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Bewildering Sanchez One-Hits Cards Over 7-Plus

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Nats take NLCS Game 1, 2-0

MLB: NLCS-Washington Nationals at St. Louis Cardinals
Hat-tip.
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

It was awesome the Cards had another Game 1 to play!
It was horrible the offense forgot to show up.

With the NLDS Division Series trophy safely tucked away in Busch Stad—waitthere isn’t a Division Series trophy?! I probably knew that but probably forget every year. There should be a trophy...

With a trophy memories from a hard-fought Division Series victory safely tucked away in their trophy case memories, the Cards earned the right to turn another page in this already deeply satisfying season, starting the next chapter titled, NLCS: The Ghost of Devil Magic Past.

The one and only time the Washington franchise won a Division Series was the strike-shortened split season of 1981, when they played in a whole ‘nuther country as the Montreal Expositions (named after the World’s Fair Expo in 1967, the team’s inaugural season).

Fast-forward to 2012, the last post-season match-up between the Cards and Nats in the 2012 NLDS. Then, the Hall of Cardinals Lore inducted Pete “F-In’” Kozma, as he was—and still is—known to Natty fans, due to his decisive Game 5 heroics.

But Pete produced much more than just in Game 5. Throughout that series, he exemplified all the elements you need from a position player for post-season success. Show ‘em, Pete...

Defense - Well, the Cards had no errors tonight.

No, Wait—GOOD Defense (Rectifying Bad Defense) - Not a factor tonight.

Baserunning - Cards had 2 steals that produced nothing.

Power Hitting - Um, how ‘bout nearly NO-hit?

A Kool Head (and Shoulders) Under Pressure - Cards’ hitters didn’t get IN pressure situations.

CLUTCH HITTING!!! - Um, no.

If only the Cards had played like 2012 NLDS Koz.


THE BIRD’S-EYE VIEW

Looking to help their teams make new memories, a pair of righties went at it: Miles Mikolas vs. Anibal Sanchez.

I’d say Sanchez made the most memories, throwing 7.2 no-hit innings before giving up a single, then getting pulled. The 14-year veteran mixed multiple pitches effectively and had the Cards in swing mode all night, unable to square up anything. His repertoire included 28% four-seamers (topping out at around 90 mph), 23% splitters, 19% sinkers, and 18% cutters. The remaining 11% were 4 curves and 7 change-ups. I’d say that’s mixing your pitches, yo.

Meanwhile, while not throwing anything near a no-hitter, Miles pitched well enough himself, wiggling out of thorny situations all night. Over his 6 innings, the Nats had at least one baserunner in every inning but the third. Ultimately, he “scattered” 7 hits, but managed to leave the team down just 1-0.

He was sharp with his fastball early on but got burned in the second inning on mistake off-speed pitches, giving up two doubles to give the Nats the early 1-0 lead. In fact, the Nats’ first 5 hits through 5 innings were on off-speed pitches.

The Cards came out swinging aggressively. Did they not know Sanchez had the 11th-worst walk rate (8.2%) this season? They had nothing to show for their swinging ways early on, with Sanchez retiring the first 10 Cards straight before Kolten walked in the third.

The Nats tacked on an insurance run in the 7th, produced by a triple and a single, in an inning that saw the Cards use 3 relievers.

While the Nats peppered Busch stadium with line drives all night, the Cards hit weak pop-ups and fly-outs. Plus, the Nats applied their offense’s calling card of producing runs with 2 outs, as both of their runs scored in that situation.

Shildt busted out the intentional walk stick in a big way tonight, calling for three of them. None of those runners scored, so there’s that.

At least the Cards were not no-hit, thanks to pinch-hitter Jose Martinez’ 2-out single in the 8th. Their only other baserunners came on one walk and 2 hit batsmen. That’s. It.


THE FLIGHT PATH

Top of 1st

Miles looked locked in and was throwing bullets, striking out the side to work safely around a 2-out single.

Speedy shortstop Trea Turner led off and promptly sat back down, as Miles came out firing nothing but fastball strikes, striking out Trea on a fastball up and away for a 3-pitch first out.

On a 1-2 count against next hitter Adam Eaton, Miles broke off a big hook in the dirt, getting Eaton to waive over it, as Yadi blocked it and threw him out easily for out 2.

Mikolas, however, made a mistake with a curve on a on 0-1 count to Anthony Rendon, who yanked it violently right down the third-base line, kicking up a poof of chalk for a single.

Miles then re-grouped quickly, as if that never happened, getting young stud Juan Soto striking out on a nasty, diving, 2-2 curve down-and-in to end the inning.

Bottom of 1st

The Cards didn’t get anything going, but at least Goldy make Sanchez work a bit.

Dexter Fowler looked to continue hitting the ball hard as he did in the NLDS but wanting to get rewarded more for it. Alas, he didn’t put one in play at all in his first at-bat, striking out swinging on a 2-2 splitter way in the dirt.

Kolten Wong did put one in play, getting jammed a bit, pulling a ground-out to second on the third pitch he saw.

Paul Goldschmidt made Sanchez work much harder against him, battling in a 9-pitch at-bat, but ultimately he flew out to right.

Top of 2nd

The Nats jumped on a couple more Miles’ mistake pitches, turning two doubles into a quick run.

Veteran Howie Kendrick led off, shooting a decent but not-great slider down and away out to right-center for a double, already the Nats’ second of the night. Miles got Ryan Zimmerman, though, to ground out, with the bonus of it being to third, forcing Kendrick to remain at second while Matt Carpenter threw Zimmerman out at first easily.

Michael A. Taylor could not advance the runner either, striking out on the Slinking Lizard slider down and away for out 2.

Miles could not close the inning out unscathed, however, as 8th-place hitter Yan Gomes hit yet another Washington double, smacking a slider that hung right over the middle into left center, bouncing off the base of the wall, suddenly making it 1-0 Nationals.

Thankfully, the pitcher was up next, and Mikolas dispatched him on four pitches, getting him to top a curveball just past Miles that DeJong charged and threw to first for the easy third out.

Bottom of 2nd

The Cards went down in order, but Marcell did get great wood on one that Mother Nature denied.

Marcell Ozuna, looking to continue his awesome NLCS, put some fear into Sanchez, as he sent a deep fly to direct center, but it was caught at the track for a loud, cold-weather-killed out, despite exiting his barrel at 106 mph, flying 306 feet. Sanchez got that ball back and kissed it—literally.

Greeted by chants of his name already, Yadier Molina stepped in but could not reward the fans vociferousness, flying out to medium center.

Trying to F-that shift, Matt Carpenter bunted on the first pitch he saw. He got one down third past the pitcher, but it was a bit too hard; plus, Rendon moved up right before the charged it, barehanded it cleanly, and threw to first to nail him for the 1-2-3 inning.

Top of 3rd

Miles got through his first inning of the night without giving up a base runner.

Turner already was leading off again, making Miles work a bit, using up 7 pitches but ultimately flying out to short right toward the line. Going back to the fastball instead of breaking ball for his out pitch, Miles earned a backward K against Eaton, who looked at strike 3 on a beauty in the upper-outside quadrant.

Rendon then sent one of those fastballs to deep center with good contact, but like Marcell’s an inning earlier, it died at the track, as Dex gloved it easily.

Bottom of 3rd

Sanchez swept through the bottom the Cards’ order without incident, setting the lineup down in order for the third time in a row. (That would be nine-straight outs.)

Tommy Edman led off by missing a good opportunity on a middle-middle cutter, flying out to medium center for out 1. Sanchez then dispatched 8th-place hitter DeJong without batting an eye, striking him out on 3 pitches, the last one on Pauly D’s bugaboo, the elevated fastball (at only 90 mph). Miles then did what hitting pitchers do in the NL, and struck out swinging on three pitches.

Top of 4th

Miles looked to be getting more locked in, as he worked around a harmless 2-out single.

Juan Soto attempted to bunt for a hit, but it rolled foul barely before stopping down the third-base line. He lingered at first before returning to the batter’s box, so the Best Fans In Baseball did what they do, and booed him rousingly. After finally resuming his hitting stance, Soto grounded out weakly to DeJong’s backhand, who fired to first for out one.

Howie Kendrick then hit one a bit sharper to DeJong’s backhand. His throw pulled Goldschmidt off first base, but the Golden Glover deftly slid to his left and tagged Howie out.

Ryan Zimmerman then got lucky on a good slider, rolling one through the left side, just beyond Pauly D diving to his right for a single.

Next hitter Taylor tried to catch the Cards napping, as he attempted to bunt for a base hit. He tapped it right in front of the box, however, and he stepped on the ball, immediately getting himself out to end the inning.

Bottom of 4th

The Cards finally got their first baserunner via a one out walk from Kolten. He made it to third with two outs via a steal and errant throw, but it ended there.

Dexter Fowler did not make Sanchez work at all, offering at the very first pitch, flying out to shallow center for a quick first out.

Thankfully, Kolten did read my intro between innings, getting the Cards’ first baserunner of the night by walking on 5 pitches.

That brought Pauly G to the plate to keep the inning going. With Sanchez watching Kolten carefully with multiple pick-off throws, he jammed Goldschmidt, who flew out harmlessly to shallow center for out 2.

On the first pitch to Ozuna, Wong left for second, flying into the base with a head-first slide, as the throw was off-line and skipped far enough into shallow right-center for Kolten to scamper to third.

Marcell, however, could not cash in, popping out in foul territory beyond third to end the mini threat as quickly as it had appeared.

Top of 5th

The Nats produced two seeing-eye singles and a walk to load the bases with two outs, but Miles buckled down to get out of the jam.

Yan Gomes notched his second hit of the night off Miles by leading off with well-placed single to left in the hole. Pitcher Sanchez failed to get the sac bunt down, fouling one attempt off, swinging and missing on a butcher-boy attempt, then fouling another bunt attempt, striking out.

Third Time Through the Order Alert - Turner then singled to left in the same spot as Gomes’, not hitting it hard (84 mph EV) making it first and second, one out.

Adam Eaton then bit on on over, but just-low-enough curve, popping out to DeJong for out 2.

The Cards then got lefty youngster Genesis Cabrera and righty John Brebbia up in the bullpen as Maddux convened a meeting on the mound with Rendon up next.

Miles pitched the dangerous slugger carefully, nibbling at the zone, throwing everything down and away, walking him on four straight.

Things didn’t get any easier, as Soto came in now with bases loaded. Throwing nothing but curves to the young power hitter, Miles got behind 2-0 but didn’t give in, getting him to ground the fourth one to Wong, to escape the inning unscathed.

Bottom of 5th

Still hitless into the 5th, the Cards remained that way at the end of it.

In another nothing-doing inning, Yadi led off by grounding out to short on his sixth pitch. Carpenter then foul-tipped a 1-2 pitch into the catcher’s mitt that he thought (correctly) hit the dirt first. But the ump did not see it/hear it that way, ringing him up for the second out.

Not enjoying hitting in the cold, Californian Edman swung at the first pitch he saw, an over, but top-of-the-zone fastball, flying out weakly to shallow center.

Perhaps it was the wiggle/spin:

Top of 6th

Miles gave up his third double of the night, but he was able to subsequently retire the bottom of the Nats’ order (effectively using an intentional walk) without further incident.

Entering the inning at 82 pitches, Miles faced Kendrick, who annoyingly fouled off four-straight pitches but ultimately grounded out to DeJong on an easy bouncer. Miles then couldn’t get a fastball in on him enough, and he banged it into left-center for a one-out double.

Mikolas came back, however, to strike out Taylor on a perfectly placed fastball down in the zone for the second out.

Shildt elected then to intentionally walk Gomes (owner of 2 hits on the night) to get to the pitcher, Sanchez. I agreed. It paid off, as horrible hitter even-for-pitchers Sanchez grounded out to Carpenter, who threw the short way to second to get the force-out.

Bottom of 6th

In desperation, I finally decided to type this: Sanchez entered this inning with a no-hitter.

The jinx didn’t work for a hit, but it worked for a hit-by-pitch. Getting a runner at second with one out via the stolen base was not parlayed into anything.

Entering the sixth at a measly 56 pitches, Sanchez faced DeJong leading off. Pauly D worked the count full, and despite Sanchez’ control wavering, DeJong ultimately chased a high-away cutter for the first out.

Rookie Randy Arozarena now came in to pinch-hit for Miles. On a 1-2 pitch, Randy got plunked on his left elbow, making very late, minimal effort to turn away from it, to get the Cards’ second runner of the night. That irritated catcher Gomes, and Sanchez asked his manager to come out to argue, but play resumed without any discussion with the ump.

Despite Sanchez keeping an eye on the speedy Randy, the rookie stole second easily without a throw, as Sanchez is extremely slow getting to the plate with runners on.

Dex now had a shot with just the Cards’ 2nd RISP chance. He rolled over on one, grounding out to second, as Randy moved to third.

Now Kolten had a chance for the 2-out big hit. He couldn’t come through, making decent contact at 92 mph EV, but lining out easily to center to end to what amounted at that point as a rally.

Top of 7th

Three relievers were used in an inning that saw the Nats tack on a run from a leadoff triple and 2-out single. Before the inning was over, the Nats loaded the bases, but couldn’t put any more on the board.

Giovanni Gallegos now entered for Mikolas to face the top of the order. On a 1-2 slider, Turner lined it just to Gio’s left, but Gallegos’ follow-through carried him right to the ball, as he snatched it out of the air for the first out. (It helped that it was hit just at 83 mph EV.)

Adam Eaton then worked a full count (with Gio almost nailing him on the 6th pitch. On the next offering, Gio hung a slider up and away, and Eaton smacked it into left-center. A speedy runner, he churned toward third, just barely beating a good relay with a head-first slide.

Shildt ordered the second intentional walk of the night, giving Rendon the quick free pass. Despite Gio’s good numbers against lefties (the previous lefty hitter Eaton notwithstanding), Shildt brought in Andrew Miller.

So now with first and third and one out, Soto entered to try to tack on for the Nats. On a one-strike count, Soto tried to surprise everyone with a bunt-single attempt, fouling it off. Nats’ manager Martinez shook his head, indicating the youngster tried that on his own. Miller got lucky on the next pitch, which he left right down the middle that Soto foul-tipped, just in and out of Yadi’s mitt. The count ultimately went full, and Miller went to his bread-and-butter slider, but he also pulled the string, throwing it at 83 mph instead of in the high 80s. The speed change fooled Soto, as he swung through it for strike three. Good thing, because it was middle-middle.

Shildt made his mound walk for the second time this inning, pulling Miller for Brebbia to face Kendrick. That backfired immediately, as the veteran came through, slamming a line drive up the middle to make the score 2-0.

Now with two outs and runners on first and second, Brebbia lost Zimmerman to a walk on 8 pitches, loading the bases.

Mike Maddux exited the dugout, blowing his nose on the way to the mound, for a great look. His conversation was brief, and Brebbia told him he had a little snot trickling from his nose.

Brebbia got ahead of the next batter Taylor 0-2. Then after two pitches too close to the zone were fouled off, Brebbia pitched more carefully, but Taylor laid off of them, getting the count full. Brebbia didn’t give in and spun a just good-enough slider that Taylor lofted to Dex in center for an easy third out.

Bottom of 7th

Hey, the Cards got a baserunner!...on another hit batsman...with 2 outs...that produced nothing.

Goldy led off, trying to get the Cards’ first hit. He lofted a shallow fly ball toward the line in left that seemed initially to have a chance to drop. Fast shortstop Turner, however, chased it down on a long run for out 1.

Marcell produced a weak fly ball as well, late on a middle-up fastball caught by right fielder Eaton.

Yadi then hilariously (sort of) became just the Cards’ third baserunner by getting hit by a 66(!) mph change-up in the upper back.

Carpenter then got down 0-2 and swung at splitter that was headed for the dirt, grounding out weakly to first for the final out.

Top of 8th

Ryan Helsley now became the fourth Cardinal reliever on the night. He did great, getting 2 strikeouts and a groundout.

Helsley started by facing 8th-place hitter Gomes, who did not hit like an 8th-place hitter tonight, as he had 2 hits. Going to a full count, Helsley broke off a nice, tight slider to get Gomes swinging.

Helsley then dispatched pitcher Sanchez swinging for back-to-back strikeouts. Sanchez cared not.

Leadoff man Turner then entered and grounded out meekly to DeJong, who had to charge the topper, throwing him out on the run.

Bottom of 8th

Sanchez still had a no-hitter. Sanchez still had a no-hitter. Sanchez still had a no-hitter.
Sanchez still had a no-hitter. Sanchez still had a no-hitter. Sanchez still had a no-hitter.
Sanchez still had a no-hitter. Sanchez still had a no-hitter. Sanchez still had a no-hitter.

Jose Martinez broke up the no-hitter with a 2-out single! Nothing came of it, but at least they weren’t no-hit!

Tommy Edman led off against a surely, finally, tiring 35-year-old Sanchez. Surely. Tommy got a meatball 3-2, 90 mph sinker that hung up a bit, and lined it to the right of first baseman Zimmerman, who laid out and snagged it for out 1. (It looked like a hot smash, but it was hit only at 88 mph.)

DeJong then made quick work of himself, flying out on another center-cut 90 mph sinker, flying out to shallow center for out 2.

Now pinch-hitter Jose Martinez came up to try to end this no-hit thing. He got the count to 3-2, then thankfully, thankfully, thankfully, lined it into center for the Cards first hit!!!

With that, Washington manager Martinez pulled Sanchez, who did look like he was laboring a bit, but even Jose’s hit was only at 92 mph EV.

In classy moves all around, Sanchez saluted fellow Venezuelan Martinez on his way off the mound, and the Cards’ fans gave him a standing-o.

Now lefty reliever Sean Doolittle came in to turn Dex around to hit right-handed. The pitcher got a quick gift first-called strike that was clearly outside the zone down and in. He ultimately jammed Dex on a 2-2 inside fastball off the plate, getting him to ground out easily to third.

Top of 9th

The Nats produced a brief 2-out rally against two more relievers, but while Carlos Martinez helped create the rally, he squashed it without incident.

Lefty Tyler Webb now jumped on the reliever carousel for the Cards, facing lefty batter Eaton leading off. On a 1-2 pitch, Webb got jobbed by a check-swing call that was ruled a ball instead of a swinging strike 3 (which it was). Justice was served, though, as Webb jammed Eaton, producing a grounder to Carpenter at third, who threw him out easily.

Webb then challenged Rendon with a 1-2 tailing fastball up and away, and the tough hitter swung through it, striking out.

Webb couldn’t get bast lefty hitter Soto, who next pulled an outside change-up just beyond the reach of Wong, who dove to his left to no avail, as it rolled into right for a single.

With righty Kendrick up next, Shildt pulled the levers in a double-switch, replacing Webb with righty Carlos Martinez and placing Harrison Bader in center, replacing Dex.

Carlos created more trouble, un-corking a first-pitch wild pitch that wasn’t even close, zipping well wide of Yadi’s reach, allowing the runner to get to second. So, naturally, the Cards used another intentional walk, putting Kendrick on.

So now with first and second two outs, Zimmerman stepped in. Carlos got him to chase a 2-2 slider down and away to end the threat.

Bottom of 9th

Now with the no-hit worries in their rear-view mirror, the Cards had their best hitters up to start the 9th, beginning with Wong. The Nats left their lefty reliever Doolittle in.

Wong...attempted a bunt; and while it was a pretty good one down third that forced the pitcher off the mound to retrieve, he was called out at first. A quick review confirmed the call. So one pitch, one out.

Goldy then entered, and sent a 1-1 pitch deep to left, but it hooked foul before getting close to the wall. With the fans shouting “Goldy! Goldy!,” Doolittle induced Paul to swing at a down-and-away change-up, and he hit it off the end of his bat, grounding out weakly to first for the second out.

Down to their last out in Ozuna, The Big Bear got down 1-2, ultimately striking out on an elevated fastball.

Nats won, 2-0.


THE BOTTOM LINE

  • Sanchez’ line (ugh): 7.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 5 Ks, 1 BB, 2 HBP
  • After the 6th, Sanchez became the first pitcher ever with 2 no-hitters through 6 in the post-season. He did it previously with the Tigers in...I didn’t catch when, and I don’t want to look it up. (Sour grapes, yo.)
  • Oh, yeah—and Sanchez became the first pitcher with 7 hitless innings in the post-season since Michael Wacha’s glory days 2013 NLDS Game 4.
  • Jose Martinez broke up Sanchez’ no-hitter; both players are from Venezuela.
  • While giving up several hits, Miles’ line ultimately was good where it counted:
    6 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 7 Ks, 2 BB (1 Intentional)
  • The Nats led the NL in scoring with 2 outs. They continued using that tool tonight.
  • The score could’ve been much more lop-sided, as the Nats went 2-12, stranding 13.
  • The Cards’ night couldn’t have been much worse, as they were 0-3 with RISP, stranding 4.
  • Of the only 9 batted balls with greater than 95 mph exit velocity, 8 were by the Nats.
    Irony of ironies, the hardest-hit one was Ozuna’s deep fly-out in the 2nd inning at 106 mph.
  • The two team square off again tomorrow in a mid-afternoon affair at 3:08 CT, with Adam Wainwright going against Max Scherzer.