San Francisco Giants Rewind: Matt Moore’s Near No-Hitter Against LA

Aug 25, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Matt Moore (45) speaks with manager Bruce Bochy (15) he came up one out short of a no hitter giving up a single to Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager (5) in the ninth inning of the game at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 25, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Matt Moore (45) speaks with manager Bruce Bochy (15) he came up one out short of a no hitter giving up a single to Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager (5) in the ninth inning of the game at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /

Rewind and look back at one of the San Francisco Giants’ best performances of the season, Matt Moore’s near no-hitter against the Dodgers.

Baseball’s offseason has started slowly, and the beginning of the 2017 season is still many moons away. With that in mind, let’s go back and re-live some of the San Francisco Giants’ best performances from the 2016 season. First on the docket is Matt Moore‘s near no-hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers on August 25th.

Moore took the mound for his fifth start with the Giants, and only his second working with future Gold Glove catcher Buster Posey. The Giants needed some kind of spark from Moore, having lost the first two games of the series against Los Angeles and falling three games back in the division. Moore was coming off a subpar start against the New York Mets, where he gave up three runs on five hits and three walks in only five innings.

Control had been a big issue for Moore in his early starts with the Giants, but he and Posey were on the same page right from the word “go”. His first pitch to Enrique Hernandez was a 91-mile-per-hour fastball that hit his catcher right in the glove for strike one. His next pitch was a well-located curveball down and in, which Hernandez could only dribble foul down the left field line. When Moore went back to the fastball up and away, Hernandez could only chase and head back to the dugout after striking out on three pitches. That set the tone for the entire night.

Moore established both his fastball and his curveball in the first inning. He dotted the corners with fastballs that reached 94 and twirled the breaking ball both in and out of the strike zone. A flyout to center field and a jam-shot groundball to second base ended the inning on 14 pitches.

Justin Turner worked Moore hard to start the second, but rolled out to third base on the 12th pitch of his at-bat. The next batter was Adrian Gonzalez, and he almost wiped out the no-hitter before it even really started. He stroked the first pitch into the left-center field gap, but Denard Span got on his horse and chased it down, grabbing it just above his shoestrings for the second out. Moore allowed his first baserunner on a walk to Yasmani Grandal, but worked around it by getting Rob Segedin to ground into a fielder’s choice.

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The third inning went much smoother as Moore went through the Dodgers in order with his second and third strikeouts of the night. He also began to establish his changeup, giving hitters a third different speed to think about. Moore threw 11 pitches, getting closer to the expected 15 per inning at 48.

In the top of the fourth, the Giants gave Moore the lead he would carry the entire way by putting up a trio of runs. Moore responded by working through the next three innings without an issue, using all three of his offerings to get outs in 25 pitches. His fourth strikeout came as the first out in the fourth inning when Howie Kendrick couldn’t make contact on a big curveball. That hook claimed another victim in the sixth, as Joc Pederson was frozen by the pitch on the inner part of the plate for the second out.

The seventh inning presented something of a problem for Moore as his command wasn’t as sharp. He needed eight pitches to retire Kendrick to lead off the frame, and then walked Corey Seager on seven pitches. Moore fell behind 2-0 to the next batter Turner, but battled back and got some help from his catcher and home plate umpire Sam Holbrook. Moore threw a 2-2 changeup that looked high, but Posey framed it well and baited Holbrook into punching out Turner. Gonzalez also gave Moore a gift, grounding out on the first pitch to end the frame.

Moore fell behind in the pitch count department with a 22-pitch seventh, and entered the eighth with 95 throws. He didn’t help his case by issuing a four-pitch walk to start the eighth. The bullpen got to work as Moore threw his 100th pitch for a ball, and Posey went out for a quick talk. Despite his fastball command disappearing out of nowhere, Moore went back to the heater and got back in the zone. Chase Utley fouled a lot of pitches away, but finally swung through a changeup down and in for Moore’s seventh, and final, strikeout.

Charlie Culberson gave a similar battle, but a fastball with cutter movement got him to bounce back to Moore for a fielder’s choice and the second out. Moore fell behind again to Pederson, who lined a 2-0 fastball down the middle into center field. Span didn’t have to go very far to track this one down.

Moore walked off the mound with 119 pitches on his shoulder. The zero still remained in the hit column.

Despite already having thrown a career-high in pitches, Moore went back out for the ninth with a shot at etching his name in the record books.

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Hernandez led off the final inning, and Moore continued his pattern by going all off-speed to the good fastball hitter. He got Hernandez to chase once in the dirt, but left the next curveball up over the plate. The Dodgers’ hitter gave it a ride into center field, but Span was there to play Superman again. He went into a slide to snare the sharp line drive and keep the no-hitter alive. All Moore could do was clap his hands as Span went sliding through the grass.

As the fastball command Moore had early in the game continued to elude him, he relied more and more on the off-speed pitches. Kendrick swung early through two changeups before grounding a third to Eduardo Nunez.

One out left. 130 pitches down, how many to go?

Seager stood between Moore and history. Moore’s first pitch changeup bounced in the dirt for ball one. The second pitch was a curveball, and Seager was way out in front as his swing came up empty. The third pitch of the at-bat, and 133rd of the night, was a 94-mile-per-hour fastball way in on Seager’s hands. Moore made a great pitch, and all Seager could do was fight it off.

The contact was soft, a bloop into right field coming off the thin part of the bat. Joe Panik raced back. Gorkys Hernandez raced in. The ball dropped steadily as two players chased as hard as they could.

Neither man would get there. The duck snort landed feet in front of Hernandez. That zero was erased, replaced by a one. It was just a harmless single with two outs in the ninth inning of a four-run game, but it still hurt.

Manager Bruce Bochy wasted no time getting Moore after the hit. Posey met Moore first and the battery mates exchanged smiles, a fist bump, and a quick hug before the skipper could take the ball. Brandon Crawford patted the hurler on the back, and Brandon Belt gave him a quick butt tap as he walked off. Despite being in hostile territory, Moore was given a standing ovation at Dodger Stadium, as even the enemy fans realized how phenomenal the performance was.

Santiago Casilla was called upon to clean things up, and needed just one pitch to get Turner to pop out to Panik. Moore’s first win as a Giant was clinched.

For the first time since donning his new uniform, Moore had all three of his pitches working at the same time. He commanded his offerings well, bouncing back nicely after walking 17 batters in his first 23 innings as a Giant.

This game was a prelude of things to come for Moore. He would match his career-high with 11 strikeouts twice in the month of September. He was on the mound for game 162 and threw eight innings of one-run ball against the very same Dodgers to clinch a postseason spot for the Giants. He threw an absolute beauty in game four of the NLDS against the Chicago Cubs.

Next: Two Giants Pitchers Get Cy Young Votes

Moore quickly became a great asset for the Giants. With three more years left with the team, he has plenty of time to continue crafting his legacy in the Bay Area.