There have been a bunch of times that it seemed like we were going to see the first no-hitter in the major leagues this season.
Let’s run through some of the statistical highlights.
Nothing new for Sanchez
Sanchez has thrown five complete games in which he has allowed one hit or fewer, the most of any active pitcher (with the complete games being a minimum of nine innings). In the past 40 seasons, only Nolan Ryan (14), Dave Stieb (6) and Randy Johnson (6) have more.
Longest No-Hit Bids of Season
This was also the second time Sanchez had a no-hitter broken up in the ninth inning in the past three seasons. On April 22, 2011, he had one against the Colorado Rockies, broken up by Dexter Fowler leading off the ninth inning.
The Elias Sports Bureau noted Sanchez is the first pitcher to have two no-hit bids broken up that late within a three-year span since Pedro Martinez did in 1994 and 1995.
Elias also noted Sanchez became the third pitcher in Tigers history to throw a shutout in which he allowed one hit or fewer and struck out at least 12. Justin Verlander and Jim Bunning each did that in no-hitters, and Verlander also did it in a one-hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates last season.
This was Sanchez's third 10-strikeout game in 22 starts with the Tigers.
He had three in 132 starts with the Marlins.
Nothing new for the Tigers
This was the third time the Tigers had a no-hit bid broken up in the ninth inning in the past four seasons. The others were by Armando Galarraga against the Cleveland Indians (which would have been a perfect game if not for a blown call at first base)and Verlander in that start against the Pirates.
And nothing new for Mauer, either
Elias noted that in the expansion era (since 1961), Mauer and former Yankee Horace Clarke are the only players to break up three no-hit bids in the ninth inning.
What made Sanchez so good?
This game was a little different from Sanchez’s 17-strikeout game against the Atlanta Braves on April 26. That day, he recorded 28 swings-and-misses, twice as many as he had against the Twins on Friday night.
What stood out for Sanchez was that his called-strike rate was a season-high 42 percent (32 strikes on 77 takes).
Sanchez got to two strikes on 20 hitters and retired all 20, striking out 12. He struck out six with his fastball, three with his slider, two with his changeup and one with his curveball. The six strikeouts with his fastball were his most in more than a year (he had seven against the Arizona Diamondbacks last April 28).
The Tigers' defense, which has had trouble converting batted balls into outs all season, came through for Sanchez in this one. Sanchez entered the game with a .361 opponents batting average on balls in play, the fifth-highest in the majors among ERA-title qualifiers.
Great games, no no-nos
Sanchez posted a 94 on the Bill James Game Score metric, the fourth-best start this season. The only ones it trailed were Shelby Miller’s one-hit shutout against the Rockies (98), Matt Harvey’s one-hit no-decision against the Chicago White Sox (97) and Yu Darvish’s near-perfecto versus the Houston Astros (96).
It tied for the third-best by a Tigers pitcher since 2000, trailing only a Verlander no-hitter and one-hitter.
Had he gotten it
He also would have become the seventh pitcher to throw no-hitters for multiple teams in major league history, joining a list that includes Cy Young, Randy Johnson and Nolan Ryan.