PHOENIX -- From about the fourth inning at Chase Field on Friday night, the thoughts started popping into Tyson Ross' head. He had to find a way to keep them out."I realized, this is why the guys won't talk to me," Ross said.He was flirting with the first no-hitter in
PHOENIX -- From about the fourth inning at Chase Field on Friday night, the thoughts started popping into Tyson Ross' head. He had to find a way to keep them out.
"I realized, this is why the guys won't talk to me," Ross said.
He was flirting with the first no-hitter in Padres history. He was rolling. Dominating.
In the eighth inning, it all ended when D-backs pinch-hitter Christian Walker hit a line drive over the head of center fielder Franchy Cordero, who misplayed the ball. Not only did that RBI double end the no-no, but it tied the game, 1-1, and set the stage for a ninth-inning rally and a 4-1 win.
"It wasn't the cleanest break," Padres manager Andy Green said of Cordero's misread. "I know he's the type of kid that'll go home thinking about that, how he should've made that catch. Franchy gives everything he has out there."
To top it off, the ball had a catch probability of 99 percent, per Statcast™. The play should've been made. (To give some context on that catch probability, take a look at this Carlos Gomez catch below from 2016, which was basically identical in terms of the distance Cordero needed to cover and the time he had to do it. Gomez converted it with ease. You can find a full breakdown here.)
Nonetheless, the no-hitter was over.
"To be honest, that specific situation, I think the pressure's on him there," Walker said of his at-bat. "I watched a lot of at-bats, I watched him throw a lot of pitches that game, from the dugout, from the TV inside."
After the no-no was lost, the Padres still had a game to win. Against D-backs closer Brad Boxberger, they went to work.
Christian Villanueva hit the single that scored the go-ahead run, and the D-backs kicked the ball around to allow two more Padres runs to score.
The Padres are still the only franchise in the Majors that doesn't have a no-hitter to their credit.
It took 127 pitches for the D-backs to get a hit off of Ross. That was a new career-high, topping the 120 he threw when he tossed a complete game shutout and three-hitter against Cincinnati on July 2, 2014.
Green visited the mound earlier in the eighth inning.
"Just wanted to make sure he had gas left in the tank," Green said. "And it was clear he was really close to empty."
Then moments later, he added:
"I probably could've been lobbied."
Green later said that he intended to pull Ross after Walker's at-bat, regardless of how it went. While Ross shined, striking out 10 to go along with allowing a hit and a run, Green had warmed up reliever Craig Stammen from the eighth inning, just in case.
Ross had other ideas.
"If I'd have gotten [Walker] out, I'd have gutted it out," he said. "Even to have them go to the bullpen right there and have them finish it out, that would've been pretty cool. I would've done my best [to lobby Green]."
Ross becomes the latest Padres pitcher to come close of achieving the elusive feat, only to fall just short. He was four outs away.
But Friday is a highlight in Ross' career, which has recently taken twists and turns.
Ross started on Opening Day for the Padres in 2016. Then he missed the rest of the season because of right shoulder inflammation. He underwent surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome in October 2016, and started just 10 games for the Texas Rangers last season.
If Friday night was any indication, it's clear he still has it. He now holds a 2.81 ERA through four starts this year.
"He's a tall guy and he throws from a pretty high arm slot," said the D-backs' Daniel Descalso. "It seems like he's got that kind of get-me-over slider when he needs to throw a strike that's not as sharp, and then he goes to a sharp, more downer slider that's tough to lay off of because it's got to start really high up there for it to be a strike."
After the game, Green said each potential no-hitter is unique. In this case, Ross isn't a young, prized talent the organization needed to protect. He's a veteran, someone who's shown he's capable of going deep into games. A guy who's pitched near the top of the rotation -- when healthy -- for years.
So Green gave Ross, as he put it, "a leash as long as humanly possible." Ross, who went as far as he could before Brad Hand got the last four outs, fell just short of a milestone.
"I definitely know that we have yet to get a no-hitter," Ross said. "We have yet to win a World Series. Hopefully, we can do both of those here in the near future. Tonight was a good effort. Got close, but no cigar."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Asuaje with the assist: While Ross' no-hitter was still going on in the eighth inning, one play perhaps helped save the game for the Padres. Second baseman Carlos Asuaje fielded a ground ball, and with his team up a run, fired home to Austin Hedges.
The runner was out and the Padres maintained the lead, if only for a few minutes.
"That play is all reactions," Asuaje said. "To be honest, as soon as it was hit to me, I knew we had him. It was kind of an in-between play, but in my head I knew I had to time to get it and get rid of it before the guy could score."
Cordero's fourth-inning home run went 489 feet, per Statcast™. It's the longest homer any Padre has hit in the Statcast™ era that goes back to 2015, and because it left the bat at 116.3 mph, it's also the hardest-hit ball of any San Diego player since then. The home run was the longest at Chase Field in the Statcast™ era.
HE SAID IT
"I don't know how they said it wasn't 500 feet. Pretty sure it was." -- Green, on Cordero's home run
Clayton Richard will take the hill for the Padres in Game 2 of a three-game series against the D-backs. While fantastic on Opening Day, Richard has struggled since, logging three five-inning starts in which he's allowed 13 earned runs. The Padres will face Zack Godley, who has impressed for the D-backs early on this season.
Justin Toscano is an associate reporter for MLB.com.