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Giants righty Alex Cobb loses no-hit bid with two outs in the ninth inning

Cobb came oh-so-close to the fifth no-hitter in the Majors this season, but Spencer Steer spoiled the party with a clean double to right-center.

Alex Cobb of the San Francisco Giants pours water over his head after the eighth inning of their game against the Cincinnati Reds at Oracle Park on August 29, 2023 in San Francisco, California. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

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.

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.