The baseball gods giveth, and sometimes the baseball gods taketh away. San Francisco Giants righty Alex Cobb came oh-so-close to etching his name into baseball history on Tuesday night, holding the Cincinnati Reds through the first 26 outs. But then, just one out away from immortality, a clearly-gassed Cobb — who was pushing 130 pitches at that point — left a fastball out over the middle of the plate, and Reds infielder Spencer Steer lined it just over the outstretched glove of right fielder Luis Matos to spoil the party.
A strikeout of Elly De La Cruz later, and Cobb had to settle for a complete-game one-hitter in a crucial 6-1 win for a Giants team looking to climb back into an NL Wild Card spot. The 35-year-old punched out eight batters on the night, and he was in complete command for pretty much the entire evening. In fact, Cobb hadn’t even surrendered a walk until the first batter of the ninth inning; a fielding error by third baseman Casey Schmitt was the only thing preventing him from chasing a perfect game. He threw his splitter over 60 percent of the time and consistently put it where he wanted it, keeping Cincy’s lineup off-balance and hardly even allowing any hard contact.
The one real scare came with two outs in the eighth, when a blooper off the end of Will Benson’s bat looked like it was ticketed for the outfield grass — until center fielder Austin Slater swooped in with a spectacular diving catch.
This AMAZING catch by Austin Slater ends the 8th inning to keep Alex Cobb's no-hit bid alive! pic.twitter.com/hAJSRVHpYx— MLB (@MLB) August 30, 2023
Had Cobb finished the job, it would’ve instantly entered the annals of baseball’s greatest no-no-saving plays, but alas, it wasn’t to be. Other than that close call, Cobb was in cruise control, earning 13 groundouts and just five flyouts — until the ninth, when he walked the lead-off man and his command started wavering considerably. The righty was attempting to throw the 18th no-hitter in franchise history, and it would have been the first since Chris Heston pulled it off against the Mets back in 2015. Additionally, Cobb’s no-no would’ve represented the fifth of this Major League Baseball season, after Domingo German (Yankees), Framber Valdez (Astros), Michael Lorenzen (Phillies), and a combined effort by the Detroit Tigers earlier this year.