Tyler Gilbert Throws No-Hitter in First Major League Start; Diamondbacks Trounce Padres

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Diamondbacks 7, Padres 0

PHOENIX, Aug. 14 — Tyler Gilbert, making his first major league start in his fourth major league appearance, threw the third no-hitter in his team’s history, leading the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 7–0 victory over the San Diego Padres. Gilbert became the fourth pitcher in major league history to throw a no-hitter in his first-ever start. He joined Theodore (Ted) Breitenstein (10/4/1891 for the St. Louis Browns [now the Cardinals]), Bumpus Jones (10/15/1892 for the Cincinnati Reds in his major league debut), and Bobo Holloman (5/6/1953 for the St. Louis Browns) as the only pitchers to ever do so — guys he had never even heard of before this game.

Diamondbacks Take Big Lead over Padres in First Inning

The Diamondbacks turned the bottom of the first into a merry-go-round against Joe Musgrove, who threw the first no-hitter in Padres history earlier this season. Second baseman Josh VanMeter opened the festivities with a double. Center fielder Ketel Marte drove him in with a double of his own and advanced to third when Pavin Smith followed with a single. First baseman Asdrubal Cabrera thought he had a walk on a 3-1 curveball, but plate umpire Scott Barry ruled that it clipped the top of the zone. Cabrera swung at and missed the next pitch, a curveball that broke out of the zone. He angrily yelled at Barry while heading to the dugout before turning around and emphatically pointing while still yelling.

BANG! Gone.

For the eighth time in his career, Cabrera was ejected. He got in Barry’s face and continued jawing, pointing for emphasis in the nose-to-nose discussion. Third base coach Tony Perezchica sprinted over to get Cabrera away from Barry before he did anything rash. Manager Torey Lovullo also hustled out of the dugout to run interference. They got Cabrera out of there. After Lovullo let off some steam, he returned to the dugout without getting tossed himself.

Left fielder David Peralta resumed the hit parade with an RBI single, bringing up Drew Ellis. On 0–2, Ellis sent a blast into the left-field bleachers for his first major league home run, a three-run shot. A walk, a foul popup, and a grounder to third later, the inning ended with the Diamondbacks holding a 5–0 lead.

Mastery of Tyler Gilbert

Tyler Gilbert walked left fielder Tommy Pham to open the top of the first, but a 4-6-3 double play off the bat of second baseman Adam Frazier — up next — wiped out that walk. Third baseman Manny Machado struck out to end the top of the first.

The top of the second was a 1-2-3 inning for Gilbert. Shortstop Jake Cronenworth flied to center before catcher Austin Nola and first baseman Eric Hosmer both grounded to second. The top of the third also was 1-2-3, as right fielder Wil Myers fanned, center fielder Trent Grisham grounded into the overshift, and Musgrove whiffed.

The top of the fourth saw Pham lead off with his second walk. Frazier followed with a hard-hit liner directly to first baseman Pavin Smith, who stepped on the bag to double up Pham. Machado hit another ball hard but close enough to Peralta for him to make a routine play.

The fifth and sixth were also three up, three down innings. Cronenworth and Nola opened the fifth with fly balls to center and right, respectively. Hosmer followed with a laser up the middle. Gilbert, however, snatched it out of the air like an NHL goalie. Myers led off the sixth with a fly to center before Grisham grounded to first with the pitcher covering and pinch-hitter Jake Marisnick flied to left.

Diamondbacks Pad Their Lead

Meanwhile the Diamondbacks added to their lead in both the fifth and sixth. Smith led off the bottom of the fifth with a single and scored on a triple to the corner in deep right-center by Josh Rojas, who entered the game after Cabrera’s ejection. A leadoff double by shortstop Nick Ahmed in the bottom of the sixth led to the seventh and final run of the evening. He advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Gilbert — his second of the game — and scored on a single by VanMeter.

The Final Three Frames

The seventh inning saw another play that gave the 16,716 in attendance a feeling that something special was in the air. After Pham led off with his third walk of the game, Frazier belted a low rocket toward the left side. Third baseman Drew Ellis dove to his left and caught it, stealing a hit. Machado followed with a popup to first before Cronenworth grounded into a 4-6 force play.

Nola led off the eighth with a deep fly to left. It had a chance to end Gilbert’s bid on a home run, but Peralta made the catch with his back nearly against the wall. Hosmer followed with a grounder to short. Ahmed made a fine play on the run to field it and throw Hosmer out at first. Myers, up next, smashed a deep, towering fly to right-center. Marte made the catch in the shadow of the home run porch in right-center. All three at-bats lasted one pitch, so Gilbert escaped the eighth after the bare-minimum three pitches.

Grisham and pinch-hitter Ha-Seong Kim started the ninth with back-to-back called strikeouts. Kim stayed at the plate to argue briefly before returning to the dugout. Up came Pham, the only Padre to reach base all night. He hit a liner to second that appeared for a split second to be destined to fall for a hit, but there was enough backspin to carry it to Marte, who made the game-ending catch.

Diamondbacks, Gilbert Celebrate Improbable Win over Padres

Bedlam ensued on the field. The jubilant Diamondbacks, who have been victims of some of the worst luck in recent memory throughout 2021, let out joy that had been waiting for months to emerge. They danced around Gilbert, taking turns hugging him. After celebrating with his teammates, manager, and coaches, Gilbert headed to the gate near the dugout. Waiting for him were his parents, who showed the sense of deep pride that only a parent can give as they each had a turn hugging their son.

This ended one of the most improbable no-hitters in major league history. A minor league Rule Five draft pick — someone who worked as an electrician in the summer of 2020 to make ends meet when there was no minor league season — had thrown a no-hitter against a formidable lineup that is still in the Wild Card hunt.

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Postgame Reflections

“I don’t even know where to start,” Lovullo beamed after the game. “It was an unbelievable moment for Tyler. An unbelievable moment for his teammates, this organization. You’re always looking for those types of exciting moments. (It was) magnified, obviously, because of the year we’re having. For us to push back everything and have one special day and an incredible moment like that was a great feeling for everybody.

“The fans were engaged. They were probably pushing (Gilbert) those last couple innings (and) those last couple of batters. Everybody in the stadium knew what was going on, and Tyler was amazing.”

Lovullo reminded everyone that, although it was the first nine-inning no-hitter for the Diamondbacks since Edwin Jackson threw one in 2010, it was the second overall no-hitter in 2021. “Let’s remember — it’s our second no-hitter. I know (Madison Bumgarner’s) was a seven-inning no-hitter. Tyler put a little icing on the cake by making a statement and throwing a nine-inning no-hitter. It doesn’t get any better.”

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Sage Advice

With modern major league pitcher handling being what it is, Lovullo got nervous around the sixth inning. The medical teams often handcuff the managers or pressure them into pulling pitchers before the manager normally would do it. Tonight, however, he got some wise words from acting pitching coach Mike Fetters, himself a retired major league pitcher from 1989-2004. “He said, ‘Just be patient.’ That got my attention, and I started looking at it a little bit differently. And that’s when I told myself I’d probably stretch it out beyond 105 pitches (the medical team limit). Everything became more magnified as the game was being played. (Every time I looked at Tyler), his face told me a story where his heartbeat was great, and he was slowing the game down. I think he was slowing it down for me. He was slowing it down for everybody around him. That’s what makes the day so special.”

It’s an Honor for the Catcher, Too

After hitting Friday night’s walk-off home run, Diamondbacks catcher Daulton Varsho said nothing in life compares to hitting a walk-off home run. However, he couldn’t have imagined what was in store for him Saturday, gaining the honor of catching a no-hitter. “it definitely tops (Friday) easily. I don’t think I could have a better back-to-back days ever in my career.” He later added about catching the no-hitter, “It’s a pretty cool honor.” Later he said, “I’m more happy for Tyler than I am for myself. I don’t know how to explain it. I’m so happy for his family, and (that they were) able to be here.”

Tyler Gilbert Reflects

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When taking the mound in the ninth, Tyler Gilbert was not nervous at all. He said, “I felt like I should have been — I don’t know why. But I kept just going out there and doing my thing. I was really nervous before the game, leading up to the game. But after the three-pitch eighth inning, I was like, ‘Okay, this is possibly going to happen.’ But I stayed level-headed and kept making pitches.”

The five-run cushion after the bottom of the first helped Gilbert relax. However, there was something more important. “The biggest thing for me was to put up a zero after we scored five. That’s something that (Fetters) was telling me in the dugout. He said, “We need a zero out of you this inning after putting five against them. So a shutdown inning was huge.”

The Hall of Fame collected a ball, his glove, his jersey, and his cleats. About that, Gilbert said, “That’s amazing. I mean, it’s cool. To me, it just hasn’t hit me too much yet, but it’s really cool. I can’t really describe it.”

That statement might have summed of the feelings of everyone who witnessed this remarkable event. Congratulations to Tyler Gilbert.

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Players mentioned:

Tyler Gilbert, Theodore (Ted) Breitenstein, Bumpus Jones, Bobo Holloman, Joe Musgrove, Josh VanMeter, Ketel Marte, Pavin Smith, Asdrubal Cabrera, Tony Perezchica, Torey Lovullo, David Peralta, Drew Ellis, Tommy Pham, Adam Frazier, Manny Machado, Jake Cronenworth, Austin Nola, Eric Hosmer, Wil Myers, Trent Grisham, Jake Marisnick, Josh Rojas, Nick Ahmed, Ha-Seong Kim, Edwin Jackson, Madison Bumgarner, Mike Fetters, Daulton Varsho