The Warning Track: An Oddly Annual Celebration By The Bay

The Warning Track is a blog that covers all things Major League Baseball on a weekly basis, from discussing why some teams are getting hot, who’s in line for awards at season’s end and who is getting ready to make the leap to contender status, as well as off-the-field issues like first-time Commissioner Rob Manfred, which players could be headed to new homes, and A-Rod’s latest conundrum. 

If you have anything MLB-related that you would like to see discussed in the upcoming edition of The Warning Track, or have any comments at all, you may suggest/comment/rant/agree/disagree/tell me I know nothing about baseball at any time on Twitter @RealDavidLynch. 

 

A couple weeks after Shelby Miller of the Braves came one out away from pitching the first no-hitter of the 2015 season, Giants hurler Chris Heston indulged baseball fans with (finally) the first no-no of the year, becoming the first rookie to do so since Clay Buchholz in 2007.

But the more astounding feat? It’s the fourth year in a row that the Giants have thrown a no-hitter, following Matt Cain in 2012 and Tim Lincecum the last two years. That’s more than 7 MLB franchises have in their respective histories, with the San Diego Padres being the lone club yet to throw a no-no.

If there’s one thing the Giants of this decade are known for, too an almost comical extent, it is their consistent inconsistency. Everyone knows about the whole odd-year, even-year dichotomy, with the Giants winning the Fall Classic in 2010, 2012 and 2014 while failing to make the playoffs in the sandwiched seasons of 2011 and 2013.

They’ve even been difficult to figure out this season alone. After going 9-13 in April, the return of Hunter Pence spurred the defending champs to a spirited 15-4 run in late May, enough to propel them to the division’s summit for a short time. But they’ve slid back to a game behind the Dodgers after going 4-6 in their last 10 while giving up five or more runs six times in that span.

Nothing like a no-hitter to halt that streak, huh? By your rookie starter who has given up 16 runs over his last four starts entering the day, no less. Baseball has come to expect the unexpected from the Giants – fulfilling that unwritten mantra of the sport – whether in June or October, so perhaps we shouldn’t really be surprised at all by the caliber of Heston’s performance, or even its odd nature.

No-hitters do tend to be completely unexpected, coming at the most unusual points and, at times, for teams not known for their pitching. Exhibit A: the Giants themselves. Over the last three seasons of their no-hitter streak they’ve ranked 10th (3.50), 21st (4.00), and 7th (3.68) in the bigs in team ERA. They’re currently 13th for the 2015 campaign with a 3.78 mark.

And a pitcher can be destined to throw a no-hitter on any given day, or any given season. Tim Lincecum was among the league’s best from 2008 through 2011. It wasn’t until 2013 and 2014, when he had ERAs of 4.37 and 4.74, respectively, that he decided, seemingly out of the blue, to remind the baseball world what made him so good in years prior.

 

So no-no’s in four consecutive seasons? That hasn’t happened for one team since Sandy Koufax – who else? – took it upon himself to do it for the Dodgers every season from 1962 -1965. In fact, that’s the only other time it’s happened in major league history, making the feat all the more fascinating and strange.

But perhaps it isn’t as strange as it sounds for the oddball, consistently inconstent Giants, as much as it is a treat for a loyal fanbase that has ranked in the top 4 in ballpark attendance each year since their remarkable run of championships began in October of 2010. But the fact that every other year a no-hitter might be the highlight of the season when they celebrated a World Series win the fall before must take some getting used to.

It’s looking like that might be the case this season. It is an odd-year after all. But until we know for sure, Giants fans can celebrate – once again – a dominant performance by their pitcher, one of such a caliber that many teams haven’t seen from their own arms in years or decades.

But then again, they might be getting tired of it four years running. World Series championships and no-hitters. What more can a fan ask for?

 

David Lynch likes to talk about and write about movies, sports, and important happenings around the world. He is the assistant news editor at The Daily Lobo, the independent student newspaper at the University of New Mexico, and can be reached at lynchdavid695@unm.edu or on Twitter @RealDavidLynch.

 

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