Sport

Tyler Gilbert makes first MLB start at age of 27 … and throws no-hitter

Tyler Gilbert, an aspiring electrician, delivered a shocker for the history books on Saturday night as he threw a no-hitter on his first big league start.

Gilbert struck out Trent Grisham and Ha-Seong Kim in the ninth inning before Tommy Pham lined out to center fielder Ketel Marte to clinch a 7-0 victory for the Arizona Diamondbacks over the San Diego Padres.

Joyous Diamondbacks players threw their gloves in the air and rushed the mound, mobbing the 27-year-old, who had spent six seasons in the minor leagues. He had pitched three times in relief since making his major league debut earlier this month.

“Crazy,” Gilbert said. “It’s not going to hit me for probably another day. I don’t know what just happened.”

Among those celebrating the first Diamondbacks no-hitter at home was Gilbert’s family. They were also on hand for his debut in relief earlier this month. Gilbert didn’t play baseball in 2020 after the minor league season was wiped out by the pandemic. He spent the summer learning to be an electrician from his dad, making some extra money while occasionally crawling around attics and in between walls.

“I’d rather be doing this than pulling wires,” Gilbert said with a grin. “No offense, Dad.”

It was a stunning performance for the Diamondbacks, who have the worst record in the big leagues this season. It’s the third no-hitter in franchise history and first since Edwin Jackson in 2010.

Gilbert struck out five and walked two on Saturday. The sixth-round pick out of Southern California in 2015 had spent his entire career in the minor leagues until being called up a few weeks ago. He was making his fourth appearance.

“It was weird, I wasn’t nervous at all,” Gilbert said. “I felt like I should have been. I don’t know why. I just kept going out there and doing my thing. I was really nervous before the game, leading up to the game. But after the three-pitch eighth inning, I was like, ‘This is possibly going to happen.”’

Gilbert’s no-hitter was the eighth of the MLB season, matching a mark set in 1884, the first year overhand pitching was allowed. Most of the gems thrown this season were before MLB cracked down on the use of sticky foreign substances by pitchers in late June.

It’s been a brutal series for the Padres, who are struggling to keep up in the playoff race.

“You’ve got to tip the cap to Gilbert. It was obviously a special night for him,” Padres manager Jayce Tingler said. “We’ve been a part of two of them this year, and it’s a lot funner being on the other side, that’s for sure. Frustrating night. The balls we did hit hard were right at guys or they made really good plays or fly balls were on the track.”

The last pitcher to accomplish the feat before Gilbert was Bobo Holloman of the St Louis Browns in 1953. Bumpus Jones also did it in his major league debut with the Cincinnati Reds in 1892, and Theodore Breitenstein threw one in his first start for the Browns in 1891.