NEW YORK – When Raisel Iglesias arrived back in the clubhouse after finishing off the Mets, he learned about what had captivated the baseball world, and especially those at Citi Field, on Saturday afternoon and evening: The Braves were throwing a no-hitter.

“To be honest, I didn’t know the no-hitter was happening,” Iglesias said through interpreter Franco García.

The Braves fell one out shy of their first no-hitter in over 30 years: With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, J.D. Martinez hit a solo home run to right-center field. No no-no.

Instead, the Braves settled for a 4-1 victory that sealed a series win over the Mets at Citi Field. Atlanta is 24-12 after flirting with history up until the end.

It went from Max Fried to Joe Jiménez to Iglesias. The closer recorded the first two outs, but as they say, the 27th out is the most difficult of the game.

Despite the Braves fielding Hall of Famers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz – and other terrific arms – their last no-hitter still belongs to Kent Mercker, who no-hit the Dodgers on April 8, 1994.

Five observations:

1. In the dugout and bullpen, the Braves watched as they waited for history. So, too, did the baseball world.

Martinez stepped into the batter’s box to face Iglesias. You could feel the nervous energy at Citi Field, a ballpark full of fans who didn’t want to witness such a feat.

The two in the spotlight shared a commonality: They weren’t thinking about what hung in the balance – Iglesias because he didn’t know, Martinez because he chose not to focus on that.

“Honestly, I’m a pitcher who doesn’t put too much stock into that,” Iglesias said. “I don’t want to put any unnecessary pressure on myself when I go out on the mound. I want to go out there, I want to have fun, I want to enjoy myself any time that I’m pitching, so that’s sort of my mentality when I go out.”

Martinez told reporters this: “Obviously, we didn’t want to get no-hit, but in that situation, in that moment, I don’t know – I’m just thinking about my plan and my game and what I’m trying to do in that at-bat off Iglesias. You can’t get caught up in all that. Then you start putting all this excess pressure on yourself – for what? You get no-hit? Who cares? Tomorrow’s another day.”

And perhaps it’s better not to know, right?

“Yeah, I think it’s better. I think it’s better not to know, just because I feel like then, with that, comes unnecessary pressure that you put on yourself and then you pitch differently,” Iglesias said. “You sort of put that pressure on yourself to say, ‘Oh, I don’t want to mess this up for the starter who went out there.’”

Catcher Travis d’Arnaud – whose Mets were once no-hit by then-Nationals ace Max Scherzer – realized Fried had a no-hitter in the seventh inning. Two innings later, Iglesias’ four-seam fastball leaked out over the plate.

Poof.

History no more.

“I knew all the way until the last out, and J.D. put a good swing on it,” d’Arnaud said.

And after the game, the catcher jokingly confessed something.

“I was looking (at the scoreboard),” d’Arnaud said. “That’s probably why it didn’t happen.”

Atlanta Braves' Raisel Iglesias pitches during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the New York Mets, Saturday, May 11, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

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2. When pitching coach Rick Kranitz visited the mound with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, he told Max Fried the next batter would be his final one. Fried, who was at 104 pitches, understood. He is super competitive, but he’s also intelligent and possesses a team-first mindset.

“Especially at this part of the season, and kind of having a big picture of what we want to do, throwing 140, 150 pitches might not be the best,” Fried said. “Just always keeping things in perspective and knowing that when I give myself that opportunity, I gotta be a lot more economical with my pitch count, and just more efficient and attacking hitters.”

Fried threw seven no-hit innings. But he, manager Brian Snitker and everyone else had accepted something before he even exited: Fried wasn’t going to be able to finish the no-hitter. His pitch count had climbed too much. Fried walked three batters. He got into deep counts.

So he walked off the mound after seven innings and 109 pitches. He went into the dugout and through the tunnel to the clubhouse. He did his postgame recovery, then went back into the dugout and spent the ninth inning supporting his teammates as they chased one of baseball’s rarest accomplishments.

“Frankly, I was not very good with my command at all,” Fried said. “I was just shooting a lot of pitches all over. I felt like, for a hitter or two throughout there, just kind of lost it a little bit. When you’re going 3-2 on a lot of guys and you’re walking three or four, you’re probably not gonna be able to efficiently get through nine.”

Fried finished with five strikeouts. The Mets put 16 balls in play against him, and five left the bat at over 100 mph. But they went toward Braves gloves.

The day ended with an addition to a brutal category: The almost no-hitters. Or, as Michael Harris II put it, a “26-outer.”

In 2018, Sean Newcomb was an out shy of no-hitting the Dodgers. In 2017, Mike Foltynewicz took a no-no into the ninth inning, but Matt Olson – recognize that name? – ruined it with a leadoff homer. In 2015, Shelby Miller was one out away from a no-hitter.

“That’s more nerve-wracking than any playoff game, is when you got a guy throwing a no-hitter,” Snitker said. “The pitch count gets up there and you gotta (think about) how far you want to take it, and things like that.”

But Fried clearly is locked in after two rough starts to begin the season. He’s now had three starts of at least six no-hit innings: Saturday, his shutout of Miami on April 23 and his outing in Seattle on April 29.

His ERA over his last six starts: 1.79. And his ERA this season is down to 3.57.

3. Asked what stands out most about this run for Fried following those two poor outings, d’Arnaud said: “That he knows he’s never out of it. Even if you look back to the World Series in 2021, he got his foot stepped on and that’s when he woke up. Some guys need to be punched in the face. Some guys, that’s just the way it goes. He responds well, and it shows throughout his career.”

As Harris sprinted back toward the center-field wall on a ball in the seventh inning, he knew what was at stake.

“I figured out in the fifth inning when I looked back at the scoreboard and kind of realized that I don’t remember anybody getting a hit,” he said. “Kind of just kept it to myself and knew I had to try to go get anything in the air, just try to lay out for anything and, I guess still be smart at the same time, know the situation. I definitely knew and had to go get it.”

He did. He went all the way back to the warning track and snagged Martinez’s hard liner before bumping up against the wall. He preserved the no-hitter.

He also helped the Braves breathe while it unfolded. Harris entered Saturday hitless in his last 29 at-bats, but went 3-for-3 with a run-scoring single.

“The biggest thing I can say about Michael is his demeanor and how he allows himself to weather storms and get through tough spots,” Snitker said. “He’s got a great attitude and take on what’s going on in this game.”

Atlanta Braves' Ronald Acuña Jr., center, hubs Jarred Kelenic, left, and Michael Harris II after a baseball game against the New York Mets, Saturday, May 11, 2024, in New York. The Braves won 4-1. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

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4. If nothing else, this game put into perspective how difficult it is to throw a no-hiiter.

“Baseball’s a crazy game,” Fried said. “Personally, I felt like I threw the ball better in L.A., but the results weren’t as there. A lot of the times, you need a lot of the stuff to go your way. Fortunately, for me and for us, those balls landed in guys’ mitts and we were able to get off and put up some runs.”

The Braves walked six batters. They allowed two hits.

Fried gave it to Jiménez. He kept it going and passed it to Iglesias.

But everything must go right.

This would’ve been the 15th no-hitter in Braves history. Instead, Braves Country will keep waiting.

5. Harris spoke for Braves country in his response to a question about how crazy it is that the Braves – with their pitching greats – have not had a no-hitter since 1994.

“Gosh,” he said with an exasperated tone. “Ah. One out. Had to be J.D.”

In Seattle recently, Fried threw six no-hit innings before handing it over to the bullpen. The no-hit bid ended in the eighth, with a single off Jiménez.

On Saturday, the 2024 Braves almost wrote another entry into the franchise’s history books.

Almost.

“It’s pretty cool to be part of a almost (no-hitter), a 26-outer,” Harris said. “Hopefully this season, or in the near future, we can squeeze one out.”

Stat to know

1999 - Fried is the first Braves pitcher with two starts of at least six no-hit innings in a three-start span in a single season since Kevin Millwood in 1999, according to MLB’s Sarah Langs, who cited Elias Sports Bureau for the research.

Quotable

“Especially with all the Hall of Famers that were running through there, and guys with electric stuff. Yeah, they aren’t easy. So many things that gotta go right.” - Snitker on the Braves being without a no-hitter for over 30 years, with so many terrific pitchers coming and going since the last one

Up next

Bryce Elder will start Sunday’s series finale as the Braves go for the sweep. Luis Severino will pitch for the Mets. The game, which is on ESPN, begins at 7 p.m.