For Tim Lincecum(notes), it has become an expectation. Matt Cain(notes) certainly has the stuff. Barry Zito(notes) could afford to buy one. Even Randy Johnson(notes), at his advanced age, has done it before and even flirted with one this season.
But Sanchez, who was dropped from the club's starting rotation three weeks ago and has been considered the weak link on a team whose strength is starting pitching, got the prize Friday night in San Francisco.
Sanchez struck out 11 and nearly had a perfect game in the Giants' 8-0 victory against the Padres. Sanchez allowed no walks; the only Padre to reach base did so on Juan Uribe's(notes) error in the eighth. Control had been Sanchez's biggest problem.
And the only reason Sanchez got the call to pitch at all was because the Big Unit recently was put on the disabled list.
"I want to be a starter," the 26-year-old Sanchez says. "They gave me a second chance, you see what happened tonight."
And Sanchez's dad, Sigfrido Sanchez — presumably in from Puerto Rico
Venezuela — was in the stands at AT&T Park to see it happen.
"This is the first time he has seen me pitch. This is a gift for him," Sanchez said. "I feel awesome."
Giants fans disappointed in how the final All-Star vote turned out for Kung Fu "Pablo Sandoval" Panda, can rejoice in this. Sandoval also hit a three-run homer to back Sanchez.
Sanchez had a couple of close calls. Uribe's error could have been called a hit by some official scorers (it was a tough hop — VIDEO), and outfielder Aaron Rowand(notes) made a sweet leaping catch against the fence in center for the second out of the ninth (VIDEO) to get the crowd buzzing even louder in anticipation.
"I was going to go up and over and land on the other side of the fence if I had to, to try to make the catch," Rowand said.
One factor in Sanchez's favor was the Padres' lineup — not one of the NL's best, and made weaker recently by the Scott Hairston(notes) trade. Still, facing the likes of Adrian Gonzalez(notes), Li'l Tony Gwynn(notes) and ... Adrian Gonzalez two more times, Sanchez had to miss their bats for nine innings.
"On film he throws the ball hard, but it looks like he doesn't know where it's going," Gwynn said. "Today he looked exactly like he knew where it was going."
"I think if you looked at the staff, he wouldn’t be the one you picked," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He came out throwing 94-96 (mph). He just had incredible stuff."
"Right now I’m just going to go home and hang out with my dad," Sanchez said. "I was pumped that he was here watching the game."