Tyler Gilbert, gotten by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft only eight months ago, threw a no-hitter in the first start of his major league career on Saturday night.
He did so by blanking a star-studded San Diego Padres lineup while toeing the rubber for a last-place team, writing one of the most improbable sports stories of 2021.
Gilbert, 27, became the fourth pitcher in baseball history to throw a no-hitter in his first big league start. Only two have done that since the start of the 20th century, most recently Bobo Holloman in 1953.
“Amazing,” Gilbert said with a smile after a 7-0 triumph from Phoenix’s Chase Field. “It hasn’t hit me too much yet, but it’s really cool.”
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Gilbert’s last out came against Tommy Pham, who had previously drawn three walks and stood as the only Padres player to reach base.
The first pitch, Gilbert’s 102nd of the night, was a cutter out over the plate that was lined directly into the glove of D-backs center fielder Ketel Marte. It solidified the eighth no-hitter in the majors this season, tying a record that was set in 1884, the first year that overhand pitching was permitted.
Gilbert, a 6-foot-3 left-hander, was a sixth-round pick out of Southern California by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2015. He was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in February 2020 and was plucked from their organization by the D-backs that December, then posted a 3.44 ERA with 50 strikeouts and 19 walks in 52⅓ Triple-A innings in 2021.
Gilbert didn’t play organized baseball in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic shut down the minor league season, so Gilbert spent his summer throwing bullpens to an old high school coach and doing electrical work alongside his father in order to make ends meet.
“I’d rather be doing this than pulling wires,” Gilbert said. “No offense, Dad.”
Gilbert’s father was in the stands on Saturday, noticeably emotional as the night progressed. Gilbert’s mother, his girlfriend and her parents also were there.
Gilbert relied heavily on his cutter to offset his two-seam fastball. He recorded only five strikeouts. Ten of the balls hit against him traveled at least 95 mph, one of which was caught up against the fence to begin the top of the eighth. But it was a no-hitter nonetheless — and a much-needed bright spot for a D-backs team with a league-worst 38-80 record.
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