-ahead run in the seventh inning, lining an 0-2 pitch for a single that plated Nick Hundley.
"I just didn't see the ball really well the first pitch, after that I just kind of had to battle," said Denorfia. "I tried to do whatever I could to go the ball into the outfield."
The Giants had their chances in the later stages, but left a runner in scoring position in each of the last four innings. They went 3-for-15 in such situations for the game and left 11 men on base.
"It's what hurt us," said Bochy, whose club fell to 3-5 on its nine-game road trip. "We were good early and it's just gone the other way now."
San Francisco catcher Buster Posey is questionable for this game after exiting early on Tuesday night. Posey suffered an injury to his hand while blocking a ball in the dirt during the sixth inning.
Giants catcher Buster Posey was removed from Tuesday night's game in San Diego after being hit in the hand while trying to block a curveball in the dirt in the sixth inning.
The Giants came into this series having won five of their previous six meetings with the Padres, but are in danger of getting swept in three games in San Diego for the second time this year (April 26-28).