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50 awesome things about Chris Heston's no-hitter

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The annual tradition continues. Who had Chris Heston in the office pool?

Al Bello/Getty Images

Six years ago, Jonathan Sanchez threw a no-hitter. It was an unlikely, preposterous no-hitter, one that happened only because a 46-year-old pitcher got hurt. It was absolutely thrilling. The next day at work, I couldn't stop thinking about it, and I just started typing a list.

That list became 50 awesome things about that no-hitter. Someone made fun of me because the original headline was something like, "50 awesome things about Friday's no-hitter," and the joke was, "Thanks for including 'Friday.' I never would have known which one it was until you clarified."

Well, the Giants get a no hitter every year now. So, take that. Also, the tradition continues because you know what? No-hitters thrown by Giants sure seem to have a lot of awesome things about them.

Here we go. Here are 50 awesome things about Chris Heston's no-hitter:

1. It was Heston

The Giants don't just do the unlikely things. They aren't only a ball of waxy nonsense. Sometimes Buster Posey wins the MVP because he's one of baseball's best players. Sometimes Matt Cain throws a perfect game because he has his best stuff and the 2012 Astros weren't so great at hitting baseballs.

They still do the ball of waxy nonsense really, really well, though. Here's Chris Heston, about 24th on the depth chart at the end of 2013, about eighth on the depth chart at the end of 2014 and to start the season, throwing a no-hitter. It's fun when the stars do it. It's fun when Lincecum does it twice. But a completely random no-hitter has its very own charm, and this is the most random so far.

2. Heston is the first Giants rookie to throw a no-hitter since 1912

And that doesn't count. First, Jeff Tesreau pitched for the New York Giants, who were from all the way over there. Second, that was the Deadball Era, when they used dried chinchilla skulls instead of baseballs and played with bats made out of compressed skin. Third, pitchers from back then needed to have nicknames like "Fatty", "Queen Baby", or "Pops" for their statistics to be official.

3. Heston wasn't just a rookie: He's a veteran rookie.

Seems like an oxymoron, but it's not. Do you like Fresno? Maybe you do, maybe you don't. Chris Heston probably doesn't need to see it again, though. He's been on a lot of buses and planes that weren't exactly chartered or luxurious.

4. Heston was designated for assignment in 2013

Check that. He was designated for assignment because the Giants decided they were a Jeff Francoeur away from making the postseason in 2013. The Giants literally thought Jeff Francoeur was going to help them win more baseball games.

And noooooooobody wanted Heston, so the Giants got him back. I didn't even mention Heston's DFA on the site. It was non-news.

Heston took that horrible time, scraped it into a chip, and then placed the chip firmly on his right shoulder.

5. The no-hitter followed an awful start

Be honest, show of hands. After Heston was reconfigured and repurposed by the Pirates last week, how many of you were thinking, "Well, that was a good run, but I guess he just isn't a big-league pitcher"? I didn't write those words, but the thought crossed my mind.

Instead, it was like the third act of a feel-good movie. The kid who couldn't speak in front of the class just sang in front of the school! Or something. It was an easy-to-point-to moment for the next time you have those unbidden thoughts.

6. Heston had two hits

Heston had a hit with the bases loaded! Drove in a couple of runs. He was the first Giants pitcher to have two hits in a no-hitter since the last danged time.

Again, for clarification, the Mets did not have a hit.

7. The Giants got early runs

Note: If the Giants had won 1-0, that would also be an awesome thing. Can't not be awesome, these no-hitters. But early runs make no-hitters more fun, even if they don't make for better baseball games. I don't need good baseball games when I'm rooting for a no-hitter. The no-hitter is awesome enough.

8. The game was against a prospect demigod

Did you see Noah Syndergaard throw? He looked like he didn't know where his 100 mph fastball was going, but he usually did. That's freaky. People shouldn't be able to do that. There should be laws. I wanted to write my representative.

And then came Heston, throwing 10 mph slower, and getting the no-hitter. The contrast was stark. That sort of nonsense why you watch baseball, on one level or another.

9. The fourth inning against Syndergaard showed just how fragile no-hitters are

The Giants wouldn't have been able to roll the ball in better spots than the places some of their hits landed in the fourth. Choppers and doinks and nubs, almost all of them. They ended up not being the difference in the game, so they're mostly just a reminder of how fragile every no-hitter is.

They're mixtures of skill and luck. Sometimes they take good luck, sure. But sometimes they take the absence of bad luck, too. The fourth inning showed a vision of that bad luck.

10. It was in the middle of the MLB draft

Heston was a 12th-round pick, and if he were taken in the first round, prospect evaluators and fans would have melted. Reach! Look at the Giants reach!

And yet, he's in the majors, helping the Giants more than a good number of first-rounders have helped their teams. Sixteen of the first-rounders from Heston's draft year haven't made the majors yet, for example. Feels good to remember that baseball is nonsense before getting that worked up over the draft.

(Don't get me wrong: Drafts also give the world Bumgarners and Poseys. Variety is the spice of life.)

11. The Giants have thrown four no-hitters in four seasons

And five in seven seasons. It doesn't get old.

12. The Giants are the first team to throw a no-hitter in four straight seasons since the 1962-65 Dodgers

Comin' for you, Koufax. Joe Martinez is going to be back on a minor-league deal, and we're coming for you.

13. The Padres still don't have a no-hitter in their franchise history

Well, I didn't want to be such a jerk this early, but that sure fit in nicely with those last two. The Giants, again, have four no-hitters in the last four seasons. Uh, three of them against the Padres.

14. It was the first no-hitter against the Mets since 1993

I don't have any special enmity toward the Mets these days, but that's still impressive for some reason. And before that? Ed Halicki for the Giants in 1975.

15. The pitch count was low

There's nothing worse than watching a pitch count during a no-hitter. Because, yeah, the nervous people have a point, and it's possible to throw too many pitches. On the other hand, please be quiet, we're watching a no-hitter, here.

16. Like Bochy cared about the pitch count

Can't tell if this is old-school magic or reckless. Probably the former. Glad I'll never have to decide.

17. Matt Duffy and Joe Panik supported them with their weird home run chase

I might have put the over/under for their career homers at 10, and here they are, hitting home runs in support of Chris Heston's no-hitter and, ha ha ha ha, we really don't understand baseball, do we?

We do not.

18. Buster Posey called it

Not that it would have been a lesser no-hitter if another catcher had called it. I just like adding more feathers to Posey's cap. Dude has a lot of feathers.

19. Buster Posey framed it

Did you see the mitt snap those balls back into the strike zone? He's so very good at his job.

20. Buster Posey hugged it

That's probably related to #18 up there, but it's worth calling out. What do you think Buster Hugs feel like? Like you're on a cold mountaintop, shivering in the freezing wind, and the universe comes up and gives you a warm blanket and a cup of cocoa.

I should be able to tell you exactly what they're like, but, again, those stupid activist judges think they know what's best with their "orders."

21. This guy's superstition worked

dick

I mean, hey, whatever works, pal. I grew a beard during the World Series, and that's basically the same thing, except with less ball-grabbing and it wasn't on TV.

22. Superstitions are silly and they never work

I started writing the recap in the seventh inning because I'm not a silly caveman. And you're damned right I would have felt bad and deleted every last word if I had blown it, but I was willing to take that risk for selfish reasons.

23. Matt Duffy was talking to Heston in the dugout after the eighth inning

GET AWAY FROM HIM, YOU FOOL. DON'T YOU KNOW ABOUT SUPERSTITIONS?

My word, I hope he gets fined for that. Superstitions are very, very important.

24. Heston was talking to Duffy because of the baserunning screw-up

Heston forgot how many outs there were in the eighth inning, didn't advance on a single, and ended the inning. Even worse, because the throw got to second in time, the sixth run of the game didn't score.

That's alright. Heston wanted to get back on the mound. Just wanted to get back to work, you know? He's a cagey pitcher, alright, the mind of a veteran.

25. So many Giants fans

They kept showing the bus from Finnerty's. And was that an entire section for Joe Panik? Hey, Lindsey from the Internet was there. And of all the NFL players who could have attended the Mets game that night, one of them just happened to be a serious, die-hard San Francisco Giants fan.

26. My father-in-law wasn't there

My father-in-law has been to maybe two games in the last 15 years. I might be misremembering, but it could be as low as one game in the last 20.

That one game would have been the Matt Cain perfect game. He brings it up every time we talk. And guess who is in New York vacationing right now. All he had to do was buy tickets.

I would have never, ever, ever heard the end of that one.

27. Dillon Gee appeared in the game

Again, nothing against the Mets or Gee, but the Giants were reportedly interested in him this offseason. I wrote at least three posts about it.

I didn't mention Heston in any of those posts as being a reason why the Giants didn't need Gee. Because I never came close to thinking it. Gee makes me realize just how buried Heston really was, or at least how it seemed.

28. Heston got the ball back

The ball was on the field because he went in for the Buster Hug, as we all would have. But someone out there was thinking.

29. We get to wait a few weeks before thinking about the strike-zone karma

Because, ha hooo, that was a generous strike zone. From Brooks Baseball:

brooks


That's from the catcher's perspective in the ninth and, ooh, there are a lot of red squares outside that imaginary box. But you're not supposed to worry about that now! Worry about Heston's no-hitter, which had at least 50 awesome things.

30. OH, COME ON

It's not Jonathan Sanchez's dad, but it's pretty damned close. They grow up so quickly, don't they, Brad? I know the feeling.

31. Heston was the first pitcher to hit three batters in a no-hitter

I don't know if that's "awesome," but it sure is funny. And you know one of those guys was going to get a hit, so they deserved what was coming to them, I reckon.

32. The Warriors were in the NBA Finals

Everyone in the Bay Area figured they could ignore the Giants for a night. NOPE. Pay attention, jerks, got a no-hitter over here. Why are you listening to all of those squeaky shoes, please pay attention to this, would you?

33. I wasn't even supposed to be here, man

After writing about 6,000 words today, I called on one Mr. Bryan Murphy to help out with tonight, because I needed to sit in an empty bathtub and chew on some grout until the feeling in my fingers came back.

Except I added one caveat to my email.

bry bry

Even though I told myself I was going to take the night off from baseball, I stilllllll watched the game because I'm broken. And, man, am I glad I did. Good combo-jinx, Bryan!

lol exercise class

34. Heston and his stats

This is game score:

  • Start with 50 points.
  • Add one point for each out recorded, so three points for every complete inning pitched.
  • Add two points for each inning completed after the fourth.
  • Add one point for each strikeout.
  • Subtract two points for each hit allowed.
  • Subtract four points for each earned run allowed.
  • Subtract two points for each unearned run allowed.
  • Subtract one point for each walk.

And here are the top game scores in baseball this season:

  1. Chris Heston, 98 (6/9)
  2. Corey Kluber, 98 (5/13)
  3. Jacob deGrom, 91 (5/21)
  4. Dallas Keuchel, 90 (5/30)
  5. Chris Archer, 90 (5/27)
  6. Chris Heston, 89 (5/12)
  7. Clayton Kershaw, 89 (6/6)

Clayton Kershaw: Almost as good as Chris Heston.

35. Eleven strikeouts

Yes, no-hitters are a product of some luck. All of them, mostly. Strikeouts are mostly immune to luck, other than a generous call or two. Heston's stuff was working beautifully.

36. That sinker

Fooooooop, right back in the zone. Front door, back door, trap door ... you could see why it's one of the best pitches on the team.

37. That curveball

In the first inning, after falling behind in the count, Heston unfurled a physical freak of a curveball, and Lucas Duda was helpless. The inning ended, and I thought, "Boy, wish we could see that curveball more."

38. That deep breath he took right before he started his post-game interview

It's at CSN Bay Area's site, and it's perfect.

Headset on and exhaaaaaaale fooo.

I can't imagine throwing a single pitch in the strike zone in a situation like that. I picture getting to the sixth inning and then burying myself under the mound until I stopped shaking.

Heston didn't think like that. He wasn't nervous on the mound, and he pitched a no-hitter. But then after it was over, he got to think, what in the absolute heck, and exhale like that.

39. Heston struck out the side in the ninth

What a nasty way to end it, and he used a mix of sinkers and curves to do it. You can see a lot of the aforementioned highlights below because technology is awesome:

It's a good time to be a baseball fan.

40. You know Cain is going to harass Madison Bumgarner about this

"Hey, where's your no-hitter, Madison?"

"We'd let you play Stratego, but we kind of have a no-hitter-thrower tournament going."

"I'll bet you've thrown a no-hitter in Canada when you were there on vacation one summer. That totally happened, I believe you."

41. The look on Vogelsong's face when Cain tries it on him

/chainsaw noises

42. This Brandon Crawford play

Sublime. Amazing. Transcendent. Almost ordinary-difficult, and then that last-second hop. Every no-hitter has to have one of these.

43. Duane Kuiper's call of the game

I'll listen to the KNBR call tomorrow. For now, the one I'm stuck on is Kuiper's because it's the one I heard as it was all going on. It was perfect, as usual.

Bonus points were awarded for his continued use of "This is getting very interesting." I've never had another person wink directly at me through a television before.

44. Heston's first reaction was to bark at the moon

heston

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

45. This picture

heston

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

46. This pict ... wait, BELT SAVED THE BASEBALL

BELT

Al Bello/Getty Images

47. This picture

heston

Al Bello/Getty Images

"I love you, Skip."

"Come here, you very tiny person."

48. This picture, with Madison Bumgarner looking on

heston

Al Bello/Getty Images

49. That picture

heston

Al Bello/Getty Images

Buster Hugs and Lincecum Grins. That's probably a good signal that the night went just fine.

50. This era of Giants baseball, man

There are things you expect, and there are things you do not expect. We like to grouse during the bad times, but here's a reminder that we probably shouldn't grouse anymore, even if it comes naturally. This is such an amazing golden era of Giants baseball, and the no-hitters are an ornate frame around the beautiful print inside.

Chris Heston threw a no-hitter, everyone, and the Giants are occasionally ridiculous.