Saturday night’s game between the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners was set to be an uneventful one. The Astros already heald a firm lead over the American League West Division while the Mariners had been out of the race for some time. Regardless of the circumstances, this would be a night to remember for the Astros.
Aaron Sanchez was traded to the Astros on Wednesday from the Toronto Blue Jays after having a horrid year on the mound. Sanchez posted a 6.07 ERA while losing his last 13 straight decisions to lead the majors with 14 losses. In his first start with Houston, he would not disappoint.
“I’m sure there’s things that are on their mind and things that are on my mind. It’s an open line of communication here,” Sanchez said after the deal. “I’m thrilled to see what they’ve got for me. I’m thrilled to kind of share my thoughts with them and bounce ideas off of each other and see where it goes.”
Expectations were low for the Astros newest starter, but the performance that would follow Sanchez’ acquisition would be near flawless.
“Just trying to have a good first impression,” Sanchez said.
In his first career start with the Astros, Sanchez would not disappoint his new fanbase. Sanchez held the Mariners hitless for six innings with six strikeouts and just two walks issued. After 92 pitches, the ball was given to right-handed reliever Will Harris in the seventh.
“This is awesome,” Sanchez said, adding: “You can’t write it up any better than this.”
Harris would retire Daniel Vogelbach, walk Domingo Santana, and induce J.P. Crawford to ground into an inning-ending double play. The ball would then go to reliever Joe Biagini to keep the no-hitter going through the eighth.
“We don’t have magic dust,” Hinch said. “There’s a lot of people in the organization that go to work to try to find the one thing that can unlock people’s potential.”
Biagini, who came to Houston in the Sanchez trade, induced a groundout to Austin Nola, walked Ryan Court, struck out Keon Broxton, and got Mallex Smith to ground out, bringing the team within three outs of their first combined no-hitter since 2003. In the ninth inning, the ball was given to Chris Devinski to finish the no-no.
“I kind of looked up when I was walking in from the bullpen and saw a ‘0’ up there,” Devenski said. “I had to step off the mound and take a step back and gather myself. Going out there and being able to finish this, with these groups of guys, is something that’s going to live on forever. I’m happy to be a part of it.”
In the ninth, Devinski retired Kyle Seager, Omar Narvaez, and Vogelbach in order on just 12 pitches. Just like that, the inning was over, the game was over, and the no-hitter was complete.
“It’s hard to come to a team and feel like you can contribute in a way when they’re already so good,” Sanchez said. “It’s been an unbelievable 48 hours, and for today to end like it did, I’m so happy.”
The no-hitter was the 13th in Astros franchise history and the first of the combined variety since 2003. The last Astros no-hitter belonged to Mike Fiers in 2015.
For Seattle, it was the second time they had been no-hit this season after they were combined no-hit by Taylor Cole and Felix Pena of the Angels.
“It couldn’t have worked out any better for us when it came to the matchups that we got at the end, and the little energy in the building because of what was at stake,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “We played clean defense, we threw the ball exceptionally well. We had a comfortable lead, but yet there was still a little bit of edge to the dugout because we knew what was going on.”
“It was a great day for the organization to be able to tip our caps to the guys before us,” Hinch said. “I think it’s important for today’s players to check out the history of the Astros and the Colt .45’s. … Historic names in this franchise’s history and, in the not-so-distant future, those names are going to be Jose Altuve and George Springer and many others. It was a great day in this organization.”