Reporting from ORACLE PARK
Alex Cobb had a night to remember, coming within one out of a no-hitter as the San Francisco Giants won their third straight with a 7-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds at Oracle Park on Tuesday night.
On his masterful performance, Cobb reflected:
“In the moment, I was just focused on the delivery and the game plan and executing pitches and then it started become real. I had some cool thoughts going on through my mind – having my family here and thanking them. It was special for sure.”
Sitting at 113 pitches to begin the ninth inning, Cobb (W, 7-5, 3.57 ERA) recorded a one-pitch fly out off the bat of Noelvi Marte. Nick Senzel, the only Red to reach base in the game, drew a walk, setting it up for TJ Friedl, who flew out to right. Spencer Steer was next, breaking up the no-hit effort with a dramatic RBI double over the outstretched glove of right fielder Luis Matos.
Cobb would have been the first Giants pitcher to fire a no-hitter since Chris Heston did so at Citi Field in New York against the Mets on June 9, 2015. Cobb also would have thrown the 18th no-hitter in franchise history and first at Oracle Park since Tim Lincecum dominated in his second career no-no against San Diego on June 25, 2014.
The only baserunner Cobb allowed was Senzel, on a third-inning throwing error from third baseman Casey Schmitt – a play originally ruled a single by the official scorer – and on a walk in the ninth.
Cobb entered Tuesday night seeking his first victory since July 5 and struggling mightily with a 5.48 ERA in his last 42-2 ⁄ 3 innings of work; ten of the 16 homers Cobb has allowed this season came during that span. With a constant desire for quality innings from their starting pitchers, Cobb provided that effort.
Manager Gabe Kapler called Cobb’s outing a “beautifully pitched game”:
“He executed with all of his pitches. He seemingly had plenty of gas left in the tank in the ninth inning, which I think was at least somewhat surprising. It didn’t feel like he was like running out and was just gutting his way through that ninth. It still felt like he had his command and I think pitch number 124 was like 95 mph. Pretty impressive outing and amazing play by Slates to preserve the no-hitter and finish out about as good a game as we’ve seen in the last couple of years.”
Cobb began his eighth inning at 99 pitches, a high pitch count for a starter looking toward a complete game, especially one with a season high of 109. But Cobb was able to continue by striking out Tyler Stephenson before inducing a groundout from Christian Encarnacion-Strand. With two outs, Will Benson blooped a fly ball to shallow left-center. Slater, with every ounce of stretch in him, laid out to make a superhero catch to preserve the no-hit bid.
Slater said he knew his dive was a do-or-die:
“I was just thinking I’m not letting this drop. Honestly off the bat, I didn’t think I had a chance but I was like, ‘Well, I’m diving anyway so I might as well keep going after it’ and luckily was able to get there and make play.”
With the win, the Giants (69-63) clinch the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Reds (68-66), which has significant playoff implications regarding the National League Wild Card race. They’ve now won four of six against them this season.
Switch-hitting rookie catcher Patrick Bailey’s success hitting from the right side of the plate has been a revelation, but also an unintended surprise.
Hitting in the sixth spot, Bailey went 2-for-3 on the night with all of his success coming in the middle or right side of the field. After singling to right in the first, Bailey came up in the third with a runner on first and cranked a two-out, two-run shot to center. The ball sailed over the outstretched glove of Reds center fielder TJ Friedl, who leaped and tumbled to the ground empty-handed. The swing extended the San Francisco lead to 5-0.
Facing Cincinnati southpaw Brandon Williamson (L, 4-4, 4.20 ERA), the odds were stacked against Bailey and his well-known subpar track record from the right side. In the big leagues, however, Bailey has flipped the script. Entering Tuesday, the 24-year-old had managed a .333/.379/.531 slash line against lefties, with now five homers against them.
The Giants added some offense early in the game, too. After a run-scoring balk by Williamson in the second, rookie outfielder Luis Matos cashed in with an RBI double into the right field corner – a ball that would’ve been a normal, routine fly ball anywhere else on the field.
Since being called back up to the big leagues on Aug. 20, Matos is now 7-for-22 with five extra-base hits. With Mike Yastrzemski expected back any day now, the corresponding move would seem to come via the surplus of Giants outfielders, so Matos playing well could be the overall deciding factor if he’s sent out soon or not.
Mitch Haniger returned to the lineup for the Giants, batting in the cleanup spot and playing left field. The 32-year-old has been out since June 14 with a fractured right forearm after being drilled with a pitch in St. Louis. As their top free agent commitment, the Giants have missed the production Haniger – a right-handed power bat when healthy – could bring to the lineup, which has struggled as a whole since he hit the shelf.
The Giants will try to sweep the Reds on Wednesday afternoon by sending ace righty Logan Webb (9-10, 3.51 ERA) to the mound against young righty Hunter Greene (2-5, 5.06 ERA). First pitch is 12:45 p.m.
To make room for Haniger, the Giants optioned outfielder Heliot Ramos to Triple-A Sacramento and designated speedy center fielder Bryce Johnson for assignment. Despite only slashing .208/.269/.354 this season, Ramos has shown occasional flashes of being a useful big league outfielder with strong exit velocity numbers. For Johnson, the hope for the organization is for him to clear waivers and possibly remain in the organization.
Steven Rissotto has covered the San Francisco Giants for SFBay since 2021. He is the host of RizzoCast, a baseball interview show featuring players, coaches, media and fans. He attends San Francisco State University and will major in Journalism and minor in education.