The San Diego Padres were so close.
After a half-century of near-misses, all that stood between starting pitcher Tyson Ross and the franchise’s first-ever no-hitter were four outs.
Just as it’s been in the franchise’s first 7,834 games over 50 seasons, it simply wasn’t meant to be.
With four outs looking to become three, Arizona Diamondbacks pinch-hitter Christian Walker roped a double that just cleared the glove of center fielder Franchy Cordero. Many believe it’s a play Cordero could have made, and perhaps should have made. He clearly didn’t get a good read off the bat. By the time he recovered, all he could do was give his best effort.
It wasn’t enough.
When Walker’s double landed, not only did Ross lose his no-hitter, he lost his shutout and his opportunity to win the game. Earlier in the inning, he’d walked Nick Ahmad. When Ahmad was erased at home plate on a fielder’s choice, he was replaced on the bases by Deven Marrero. It was Marrero who then raced around with the tying run.
Ross, a 30-year-old right-hander who left the Padres in free agency following the 2016 season, only to return this winter, was immediately removed by manager Andy Green. Reliever Brad Hand recorded the final four outs to secure San Diego’s 4-1 victory and the 29th one-hitter in franchise history.
Ross was probably facing his final batter regardless. His final pitch was his 127th of the game. That’s a number very few pitchers reach anymore, let alone one just 18 months removed from surgery to fix thoracic outlet syndrome. Opportunities to throw a no-hitter create special circumstances, but Green would have had to think long and hard before allowing Ross to continue.
Ross struck out 10 and walked three over his 7.2 innings. As they often do, the Diamondbacks extended at-bats and ran up Ross’ pitch count by taking a lot of close pitches and fouling off others. That, in turn, makes Ross’ effort even more impressive. Arizona’s loaded lineup wasn’t taking Ross or the Padres for granted. They were battling. Ross was just better.
The Padres will now carry on as the only Major League Baseball franchise without a no-hitter. The New York Mets were in that category with them until June 1, 2012, when Johan Santana famously threw a career-high 134 pitches to no-hit the St. Louis Cardinals.
Santana was never quite the same after that historic outing. You can bet there will be a lot of people keeping a close eye on Ross to see how he bounces back from Friday.
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