Rubino: Consoling memories in wake of Giants' letdown year

  • The water bath hits the San Francisco Giants as they celebrate the no hitter thrown by Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum against the San Diego Padres in a baseball game in San Diego, Saturday, July 13, 2013. The Giants won the game 9-0. Tim Lincecum has thrown his first career no-hitter and the second in the majors in 11 days, a gem saved by a spectacular diving catch by right fielder Hunter Pence in the San Francisco Giants' 9-0 win against the last-place San Diego Padres on Saturday night. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

As the Giants' funk and flop of an anticlimactic baseball season ends today, the team's hard-core fans will desperately cling to a handful of warm, bright memories to help get them through the cold, dark winter ahead.

Here are three such memories from one such fan.

Angel Pagan's 10th-inning inside-the-park game-ending homer.

On May 25, with the Giants trailing the Rockies, 5-4, and a runner on second, Pagan scorched a pitch from Rafael Betancourt into AT&T Park's cavernous right-center field, also known as Triples Alley, which Pagan turned into Inside-The-Park Homer Alley.

Speeding around the bases like a man on a game-winning mission, Pagan's head-first slide across home beat the Rockies' relay throw by plenty, and the Giants had one of the more unusual, and electrifying, victories you'll ever see.

With the win, the Giants remained tied for first place in the NL West. Ah, those were the days. Pagan wouldn't play again for more than three months, thanks to a wrecked hamstring, and the Giants would proceed to descend like the iconic figure in the opening credits of Mad Men.

Tim Lincecum's 148-pitch no-hitter.

By objective standards, Lincecum had another poor season: More losses than wins, high ERA, blow-up innings subverting otherwise solid outings.

All that aside for a moment, it's nearly impossible for Giants fans to be objective when it comes to their Timmy. And if two Cy Young awards and two stellar postseason performances weren't enough, Lincecum assured his place in team history with this line against the Padres at San Diego on July 13: nine innings pitched, no runs, no hits, four walks and 13 strikeouts. Toss in a wild pitch and a hit batter, too.

But in this micro-managing era of pitch-count obsession, the stat that freakishly stands out is 148 pitches. And the image from that game that stands out is Buster Posey joyously rushing the mound as the last out was being made, bear hugging Lincecum from behind and lifting him in triumph.

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