After no-no in 1st start, Gilbert learns in 2nd

Left-hander allows 4 runs in 5 innings as D-backs drop opener at Coors Field

August 21st, 2021

DENVER -- Tyler Gilbert's first Major League start last Saturday was historic, as he became only the fourth pitcher to throw a no-hitter in his first career start.

Gilbert's second start on Friday night at Coors Field turned into a fistfight. There were no punches thrown in the game, but that was how Arizona manager Torey Lovullo described the outing.

And in case you don't speak "Lovullo," that translates into Gilbert having to battle hard throughout the D-backs' 9-4 loss to the Rockies.

Gilbert lost his bid for a no-hitter early in this one, when the Rockies' second batter of the game, Brendan Rodgers, singled sharply to right field. That ended Gilbert's chances of joining Johnny Vander Meer as the only pitcher to throw no-hitters in back-to-back starts.

The Rockies made Gilbert work hard for his outs, and he ended up allowing four runs on nine hits and one walk with two strikeouts over five innings. The left-hander got through his no-hitter on 102 pitches, but he threw 85 pitches on Friday.

"He got in that fistfight I talk about now and then," Lovullo said. "He was battling hard to keep us in the game. He made a great defensive play to get the big double play in his final inning of work, and he was out there fighting with everything that he had. He did his job. He kept us in the game."

Gilbert, though, had higher expectations for himself.

Even before his first start, Gilbert projected an air of confidence that belied the fact that he had only three relief appearances in the big leagues to that point.

"Not the way I wanted it to go," Gilbert said. "I think I battled in certain situations. I was told before the game that Colorado is a tough place to pitch. I know it is."

Gilbert had pitched well for the D-backs' Triple-A affiliate in Reno, where the ball also carries, so he wasn't ready to use the mile-high altitude of Denver as an out. He went 2-0 with a 3.04 ERA in five starts at Greater Nevada Field, the Aces' home ballpark, this season.

"The ball flies there, too," Gilbert said of Reno. "But just making sure you keep the ball down, not leaving it up and over the plate. These hitters can obviously do damage on that. Some of them did tonight.

"I’ve just got to focus on keeping it down. You’ve got to keep the ball down. I can tell it travels a little more here. Certain cutters that I was throwing weren’t biting or moving as much. But there’s no excuses for it. It is what it is. I’m glad I pitched here and got it out of the way so I can focus on the next time I come up here and check that box."

It was a whirlwind week for Gilbert, who fulfilled several national interview requests and saw his name talked about for days.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame requested some of the equipment Gilbert used during his no-no, and the D-backs even dug up the pitching rubber on the Chase Field mound to give to him -- only the third time they've done that during a season in franchise history. The first two times came after Jose Jimenez's no-hitter for the Cardinals on June 25, 1999, and Randy Johnson's 20-strikeout game against the Reds on May 8, 2001.

It was a lot, but not more than Gilbert said he could handle.

"There was a lot going on, a lot of stuff happening," Gilbert said. "But I just try to focus on my next start. I was able to balance it. But it was tough. Like I said before, it was a crazy moment and just a whirlwind. I was trying to get past that a couple of days after it happened and just focus on this start. I didn’t want to get too caught up in all that. Now, it’s just on to the next."