Programming note: Giants-Mets coverage starts today at 3:30 p.m. with Giants Pregame Live on CSN Bay Area.
NEW YORK — Nobody had to dive for a fly ball Tuesday, or reach into the stands for a pop-up. There were no leaping infielders or glove-flips or barehanded scoops. This was, by no-hitter standards, a relatively easy one, but the Giants still pointed to one play Tuesday that may have made the difference.
Brandon Crawford got a tough hop on Eric Campbell’s grounder to the hole in the eighth, but he easily made the play, getting the 24th of 27 outs for Chris Heston.
“That was probably the toughest play of the game,” Crawford said, noting that there weren't many tests. “It was an easy no-hitter, which is pretty hard to do. There weren’t too many balls squared up and that says a lot about Heston’s stuff.”
Heston also pointed to that play as the only one that even seemed difficult, but he never worried that his bid for a no-hitter was in trouble. He was walking back to the dugout as the ball approached Crawford.
“He’s so good over there and anything over in his area, he’s going to make the play,” he said. “There wasn’t too much doubt in it.”
The rest of the night showed how solid the Giants infield has become. On a night when the Mets repeatedly struggled to turn double-plays, the Giants got one quick out after another on the ground. Crawford made three plays, second baseman Joe Panik made three and third baseman Matt Duffy made three throws over to first. Brandon Belt handled a couple of chances and also made a nice scoop on one of Duffy’s throws. Heston handled his one chance cleanly and Duffy and Panik combined for a double play.
Add it up and you’ve got 14 of 27 outs coming on the ground.
“He keeps us on our toes and he keeps us ready,” Crawford said. “He kept us on our toes and let us make plays. It was fun to play behind him."
These nights are becoming a yearly thing for the Brandons and Panik was in the lineup for Tim Lincecum’s no-hitter last year, fielding the final out. This, however, was the first no-hitter Duffy has seen in person.
“You definitely have some nerves there in the ninth inning,” he said. “But I was just so excited for Chris.”
Heston didn’t know quite what to do when the night was over, taking a quick step toward third, and he missed the final-out ball when it was tossed back to him (Belt picked it up). Duffy understood exactly what was going through Heston’s mind.
“I don’t know if he knew how to react, but I didn’t know how to react,” he said. “I don’t know what I did.”
Thanks to Heston, the Giants are the second team in MLB history to throw a no-hitter in four straight seasons. The Dodgers did it from 1962-65 but Sandy Koufax had all four. The last four seasons also happen to be my first four on the beat. Coincidence? I mean, probably. These never get old, though, so here are a bunch of leftover notes from Hesto’s no-no ….
--- Per Elias, Heston is the first pitcher since Koufax in 1965 to finish a no-hitter with three straight strikeouts. Koufax was perfect that night. Also per Elias, Heston is the first pitcher since Nolan Ryan in 1973 to throw a no-hitter after failing to complete four innings in his previous start.
The Giants are now fourth with 17 no-hitters, trailing just the Dodgers (22), White Sox (18) and Red Sox (18).
This was Buster Posey’s third no-hitter as a catcher (Hector Sanchez had Tim Lincecum last year). He’s the third catcher (joining Bill Carrigan and Yogi Berra) with three no-hitters and three World Series titles.
--- If you missed it, my game story on Calm Chris and the way he showed teammates that nothing was bothering him as the final three outs approached. And here’s my story on Heston’s Little League coach choosing the perfect (and seriously, near-perfecto) night to watch Heston pitch in the big leagues for the first time. Heston’s girlfriend was also at the park.
And finally, a quick news update on Gregor Blanco and right field. It’s absolutely bizarre that Blanco was hit by a Brandon Belt throw a year after Belt was hit by a Marco Scutaro throw. Bochy said the Giants would have another outfielder up here tonight if the tests showed a concussion. Maxwell, by the way, said this wasn't his only memorable game after being put in the lineup right before first pitch. He was a late addition for the Nationals on Sept. 12, 2009 and ended up hitting two homers.
--- It’s always interesting to see how a manager handles the mental part of this, and in 2012 Bruce Bochy had Shane Loux warm up in the batting cage because he didn’t want Matt Cain to see a pitcher getting loose. In that respect, Citi Field was helpful. Santiago Casilla and Javier Lopez warmed up in the ninth, but the visiting bullpen at Citi is 430-ish feet away and behind a tarp, so Bochy likely didn’t have to worry about Heston seeing anything.
--- Bochy on Heston: “He has stepped up and really softened the blow of losing a Cain and Peavy. If you go back to spring training, Chris pitched well enough to make the club. I love the way he threw the ball this spring. He really earned a spot but we didn’t have a spot.”
Last night was not the time or the place, but today part of the discussion will turn to: What the heck do they do with Heston if Cain and Peavy are ready in the next month? It would have been understandable to option him when he went through that inconsistent stretch. But now?
--- Check Jayson Stark’s Twitter account for a great anecdote about Heston’s agent and Bobby Evans.
--- The Giants have five no-hitters since drafting Madison Bumgarner, and he doesn't have any of them. I'm sure that never comes up in the clubhouse. I've written many times that it's a matter of when, not if for Bumgarner, but last night showed just how random these nights can be.
--- And finally, the back page of the New York Daily News. It’s phenomenal.