The San Francisco Giants’ season will end Sunday afternoon - earlier than the team had hoped - but their 2009 finale will at least bring to mind one of the year’s best memories.
Sanchez struck out 11 and did not walk a batter during his July 10 gem - still the only no-hitter in the NL this season - coming within a Juan Uribe(notes) eighth-inning error of a perfect game. The effort was especially surprising considering that the left-hander’s first-half struggles had briefly cost him a spot in the Giants’ rotation.
After going 2-8 and walking 46 in 65 2-3 innings over his first 13 starts, something clicked for Sanchez just before the All-Star break as he set down 27 of the 28 San Diego hitters he faced.
Sanchez (8-12, 4.27 ERA) parlayed that start into a strong second half. He is 6-4 with a 3.39 ERA and a .189 opponent batting average since the beginning of July, and will try to close the year with a third straight victory after beating Arizona in each of his last two starts.
His success didn’t help San Francisco (87-74) reach the playoffs, as the team was slowed by an offense that ranks 26th in the majors with 653 runs.
The Giants managed two hits in Saturday’s 2-0 loss to the Padres, and their performance in San Diego this year certainly didn’t help their postseason push. A 7-2 win in Friday’s opener of this series is their only victory in eight games at Petco Park in 2009. They’ve scored three or fewer runs in each of the seven losses.
Sanchez has lost both of his starts in San Diego, although he held the Padres to two runs and two hits in six innings of a 2-1 defeat May 20, meaning San Diego has mustered two hits in its last 15 innings against Sanchez.
While San Francisco can take solace in its first winning season since 2004, the Padres (75-86) will spend the offseason in rebuilding mode following the firing of longtime general manager Kevin Towers on Friday.
Left-hander Wade LeBlanc(notes) made a statement that he should be part of their future by throwing seven brilliant innings in Saturday’s victory - an effort fellow rookie southpaw Cesar Ramos(notes) will try to equal in his second major league start.
After three relief appearances, Ramos (0-1, 1.74) made his first start Tuesday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, allowing one run in five-plus innings of San Diego’s 3-1 win.
“What I liked was he kept the ball down for the most part,” manager Bud Black told the Padres’ official Web site.
With a victory Sunday, the Padres could finish with the best record in the majors over the season’s final six weeks. Since Aug. 24, they are 23-12, one-half game behind Cincinnati in that stretch.