In a Year Without Hitler, Tyler Gilbert’s Was Still Stunning


In the early days of baseball, the sport was mostly batting, field and floor running testing. The pitcher was the fielder in the middle of the diamond who subtly threw the ball into home plate – as if throwing a horseshoe.

In 1884, the National League finally allowed a 50-foot by 6-foot by 6-square-foot throw from the plate. This was the season when Charles Radbourn, nicknamed Old Hoss, had 678⅔ batting hits and played 73 full games. It was also the last season with eight hits over the decades.

Now there is another one. On Saturday night in Arizona, the Diamondbacks’ Tyler Gilbert returned without a hit. 7-0 win over San Diego Padres at the start of his career. Beat-up pitcher Joe Musgrove scored the first of this season’s eight hitters against the Texas Rangers in April.

In between, Chicago White Sox’s Carlos Rodon, Baltimore Orioles’ John Means, Cincinnati Reds’ Wade Miley, Detroit Tigers’ Spencer Turnbull, Yankees’ Corey Kluber and four Chicago Cubs pitchers got together. (Zach Davies, Ryan Tepera, Andrew Chafin and Craig Kimbrel).

The top six gems – from Musgrove to Kluber – all preceded Major League Baseball playing solidly. enforce rules against foreign matter on the ball. Many shooters used grips to increase the return of their shots, making them even harder to hit.

Gilbert, then, is the first non-striker in the entire game since the referees began checking gloves, caps and belts. (Cleveland’s Triston McKenzie nearly did so in Detroit on Sunday before allowing a single in the eighth innings after retiring his first 23 batters.)

By Saturday, major league batting average was still only .242, the lowest among the majors since 1968. So despite the pressure of cheating, it seemed like it was only a matter of time before someone tied the season record. Surprise, it was the pitcher that did it.

Gilbert, 27, left-handed, has only appeared in three relief matches this month. He was promoted with a strong showing in Class AAA for the Diamondbacks, who picked him up from the Dodgers in the minor league Rule 5 draft in December.

Gilbert never stepped in for the Dodgers, who bought him for outfielder Kyle Garlick from the Philadelphia Phillies in February 2020 because the pandemic canceled his minor league season. Gilbert wasn’t invited to the Dodgers’ alternate practice pitch, so he improvised at his home in Northern California, pitching with his former high school coach, and earning some money while doing it.

“I was also doing electrical work with my dad,” Gilbert said in a video press conference on Saturday. “It was fun, I was just trying to make ends meet, but it made me realize how much I missed baseball while on vacation that summer.”

Gilbert is not a hard shooter; speedball averages 89.5 miles per hour. However, he effectively used his cutter to play his two-stitch sinker and sustained a rare weekend for the Diamondbacks, who were the major league’s worst 38-80 until Saturday. Dulton Varsho, who caught the unhitter, finished Friday’s game by points.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had better days in a row in my career,” Varsho said. “It’s been a journey.”

Varsho said he was particularly happy to have Gilbert at Chase Field in Phoenix to witness his family’s masterpiece. The ballpark has been home to the franchise since its inception in 1998, but Gilbert was the first Diamondbacks pitcher to pitch there. The previous two of the team had hit the road – Randy Johnson’s excellent game in Atlanta in 2004 and Edwin Jackson’s eight-hiking, 149-step adventure in Tampa Bay in 2010.

Gilbert needed 102 pitches on Saturday and the team’s manager Torey Lovullo said he wanted to keep him at 85, while Gilbert gave him the chance to finish after passing eighth.

“It was weird: I wasn’t nervous at all,” Gilbert said. “I felt like I had to be. I don’t know why. I just went out and kept doing my job. I was really nervous until we got to the game, but after that three-step eighth inning, I said, ‘Okay, that’s probably going to happen.’ . ”

He started the ninth by taking his fourth and fifth innings, then faced the Padres’ leading man, Tommy Pham. Pham was the only Padre to reach base against Gilbert, who marched him three times. This time, Pham swung away on the first shot and threw a fly into the center, which Ketel Marte caught to end the game.

The Padres hit several balls hard, and Gilbert’s five hits have been matched by the fewest shooters since 2013. But overall – after being knocked off twice by other teams, never on the top contenders list, and being missed last season – Gilbert was due to some good luck.

“That’s what the baseball game is about,” Lovullo said. “As long as you’re in uniform, as long as you make the right effort, anything is possible.”

Even an achievement that has not been achieved in 68 years. The last shooter to miss on his first start, the 1953 St. It was Bobo Holloman of the Louis Browns. Two more did this in the 19th century: Bumpus Jones of the 1892 Reds and Ted Breitenstein of the 1891 Browns in the first American Association to be recognized as a major league.

Bobo, Bumpus, Breitenstein – and now Tyler Gilbert, an electrician’s apprentice, is gone.

“I’d rather do this than pull the wires,” Gilbert said. “No offense dad.”


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