Rookie gives San Francisco fourth straight year with pitching feat
By Jamal Collier
NEW YORK -- After it was over, Chris Heston was not sure exactly how to react. He leaped off the mound toward the dugout and clapped his hands. Catcher Buster Posey flipped the ball to him on his way to congratulate the hurler, but Heston dropped it because he was already preparing for an embrace from his batterymate.
The 27-year-old rookie making just his 13th career start completed the first no-hitter of the 2015 season, freezing Mets second baseman Ruben Tejada for strike three on the outside corner and the final out of a 5-0 win, as those who remained from the 23,155 fans announced at Citi Field -- many of whom were clad in San Francisco orange -- erupted.
Of the 27 outs Heston recorded, just two were in the air -- Wilmer Flores' flyout to left field in the second inning and Michael Cuddyer's to right in the seventh. He did not allow a walk and struck out 11. His lone blemishes were three hit batters, the first time dating back to 1914 that more than two batters were plunked during a no-hitter.
It was the 17th no-hitter in franchise history and marked the fourth consecutive year a Giants starter has thrown one, with Heston joining Matt Cain (2012) and Tim Lincecum (2013 and 2014) as part of Giants lore.
Heston's performance was perhaps the most unlikely, considering as recently as July 2013, Heston was designated for assignment by the Giants, only to go unclaimed. He did not make the team out of Spring Training this season, only to be added to the rotation after Cain began the season on the disabled list.
Heston had shown flashes of brilliance at times this season, but had been mostly inconsistent before his history-making performance Tuesday night. Over his previous four outings, he had watched his ERA rise from 2.91 to 4.29, allowing 16 earned runs in his last 18 innings.
"Honestly, I think it's just a matter of him just trying to find his way right now," Posey said. "He's still kind of early in his career and establishing what kind of pitcher he's going to be. It's something we all go through when we first get here and trying to figure out how to be consistent. I think that's the challenge for every big league player, consistency."
Heston added: "I think it's just trying to forget it as soon as possible. Learn from the mistakes you made in the previous one and then on to the next one."
Heston never gave Giants manager Bruce Bochy the opportunity to even think about removing him from the game, with Heston using his two-seam fastball to induce ground balls and keep his pitch count down while continuing to fire first-pitch strikes throughout. He threw 110 pitches, 16 first-pitch strikes, and got to just four three-ball counts.
"I just think the way he was moving the ball both sides of the plate," said Posey, who has now caught three no-hitters in his career. "He was able to throw his offspeed [pitches] in pretty much any count he wanted to and just the movement on the fastball really just had them off balance all night."
While Heston was being mobbed on the mound by his teammates, first baseman Brandon Belt had the wherewithal to pick up the ball off the ground after Heston dropped it. After a beer shower and celebration by his teammates in the clubhouse, Heston got the ball back.
Amazing game by @Hesto23 tonight. So happy to share this historic moment with him.