Cobb comes 1 out shy of hurling no-hitter vs. Reds

August 30th, 2023

SAN FRANCISCO -- ’s late-career renaissance reached another apex on Tuesday night, when the 35-year-old veteran came within one out of throwing the 18th no-hitter in Giants history in a 6-1 win over the Reds at Oracle Park.

Cobb carried a no-hit bid into the ninth and took the mound with his pitch count at 113, four more than his previous season high. He retired Noelvi Marte on a flyout before issuing a walk to Nick Senzel, giving the Reds only their second baserunner of the game. He then coaxed another flyout from TJ Friedl before his bid for history was spoiled by Spencer Steer, who delivered an RBI double into the right-center-field gap to finally put the Reds on the board.

The Giants didn’t have anyone else warming in the bullpen, so manager Gabe Kapler stuck with Cobb, who proceeded to strike out Elly De La Cruz for the final out, finishing with a career-high 131 pitches. He allowed only the one hit while walking one and striking out eight in his sixth career complete game and second of the season. 

“It’s still fun,” Cobb said. “I wasn’t mad or sad. It was just, ‘All right, let’s finish it off.’ At least [I got] the CG out of it. So many things have to go right for those things to happen.”

Cobb nearly finished off the feat with the help of center fielder Austin Slater, who made a spectacular diving catch on Will Benson’s sinking liner to left-center field for the final out of the eighth. Benson’s fly ball had an expected batting average of .480, but Slater came sprinting in and laid out to make the grab, which was upheld following a replay review.

“I was just thinking, ‘I’m not letting this drop,’” Slater said. “I really wanted it for Cobber. I knew what was at stake. It was a do-or-die play, and everything was on the line, so I just went for it.”

Cobb immediately thrust his hands up in the air in a show of appreciation for Slater, who received a standing ovation when he came up to bat in the bottom of the eighth.

“When Slates made that catch, I started to think maybe it was going to be one of those nights,” Cobb said.

Cobb previously carried a no-hit bid into the eighth inning while pitching for the Rays on Sept. 11, 2014, but he lost it after surrendering a one-out double to the Yankees’ Chris Young. The Giants haven’t had a pitcher complete a no-hitter since Chris Heston twirled one against the Mets on June 9, 2015.

With the win, the Giants (69-63) moved past the D-backs into the third National League Wild Card spot by a half-game and pushed the Reds to two games back. San Francisco also won the season series against Cincinnati by taking four of their first six meetings, securing the head-to-head tiebreaker in the standings.

Cobb, leaning heavily on his signature splitter, which he threw 63 percent of the time, retired the first eight batters he faced before Senzel reached on a throwing error by third baseman Casey Schmitt in the third. Schmitt ranged to his right to make a backhanded grab on Senzel’s chopper down the third-base line, but he made a high throw to first baseman J.D. Davis, allowing Senzel to reach safely and give the Reds their first baserunner of the game.

Senzel was initially credited with an infield hit, but official scorer Chris Thoms changed the ruling to an error in the top of the fourth, keeping Cobb’s no-hit bid intact. Cobb said he didn’t even notice the change until the top of the seventh inning, which helped take some of the pressure off for most of the night.

“I was thinking about trying to go throw a one-hitter and then challenge the play and get a no-hitter in like a week,” Cobb joked. “It kind of worked to my advantage that I was able to go out and attack the zone and not worry about it.”

Cobb received early run support from the Giants’ offense, which scored twice off Reds left-hander Brandon Williamson in the second and then added another three runs in the third. Patrick Bailey capped the latter rally with a two-run blast to right-center field, which was nearly robbed by Friedl, who had the ball in the tip of his glove but dropped it once he hit the bullpen wall.

Cobb admitted that he felt “dead” when he came back out for the ninth, but he drew a second wind as heard his walkout song, “Intro” by The xx, blare over the speakers and tried to ride the adrenaline rush from the roars of the fans in attendance.

While he fell agonizingly short of completing the no-hitter, he said he thanked Kapler afterward for giving him a chance to finish it off, even as his pitch count began to climb into uncomfortable territory.

“I think he knows where I’m at in my career and how special a night like that [is] to myself and my family,” Cobb said. “I was thankful he let me do that.”