D-backs’ Gilbert throws no-hitter in first career start

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PHOENIX – Tyler Gilbert became the first pitcher in 68 years to throw a no-hitter in his first big league start, lifting the Arizona Diamondbacks over the San Diego Padres 7-0 Saturday night with the record-tying eighth no-hitter in the majors this season.

Gilbert joined Bumpus Jones in his major league debut with the Cincinnati Reds on Oct. 15, 1892, and Bobo Holloman for the St. Louis Browns on May 6, 1953, as the only players with a no-hitter in their first start.

The eight no-hitters matched the mark set in 1884, the first year overhand pitching was allowed.

Gilbert struck out Trent Grisham and Ha-Seong Kim in the ninth before Tommy Pham lined out to center fielder Ketel Marte. Joyous Diamondbacks players threw their gloves in the air and rushed the mound, mobbing the surprising hero who spent six seasons in the minors and was selected in the Triple-A portion of the Rule 5 draft last winter.

“Crazy,” Gilbert said. “It’s not going to hit me for probably another day. I don’t know what just happened.”

The 27-year-old Gilbert threw 102 pitches, including 64 strikes. He rarely delivered his fastball above 90 mph, but he effectively peppered the Padres with breaking pitches and leaned on his defense, which bailed him out on several hard-hit balls.

Pavin Smith caught a liner from Adam Frazier and then stepped on first to double off Tommy Pham in the fourth. There was a line drive snagged by Gilbert off Eric Hosmer to end the fifth. Third baseman Drew Ellis made a diving catch in the seventh. David Peralta made a leaping grab at the wall on Austin Nola‘s long fly ball in the eighth.

Gilbert needed just three pitches to get through the eighth, setting up a dramatic ninth. Marte caught the sinking line drive for the final out while running in from center field.

“I tried to tune out as much as I could,” Gilbert said. “But that last inning, I heard everything.”

Among those celebrating the first Diamondbacks’ no-hitter at home was Gilbert’s family. They were also on hand for his debut in relief on Aug. 3.

It was a stunning performance for the Diamondbacks, who have the worst record in the big leagues this season. It’s the third no-hitter in franchise history and first since Edwin Jackson on June 25, 2010.

The Chicago Cubs threw the majors’ most recent no-hitter with a combined effort June 24. The other no-hitters this year were thrown by San Diego’s Joe Musgrove (April 9), Carlos Rodon of the Chicago White Sox (April 14), Baltimore’s John Means (May 5), Cincinnati’s Wade Miley (May 7), Detroit’s Spencer Turnbull (May 18) and the New York Yankees’ Corey Kluber (May 19).

In addition, Arizona’s Madison Bumgarner pitched a seven-inning hitless game in a doubleheader on April 25 that is not recognized as a no-hitter by Major League Baseball.

Most of those gems were thrown before MLB cracked down on the use of sticky foreign substances by pitchers in late June.

It’s been a brutal series for the Padres, who are struggling to keep up in the playoff race. San Diego still occupies the second NL wild-card spot but has fallen 10 games behind the NL West-leading San Francisco Giants.

The Diamondbacks jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning off Joe Musgrove (8-8), who needed 39 pitches to slog through nine batters. Josh VanMeter doubled to leadoff the game and Marte brought him home with another double.

David Peralta had an RBI single and then the 25-year-old Ellis had the big blow when he smacked Musgrove’s hanging breaking ball into the left field seats.

Gilbert (1-1) struck out five and walked two. The sixth-round pick out of Southern California in 2015 had spent his entire career in the minor leagues until being called up a few weeks ago. He was making his fourth appearance.

REVOLVING DOOR

Gilbert was the 15th different Diamondbacks starting pitcher this season, which extends a club record. The previous high was 12, which has happened four times. The last occurance was 2019.

UP NEXT

The Padres and Diamondbacks wrap up the four-game series on Sunday. Arizona sends RHP Zac Gallen (1-6, 4.87) to the mound to face San Diego RHP Craig Stammen (5-3, 3.31).

MLB crowds jump from ’21, still below pre-pandemic levels

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PHOENIX — Even with the homer heroics of sluggers like Aaron Judge and Albert Pujols, Major League Baseball wasn’t able to coax fans to ballparks at pre-pandemic levels this season, though attendance did jump substantially from the COVID-19 affected campaign in 2021.

The 30 MLB teams drew nearly 64.6 million fans for the regular season that ended Wednesday, which is up from the 45.3 million who attended games in 2021, according to baseball-reference.com. This year’s numbers are still down from the 68.5 million who attended games in 2019, which was the last season that wasn’t affected by the pandemic.

The 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers led baseball with 3.86 million fans flocking to Dodger Stadium for an average of 47,672 per contest. The Oakland Athletics – who lost 102 games, play in an aging stadium and are the constant subject of relocation rumors – finished last, drawing just 787,902 fans for an average of less than 10,000 per game.

The St. Louis Cardinals finished second, drawing 3.32 million fans. They were followed by the Yankees (3.14 million), defending World Series champion Braves (3.13 million) and Padres (2.99 million).

The Toronto Blue Jays saw the biggest jump in attendance, rising from 805,901 fans to about 2.65 million. They were followed by the Cardinals, Yankees, Mariners, Dodgers, and Mets, which all drew more than a million fans more than in 2021.

The Rangers and Reds were the only teams to draw fewer fans than in 2021.

Only the Rangers started the 2021 season at full capacity and all 30 teams weren’t at 100% until July. No fans were allowed to attend regular season games in 2020.

MLB attendance had been declining slowly for years – even before the pandemic – after hitting its high mark of 79.4 million in 2007. This year’s 64.6 million fans is the fewest in a non-COVID-19 season since the sport expanded to 30 teams in 1998.

The lost attendance has been balanced in some ways by higher viewership on the sport’s MLB.TV streaming service. Viewers watched 11.5 billion minutes of content in 2022, which was a record high and up nearly 10% from 2021.