The Associated PressHOUSTON (AP) — After losing 13 decisions in a row with Toronto, Aaron Sanchez was looking for a fresh start and a way to turn things around in his move to the Houston Astros.
But even with their history of improving the performance of pitchers, it would have been hard to imagine his Houston debut would go this well Saturday night.
Sanchez looked like a reinvented pitcher, throwing six stellar innings to start the Astros on a combined no-hitter in their 9-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners.
“It’s hard to come to a team and feel like you can contribute right away when they’re already so good,” Sanchez said. “So for tonight to end the way it did, these guys coming in behind me and doing their part, too ... I’m so happy.”
Sanchez was an All-Star in 2016 and led the American League in ERA, but he’d struggled badly this season and was leading the majors with 14 losses. However, three days after he was acquired from the Blue Jays at the trade deadline, the 27-year-old right-hander teamed with Will Harris, Joe Biagini and Chris Devenski to shut down Seattle.
“Just trying to have a good first impression,” said Sanchez, pulled by manager AJ Hinch after 92 pitches.
It was the second time in less than a month the last-place Mariners were no-hit by multiple pitchers. The Los Angeles Angels used two in a combined no-hitter July 12 against Seattle on a night when they honored late left-hander Tyler Skaggs by all wearing his No. 45 in their first home game since his death.
Sanchez (4-14) kept the Mariners off balance with a steady stream of fastballs in the mid-to-high 140s (kph) coupled with slow curves that often froze batters for strikes as he worked with veteran catcher Martin Maldonado, picked up by Houston in a trade with the Chicago Cubs earlier in the week.