ST. LOUIS — Ten runs in the first inning of their last postseason game for the Cardinals.
No hits Friday night against the Nationals’ Anibal Sanchez through 7 ²/₃ innings in Washington’s 2-0 NLCS Game 1 win over the Cardinals at a chilly Busch Stadium.
Isn’t baseball the most unpredictable sport?
Sanchez, 35, was terrific. The Nats have the big-name starters in Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin, but it was the journeyman who was magnificent.
The right-hander lost his no-hit bid with a lined single to center with two outs in the eighth by pinch hitter Jose Martinez.
Sanchez then came out of the game, gave a classy wave of his glove to the contingent of Nats fans along the first base line and was replaced by Sean Doolittle, who got the final four outs for the save.
This gem is a bit surprising coming from Sanchez, a workmanlike pitcher with a 108-108 lifetimer record. He was signed as a free agent this winter by the Nats and is making $6 million this season.
As for the Cardinals, the last time they were no-hit was the Johan Santana Mets Magic game in 2012 at Citi Field. The last time they were no-hit at home was 1906 by Mal Eason of the Brooklyn Superbas.
There have only been two postseason no-hitters. Don Larsen had the perfect game in the 1956 World Series against the Dodgers and the late Roy Halladay in 2010 in the NLDS against the Reds.
While with the Tigers in 2013, Sanchez threw six hitless innings for the Tigers in Game 1 of the ALCS against the Red Sox, so he knows about postseason success.
Friday night Sanchez retired the first 10 batters before he allowed a base-runner, a one-out walk to Kolten Wong in the fourth. He also hit a batter, pinch-hitter Randy Arozarena with one out in the sixth. Arozarena then stole second base, but Sanchez bore down and got Dexter Fowler to hit a weak grounder to second for the second out and got Wong to fly to center.
Before the game Scherzer was asked about Sanchez, his teammate in Detroit, and offered a terrific scouting report.
“The biggest thing is that he’s been able to add a cutter,’’ Scherzer said. “The way he can pitch with the cutter to both righties and lefties, that’s the biggest thing he’s added since I played with him. But his ability to change speeds, it’s probably one of the best in the game. The way he can change speeds, even on his changeup, he can change speeds, I mean, he can slow it all the way down, we call it the butterfly, he can throw a butterfly in there and you get guys just every hitter just waves at it.
“So that’s what makes him such a treat to watch, is that I really feel like every pitcher can learn from him because of the way he puts his pitches together and the way he can change speeds.
Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
The Nats are riding the hot hand after beating the Dodgers in five games. Anything is possible if you get to the tournament.
The ALCS is about the big guns — Astros vs. Yankees. That is the ALCS America wanted. Over here in the Wild West NLCS, it has been nothing but surprises and that shows you how wide open the NL is this year.
It also shows the Mets missed a golden opportunity.
Just think of the damage they could have inflicted if they made the tournament. The Mets certainly had enough starting pitching to make noise. If the Mets made it and did what other teams have done, utilizing some of their high octane starters in relief, that would have been fun.
Would have been interesting to see Noah Syndergaard come on in such an appearance. Maybe in 2020, Mets.
The Nationals are here because Dave Martinez’s team got it together after a terrible start. The Nats got the only run they needed in the second when No. 8 hitter Yan Gomes drilled a two-out double to score Howie Kendrick who doubled with one out.
The temperature was 41 degrees midway through the game, but the Cardinals hitters were colder. The magic in the first inning at SunTrust Park that shocked the Braves in Game 5 of the NLDS disappeared because of Sanchez’s butterfly performance.