Chris Heston's Surprise No-Hitter Was Pretty Historic

The San Francisco rookie's no-hitter seemed to come out of nowhere, but that doesn't mean it wasn't special.

Look, I'm not going to lie to you. Before last night, I knew little about Chris Heston, who throws pitched balls for the Giants of San Francisco.

He was mostly a stranger to me. I had never watched him pitch. Then, last night, he introduced himself.

Yes, this person named Chris Heston, who is a San Francisco Giants pitcher, hurled a no-hitter against the New York Mets. He struck out 11 batters and didn't walk anyone, although he did hit three of them. He capped off the no-no by striking out the side in the 9th, with the help of a generous strike zone from the home plate umpire.

But it truly was a masterpiece, and according to Bill James' Game Score, was the best-pitched game of the season so far this year. Here's where it ranks.

PlayerDateTeamOpponentResultGame Score
Chris Heston6/9/2015GiantsMetsW 5-098
Corey Kluber5/13/2015IndiansCardinalsW 2-098
Jacob deGrom5/21/2015MetsCardinalsW 5-091
Dallas Keuchel5/30/2015AstrosWhite SoxW 3-090
Chris Archer5/27/2015RaysMarinersL 0-390
Clayton Kershaw6/6/2015DodgersCardinalsW 2-089
Chris Heston5/12/2015GiantsAstrosW 8-189

Hey, look at the bottom of that list. It's that man Heston again! Apparently, he had a pretty awesome game back in May in which he struck out 10 Astros, walked no one and gave up just two hits. Heston is responsible for two of baseball's seven best-pitched games so far this year. You can probably win a bar bet with that one.

It was the fourth straight year a Giants pitcher has thrown a no-hitter, joining Matt Cain in 2012 and two from Tim Lincecum, one in 2013 and one last year. How does it rank among his colleague's no-nos?

PlayerDateTeamOpponentResultGame Score
Matt Cain6/13/2012GiantsAstrosW 10-0101
Chris Heston6/9/2015GiantsMetsW 5-098
Tim Lincecum7/13/2013GiantsPadresW 9-096
Tim Lincecum6/25/2014GiantsPadresW 4-092

Cain's no-hitter still ranks as one of the best-pitched games of all time, but Heston's gem Tuesday night is the second-best of the four San Francisco no-hitters since 2012.

Keep in mind, Heston is a 27-year-old rookie, so he's no kid. He was designated for assignment by the Giants in July of 2013 and is only in the starting rotation because of an injury to Cain. But he's been excellent all season, with a 6-4 record, a 3.77 ERA, 3.31 FIP and an fWAR of 1.2 in 12 starts (74.0 innings pitched). He is striking out 8.03 batters per nine innings and walking 2.19.

His formula for success has been obvious: strikeouts and ground outs. His 56.2% ground-ball rate is sixth-best in all of baseball, and his fly-ball rate of 23.0% is 10th-lowest. That's helping keep the ball in the yard and generate a larger number of easy outs.

Still, Heston made just his 13th career start last night (he also has two appearances as a relief pitcher last year), making him among a handful of Major League pitchers to throw a no-hitter in their 15th appearance or less.

His velocity doesn't blow anyone away, averaging about 89 miles per hour on his fastball, and he mixes in a slider, curveball and changeup as well. None of them jump off the page, but he had them all working for him last night at Citi Field in New York.

Will he ever do this again? Probably not. Baseball is littered with strange Major League no-hitters. Phil Humber threw one. Bud Smith threw one. Kent Mercker, Chris Bosio, Kevin Gross, Joe Cowley, the list goes on and on. No-hitters are cool, but they're freak occurrences, an odd thing that happens on a night when a pitcher's stuff is unusually good and the baseball angels are on his side.

Perhaps Heston's no-hitter will be remembered the same way years from now. But today, the day after he made history, it's going down as the best-pitched game of the 2015 season so far.