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Diamondbacks’ Tyler Gilbert throws a no-hitter in his very first MLB start

With his family in the stands, Tyler Gilbert threw a truly memorable ho-hitter. (Matt York/Associated Press)

The Arizona Diamondbacks might have felt snakebit as the season headed into the stretch run. The team has the worst record in baseball and had the unfortunate experience of losing a no-hitter to MLB rules because it occurred in a seven-inning game earlier this summer.

Against that backdrop, Tyler Gilbert took the mound on Saturday and, in his first major league start, wrote baseball history, becoming only the fourth pitcher to throw a no-hitter in his first big league start. He is only the second pitcher to accomplish the feat since the 20th century began — and the last of those was by the St. Louis Browns’ Bobo Holloman in 1953. (The other two? Theodore Breitenstein in 1891 and Bumpus Jones the following year.)

“Amazing,” Gilbert said after shutting out the San Diego Padres at Chase Field (via ESPN). “It hasn’t hit me too much yet, but it’s really cool.”

It was electrifying and it might have had people wondering just who this guy is, too. Gilbert, 27, is a 6-foot-3 left-hander who was a sixth-round draft pick out of the University of Southern California by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2015. With the coronavirus pandemic shutting down minor league baseball in the summer of 2020, Gilbert threw to an old high school coach and worked for his father, an electrician, to earn a living.

After Saturday’s performance, he cracked, “I’d rather be doing this than pulling wires. No offense, Dad.”

Dad probably didn’t care. He had watched every pitch with rising emotion from the stands, along with Gilbert’s mother and his girlfriend, and afterward Greg Gilbert hugged his son and told him, “I knew you could do it,” the pitcher told MLB Network. And Gilbert’s response to his dad? “I told him to stop crying.”

Traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the winter of 2020, Gilbert was picked up by the Diamondbacks last December and sent to Class AAA, where he posted a 3.44 ERA with 50 strikeouts and 19 walks in 52⅓ innings.

Coming into Saturday’s game, he had pitched all of 3⅔ innings in four appearances and it seemed improbable that he might throw the eighth no-hitter in the majors this season, a figure that ties a record set in 1884. The final out of the five-strikeout, three-walk performance came on Gilbert’s 102nd pitch, a liner by Tommy Pham (recipient of each of those walks) to center fielder Ketel Marte.

MLB overhauled the minors this season. Some advocates say it hasn’t been enough.

The no-hitter is the Diamondbacks’ first since Edwin Jackson’s in 2010 and the team’s first at Chase Field. It was heady stuff and stunned Gilbert, who told MLB Network he was expecting to go “five or six innings.”

And who gets to keep the souvenir baseball from his no-no? “My old man,” Gilbert said with a grin.

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