SAN FRANCISCO -- Since enduring a generation without a no-hitter, the Giants are generating this baseball rarity almost annually.
Chris Heston's no-hitter Tuesday night against the New York Mets in a 5-0 San Francisco win marked the fourth year in a row that a Giants pitcher accomplished the feat. Matt Cain threw a perfect game against Houston on June 13, 2012, and Tim Lincecum no-hit San Diego on July 13, 2013, and last June 25.
For a half-century, no other team had recorded a no-hitter for four years in a row. Of course, Sandy Koufax of the Los Angeles Dodgers did it by himself from 1962-65, and Nolan Ryan amassed four in three years (two in 1973 and one each in '74 and '75). That reflects the greatness of each man and the difficulty inherent in holding an opponent hitless.
Heston's gem was the 17th in Giants franchise history. For a while, they were stuck on 12. After John "The Count" Montefusco earned his slice of history with his Sept. 29, 1976, no-hitter at Atlanta, the Giants didn't throw another one until July 10, 2009. That's when Jonathan Sanchez, who had been sent to the bullpen to work on his pitching mechanics, rejoined the rotation and bamboozled the Padres on a festive Friday night at AT&T Park.
In the 33 years between Montefusco's and Sanchez's masterpieces, seven opponents no-hit the Giants: Los Angeles' Jerry Reuss (1980), Montreal's Charlie Lea (1981), Houston's Mike Scott (1986), Philadelphia's Terry Mulholland (1990), Los Angeles' Kevin Gross (1992), Florida's Kevin Brown (1997) and Philadelphia's Kevin Millwood (2003).
It was entirely fitting for Heston to enter no-hit lore at Citi Field, since the Giants' franchise was born in New York. He became the first Giant to pitch a no-hitter at their former home. Five members of the New York Giants threw no-hitters at home: Amos Rusie in 1891 against Brooklyn; George Wiltse against Philadelphia in 1908; Rube Marquard against Brooklyn in 1915; Jesse Barnes against Philadelphia in 1922 and Carl Hubbell against Pittsburgh in 1929. The great Christy Mathewson authored no-hitters in 1901 and '05, but both were on the road.
Of the Giants' previous 14 no-hit pitchers, six are in the Hall of Fame: Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry, Hubbell, Marquard, Mathewson and Rusie. Pitching no-hitters wasn't all they did. Heston is already 27, despite being a rookie; can he approach the achievements of these individuals? Then again, it doesn't really matter whether he fades into baseball oblivion like Sanchez or finds a place in the pantheon of Giants greats. What he did Tuesday belongs to history and to himself. Nobody can take that away.