Catching history: Sanchez savors special moment
Lincecum's batterymate behind plate for first no-hitter, establishes easy rhythm
SAN FRANCISCO -- It didn't take long for Bruce Bochy to seek out Hector Sanchez amid the on-field celebration of Tim Lincecum's no-hitter on Wednesday afternoon. A former catcher himself, Bochy wanted to make sure his catcher fully embraced the history he had just helped create.
"I said, 'You'll never forget this moment, be proud of this'," the Giants manager said he told Sanchez after the 4-0 victory over the Padres at AT&T Park. "For a catcher to catch a no-hitter, that's pretty special. He should feel so good about that, because he's such a huge part of what happened today."
Sanchez didn't need to be told twice.
"It's amazing. Everybody wants to be a part of something special. It's a great feeling," said Sanchez, who drove in the Giants' first run on a sacrifice fly in the second. "In the game, you don't want to think about it, but it's probably the best feeling in the world, after winning the World Series. This is the second."
Sanchez had flirted with history before -- he was behind the plate for Yusmeiro Petit's bid for a perfect game last season that was thwarted with two outs in the ninth -- but said he had never caught a no-hitter at any level.
His chance to initiate the celebratory hug of the pitcher finally came Wednesday. He didn't get Lincecum nearly as far into the air as Buster Posey did following Lincecum's first no-hitter of the Padres last July.
"I don't want to hurt him," Sanchez joked after the game, "nice and easy."
Nice and easy, just like the Lincecum-Sanchez battery made it look on Wednesday. No defensive heroics were required, and rare was a call given by Sanchez shaken off by Lincecum.
"They did have a good rhythm going," Bochy said. "The flow of the game, everything, they were right on the same page."
Sanchez's penchant for effectively backstopping Lincecum's sometimes erratic breaking balls earned him the nod as Lincecum's personal catcher, sparing Posey some wear and tear. The pair's chemistry has allowed Bochy to either rest Posey or play him at first base without worrying about a decline defensively when Lincecum's turn in the rotation comes around. That working relationship has never been healthier than it was on Wednesday.
"I know what kind of pitcher he is. I know the kinds of pitches he can throw in certain situations," Sanchez said. "I like Timmy because he's the kind of guy that's confident with his pitches. He can throw it in any count, any situation.
"I tried to just call the right pitch, and he did an amazing job. He was tremendous pitching down in the zone, and this is what happens. I just tried to be focused 100 percent. After the last out of the game, I enjoyed that moment, but before I had to be focused and keep calling pitches."
After the game, Lincecum revealed his celebratory plans for the night: "Probably going to go back to my house, maybe drink a little bit."
A toast to his battery mate is in order.
Ryan Hood is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ryanhood19. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.