He had very little trouble in any inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Sanchez pitched his second one-hitter of the season and tied his career high with 11 strikeouts to win for just the second time in his last 16 starts as the Marlins beat the Pirates 3-0 on Saturday night.
“I need to find a way to start off better and go deeper in games,” the right-hander said.
Sanchez did both.
“He was in complete control,” Florida manager Jack McKeon said.
The only thing that stood between Sanchez (8-7) and the second no-hitter of his six-year career was Neil Walker’s(notes) one-out single to left field in the second inning. Pittsburgh loaded the bases, but Sanchez struck out losing pitcher Jeff Locke(notes) to end the threat. That put him on his way to the fourth shutout and sixth complete game of his career.
Sanchez, who threw a no-hitter on Sept. 6, 2006, against Arizona at Miami, retired the final 16 hitters after walking Ryan Ludwick(notes) in the fourth. Sanchez is 2-6 with a 4.17 ERA in his last 16 starts after going 6-1 with a 3.06 ERA in his first 13.
Sanchez also struck out 11 on May 8 against Washington. He walked three.
“He was getting ahead of guys with his fastball and slider, and his secondary pitchers were there whether he was ahead or behind in the count,” Marlins catcher John Buck(notes) said. “When he has that downward angle on his changeup like he did tonight, it makes it tough on either lefties or righties.”
Sanchez’s change was so good that even home umpire Dan Iassogna was talking about it.
“He said a couple of times how nasty they were,” Buck said. “And they were because the bottom was falling out of them.”
Walker’s hit was a clean double down the left-field line.
“I wanted to throw the ball away because he doesn’t usually hit the ball the other way on the line,” Sanchez said. “I made the right pitch. He just hit it. There’s nothing you can do. Something else might have happened after that to break up the no-hitter anyway. I was just happy I was able to finish the game.”
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, whose club has a major league-high 484 strikeouts since the All-Star break, was impressed by Sanchez.
“He really never allowed us to get into position to get many hits because he was getting ahead in the count, mixing his pitches and showing no pattern with his pitches,” Hurdle said. “He had command of all four of his pitches.”
Locke (0-1) took the loss in his major league debut, allowing three runs and five hits in five innings. He walked four and struck out one.
“It was a great experience and a lot of fun. The biggest thing I learned from it is that you’ve got make pitches and get ahead in the count, especially against these guys in the big leagues,” Locke said. “My command wasn’t altogether there and I’d say it was because of some nervousness, some anxiousness and having a little too much adrenaline flowing.”
Florida scored all the runs in the third off Locke. Buck highlighted the inning with a two-run single.
Locke, 23, was recalled Tuesday from Triple-A Indianapolis, where he went 1-2 with a 2.22 ERA in five starts. He spent the majority of the season at Double-A Altoona, going 7-8 with a 4.03 ERA in 23 games, 22 starts.
The Marlins were without center fielder Mike Cameron(notes) and right fielder Mike Stanton(notes), who both had strained right hamstrings, and left fielder Logan Morrison(notes), who bruised his left knee while making a sliding catch and crashing into a side wall on Friday night.
Stanton was reinjured Friday after sitting out four games. Cameron missed his third consecutive game.
Locke put himself in trouble in the third with control problems.
Bonifacio led off with an infield single, Bryan Petersen(notes) walked, and the runners moved up to second and third on Omar Infante’s(notes) sacrifice bunt. Locke then walked Gaby Sanchez(notes) to load the bases, and Buck followed by lining a two-run single to right field before Donnie Murphy(notes) capped the inning with a sacrifice fly.
“We had a skeleton crew but if (Sanchez) pitches like that all the time we won’t ever need any runs,” McKeon said.
Notes: A day after Stanton disputed that he was hurt after being pulled in the third inning, McKeon said he wouldn’t play the slugger again until he was “100 percent healthy.” … Morrison is likely to return to the lineup Monday night when the Marlins open a three-game series at Atlanta. … Locke became the 51st player used by the Pirates this season, tying the club record set last year. … Pittsburgh RHP Chris Leroux(notes) pitched two scoreless relief innings but had his streak of consecutive batters retired end at 20 when Bonifacio singled in the seventh. … RHP Javier Vazquez(notes) (9-11, 4.29) will start for Florida against RHP James McDonald(notes) (9-7, 3.98) on Sunday in the finale of the three-game series. Vazquez has won his last two starts, allowing only one run in 14 innings. McDonald has a 3.26 ERA in 10 starts since the All-Star break.