Through five innings in Southern California, Johnny Cueto was on cruise control. The San Francisco Giants number one started was mowing down the Los Angeles Dodgers, with a walk representing the only baserunner he’d allowed all game.
It was a stark contrast to the surprising demolition work the Giants were doing to Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw.
And then the sixth inning rolled around. Kiké Hernández led things off and hit a routine fly ball to to left field. The no-hitter would march on, it seemed.
But it did not roll on. The routine fly ball proved to be not-so-routine at all, as it got lost in the Los Angeles dusk. Hunter Pence didn’t see the ball — just literally didn’t see it at any point. He looked entirely helpless and hopeless, before the ball magically appeared about 30 feet behind him.
Hunter Pence ruins Johnny Cueto's no-hit bid by losing a fly ball. pic.twitter.com/oMM5EeMmGC— Chad Moriyama (@ChadMoriyama) August 9, 2020
Because baseball’s error rules are asinine, that was awarded a triple rather than an error, and just like that the no-hit bid was dead.
Cueto looked deflated and Pence looked demoralized, and after Austin Barnes grounded out, the Giants pitcher was left with about as rough of an earned run as you can imagine.
THIS is how Johnny Cueto's no-hitter was broken up— SB Nation (@SBNation) August 9, 2020
Hunter Pence couldn't find the ball @McCoveyChron pic.twitter.com/5HktEjtkpR
It unfortunately seemed to rattle Cueto, who gave up two walks and a three-run home run before getting taken out of the inning that he’d started with a no-hitter. He was visibly frustrated in the dugout, and quite understandably.
It was tragic, but also hilarious.
Baseball, everyone. Tragic, but also hilarious. There’s nothing quite like it.