It took nearly four years, but Sanchez is no longer the last pitcher to step off that mound following a transcendent performance.
Philadelphia Phillies ace Roy Halladay(notes) threw the majors’ 20th perfect game Saturday night in Miami, leaving Sanchez with a hard act to follow Sunday afternoon as he looks to help the Marlins avoid a three-game sweep.
Halladay had come close to throwing a no-hitter before, getting within one out in his second major league start Sept. 27, 1998, but one of baseball’s top pitchers turned in an even finer performance Saturday. Halladay needed 115 pitches to retire all 27 Marlins he saw, striking out 11 to make an unearned run stand up in Philadelphia’s 1-0 victory.
“It’s never something that you think is possible,” Halladay said. “Really, once I got the two outs, I felt like I had a chance. You’re always aware of it. It’s not something that you expect.”
The Marlins (24-26), who lost their fourth in a row, were more complimentary than upset considering who was on the mound.
Sanchez (4-2, 3.23 ERA) once looked like he could belong among baseball’s elite starters, but after going 10-3 with a 2.83 ERA as a rookie, injuries and inconsistency have kept that from happening.
Lately, however, he’s looked far more like the pitcher who no-hit Arizona on Sept. 6, 2006, in his 13th major league start - the last no-hitter at Sun Life Stadium prior to Halladay’s. Sanchez has posted a 1.77 ERA while winning three consecutive starts, the latest 6-4 against Atlanta on Tuesday as he allowed two runs over 6 1-3 innings.
“Look, I feel good,” Sanchez told the Marlins’ official website. “Those are the types of things you can do when you’re healthy. In previous years, I’ve always had pain in my arm. My operation (rotator cuff surgery in 2007) was a really, really strong one, and now is when I’m starting to see the benefits of it.”
Sanchez, however, hasn’t had much success against the Phillies. He’s 2-5 with a 5.70 ERA in eight starts, and gave up five runs over six innings in an 8-6 loss - to Halladay - at Philadelphia on April 16.
Until recently, Jamie Moyer(notes) (5-4, 4.55) had enjoyed nothing but success versus Florida. But after going 13-2 with a 2.83 ERA in his first 15 starts against the Marlins, the 47-year-old is 0-3 with a 5.00 ERA in his last three.
Moyer gave up five runs over six innings in a 5-1 home loss on April 17. That line included a homer from Ronny Paulino(notes), a .429 career hitter against Moyer whom Halladay got on a grounder for Saturday’s final out.
Moyer, who has a 5.22 ERA on the road, gave up four runs over five innings Tuesday in an 8-0 loss at New York.