No-Hitter by Giants Rookie Heston is Team's Fourth in Four Seasons
As Warriors fans were wringing their hands and gnashing their teeth Tuesday night at Lebron James’ latest act of heroism, Giants fans had yet another reason to celebrate.
For the fourth season in a row, a San Francisco Giants pitcher has thrown a no-hitter. Cain, Lincecum (twice) and now … Heston.
Rookie right-hander Chris Heston, in just his 13th career major league start, joined elite company Tuesday night when he held the Mets hitless in Queens, striking out 11 and walking none. (He did hit three batters.)
A week earlier, Heston couldn’t make it out of the fourth inning. Today, his name is being mentioned in the same breath as Sandy Koufax. With this latest no-no, the Giants become the first team since the 1962-65 Dodgers to have a no-hitter in four straight seasons. Koufax pitched all four for the Dodgers.
The Giants have now thrown five no-nos in seven seasons, going back to Jonathan Sanchez’s near-perfect game in 2009.
“I’m still not sure what just happened out there, to be honest with you,” Heston said during a postgame interview.
Heston is not your average rookie. He turned 27 a few months ago and logged more than 700 innings before making his MLB debut last September. The Giants drafted him in the 12th round of the 2009 MLB draft, out of East Carolina University. He spent the next six seasons working his way up through the Giants' farm system before finally getting the call to the bigs late last year.
There were plenty of bumps along the way. After being promoted to the AAA Fresno Grizzlies during the 2013 season, Heston struggled, posting a 5.80 ERA. He was released on July 21 to make room for Jeff Francoeur, after which he was available for any team to pick up. None did, and three days later, the Giants re-signed him.
He was an unheralded prospect and a stopgap starter who did not even make the team out of spring training. As soon as Heston arrived with Class AAA Sacramento in April, though, the Giants called him right back, inserting him into the rotation after Matt Cain went down with an injury.
And his style Tuesday night against the Mets was not one of typical overpowering dominance:
The formula was a steady diet of sinkers, changeups and curveballs, all of various speeds and meticulous command, bestowing a velocity that rarely eclipsed 90 m.p.h. But his pitches danced and darted and, most effectively, disappeared at the last instant.
In addition to his long and winding road to the bigs, Heston’s gem, the 286th no-hitter in MLB history according to Baseball-Reference.com, had plenty of statistical oddities as well.
-The only blemish on Heston’s stat-line: three hit batters. From Grantland:
“In the 205 nine-inning no-hitters that preceded Heston’s from 1914 to 2014, no pitcher — not even the wild ones who walked eight or nine, like Dock Ellis, Edwin Jackson, and A.J. Burnett — had hit more than two batters. Heston hit three.
- Heston finished off his no-hitter with three strikeouts in the ninth inning, something that hasn’t been done since 1965 when, you guessed it, Sandy Koufax finished off a perfect game by striking out three Cubs batters.
-Posey's been there before. According to Baseball Reference, Buster Posey becomes the 13th catcher to catch three no-hitters, joining the likes of Yogi Berra and Roy Campanella. Jason Varitek and oldtime Chicago White Sox catcher Ray Schalk have each caught four, the most ever. At this rate, Posey will pass them in the summer of 2017. #BusterHugs.
Posey told The New York Times that Heston only shook him off once all game.
-Not just a good night on the mound. Heston had two hits and two RBIs — a two-run single in the fourth and a single in the eighth.
Brad Thomsen wasn't sure whether to dab his eyes or clutch his chest. This was all so brand new and bewildering to him.
Thomsen was Heston's baseball coach from Palm Bay West Little League all the way through Bayside High in Brevard County, Florida. Tuesday night's 5-0 no-hit win over the Mets was the first time he saw Heston pitch as a major leaguer.
"I picked the right night to go," said Thomsen, a New York native who looked at the Giants schedule a month ago and invented a reason to visit family. "Oh, man. I had tears in my eyes. My blood pressure, my heart rate was up in that ninth inning. It was so surreal out there."