On the mound was Tim Lincecum. You know the guy. “The Freak?” Long, straight black hair that is California cool and hangs down past his shoulders? Two Cy Young Awards? Lined up to face him were three bottom-of-the-order Marlins with pipsqueak batting averages well south of .200. Two of the three had spent most of the season in the minors.
Uh, never mind.
Chris Coghlan, the worst hitter in all the majors with his .104 average when he stepped to the plate with two outs in the sixth, a 3-3 score, and two men aboard, brought an unlikely end to Lincecum’s night.
Coghlan belted a hanging curve into the right field bleachers that propelled the Marlins to a 7-6 victory over the Giants.
“In this game, you’re not up there thinking whatever,” Coghlan said. “I honestly don’t even know what I’m hitting. I just know it’s not good. You don’t think about those things.
“Every time you step in the box, you try to feel like you’re hitting 1.000.”
It was Coghlan’s first home run of the year, and the former Rookie of the Year pounded his chest with his fist once he knew for sure that the ball was out.
“I was pumped,” Coghlan said. “There’s no doubt about it. Facing one of the best pitchers, two outs. It’s huge.”
Said manager Ozzie Guillen: “He’s struggled all year long. That home run was very huge [against] one of the best pitchers in the game.
“Obviously, that was a big one for us.”
Off the sculpture
On a night when Giancarlo Stanton became the first player to hit the $2.1 million home run sculpture with another of his mighty blasts, a 409-foot shot to left-center that landed in the base of the structure, it was Coghlan’s shot that sent shock waves through the crowd.
After all, Coghlan is much less likely than Stanton to give the ball a jolt. Heck, even a base hit these days for Coghlan is cause for celebration.
But it happened, and it happened in a decisive sixth inning for the Marlins. After Stanton sliced the Giants’ lead to 3-2 with a RBI single, Lincecum got to the soft bottom half of the Marlins’ order.
Logan Morrison (.228) drew a one-out walk, though, Bryan Petersen (.179) singled and John Buck (.173) tied the score with a deep fly to center. That brought up Coghlan, and the result was a 380-foot shot over the wall in right.
“That’s the mark of a good team,” Coghlan said of the bottom hitters in the lineup each contributing in some way.
Lincecum received the loss, falling to 2-5. His counterpart on the Marlins, Josh Johnson, didn’t pitch any better. Neither of the two former All-Stars are looking like All-Star material this season, and Johnson labored for five innings before he was yanked for a pinch-hitter.
He gave up nine hits, walked a batter and struck out only three in the performance. Johnson did not receive a decision and remained 2-3.
Dan Jennings, who was called up Friday from Triple A, recorded his first major-league victory.
But the win did not come easily, as closer Heath Bell couldn’t finish off the Giants in the ninth.
With the Marlins holding a 7-4 lead, Bell gave up a leadoff double to the Giants’ Joaquin Arias, an RBI single to Brandon Belt and a double to Gregor Blanco when Guillen decided he had seen enough and brought in Steve Cishek.
Bell walked off the mound to boos. But Cishek retired Brandon Crawford on a sacrifice fly that made it 7-6 and struck out Melky Cabrera, the major-league leader in hits, on a called third strike to end the game.
“Bell’s my closer,” Guillen said. “But [Friday] I had a bad feeling, I had a gut feeling that he’s not playing well. He gets paid to close games. I get paid to win games, or give the players the best opportunity to win games.
“I know it’s a very hard and uncomfortable move. But, from the beginning, I didn’t feel comfortable. He’s going to be my closer [Saturday].”