Sean Newcomb thought his near no-hitter would be the story of the day.
Then he picked up his smartphone.
Newcomb on Sunday said he had forgotten about racist, homophobic and sexist tweets he sent as a teenager, but was quickly reminded a few minutes after speaking with the media about the Atlanta Braves’ 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
After seeing that he had been called out, the 25-year-old said it was his idea to bring reporters back to the clubhouse so he could address the issue before he went home.
The old tweets overshadowed his career-best moment.
“This is something obviously that can’t be happening,” he said. “I feel bad about it. I don’t mean to offend anybody. It was six, seven years ago. I didn’t mean anything by it and I definitely regret it, for sure.”
Newcomb came within one strike of pitching the first no-hitter by the Braves since 1994, denied when Chris Taylor sharply singled with two outs in the ninth inning.
“I was happy to get to that point and annoyed it was just a ground ball through the hole,” Newcomb said. “In hindsight, you’d like to throw a different pitch or something, but I will just take that and go forward.”
Newcomb had a 2-2 count when Taylor hit a hard grounder beyond the reach of diving third baseman Johan Camargo.
That came on the career-high 134th and final pitch by the lefty.
“I was crushed,” Braves catcher Kurt Suzuki said. “It felt like we lost, like that was a walk-off hit, but it happens. We were really close.”
Newcomb (10-5) exited to a thunderous standing ovation from the sellout crowd at SunTrust Park.
Manager Brian Snitker took the ball and gave it back to Newcomb as a keepsake — instead, Newcomb simply tossed it toward the Atlanta dugout as he walked off, wanting no souvenir of the near-miss.
Kent Mercker was the last Atlanta pitcher to throw a no-hitter, doing it 24 years ago at Dodger Stadium.
There have been three no-hitters in the majors this year.
Less than an hour later, Newcomb was talking about his offensive tweets.
“I just wanted to apologize for any insensitive material,” he said. “It was a long time ago, six or seven years ago, saying some stupid stuff with friends.”
In a statement posted on Twitter, the Braves said they had spoken to Newcomb, calling him “incredibly remorseful.”
“We find the tweets hurtful and incredibly disappointing, and even though he was 18 or 19 years old when posted, it doesn’t make them any less tolerable. We will work together with Sean towards mending the wounds created in our community,” the Braves said.
Newcomb struck out eight and walked one against the National League West leaders. He retired the first 15 batters before walking Yasiel Puig to begin the sixth. That was the only runner Newcomb permitted until the ninth.
Dan Winkler relieved Newcomb and gave up Manny Machado’s RBI single before ending it on Matt Kemp’s ground-out.
Nick Markakis homered, doubled and drove in three runs as the Braves snapped a four-game skid and pulled within 1.5 games of the National League East lead.
Ross Stripling (8-3) was subpar, allowing four runs, seven hits and one walk in four innings.
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