Sanchez named NL Player of the Week
Marlins right-hander earns honor, thanks to no-hitter
There's a certain aura and mystique built around no-hitters unlike any other feat in baseball.
Throughout a possible no-no, the superstition of unspoken words regarding it creep into the consciousness of seemingly everyone in attendance from fans to the media to the players themselves.
As Anibal Sanchez was inching towards his history-making moment on Sept. 6 against the Diamondbacks, the Marlins radio announcers and the FSN Florida Marlins broadcasters even refrained from using the word "no-hitter."
"We said things like 'The Diamondbacks are still looking for their first hit,'" TV analayst Tommy Hutton recalled. "But on TV, we kept showing the scoreboard linescore. We said everything but "no-hitter."
Sanchez's no-hitter last week ended a 2 1/2-year stretch without one, the longest stretch between no-hitters in 70 years and the longest number of games played (6,364) between no-no's in Major League history. It was the Majors' first no-hitter since Randy Johnson's perfect game on May 18, 2004.
Sanchez walked four and struck out six to become the fourth player in Marlins history to accomplish the feat, joining Al Leiter, Kevin Brown and A.J. Burnett. On Monday, he was awarded with the National League Player of the Week sponsored by Bank of America.
Sanchez makes his next start on Monday night against the Mets in an attempt to become the second pitcher in history to record consecutive no-hitters. The last starting pitcher to do so was the late Johnny Vander Meer for the Reds on June 11, 1938 when he no-hit the Boston Bees and followed it up with a no-hit gem on June 15 against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the first night game at Ebbets Field.
"I know he threw no-hitters back-to-back," Sanchez said. "People asked me if I can do that. Anything is possible, but that's really hard."
The 22-year-old right-hander became only the 19th rookie in League history to throw a no-hitter. Sanchez also became only the second Venezuelan-born pitcher to throw a no-no, joining fellow countryman Wilson Alvarez, who coincidentally was the last rookie to toss a no-hitter. Alvarez threw his masterpiece on Aug. 11, 1991 with the White Sox when he defeated the Orioles, 7-0, in his second big league start.
On most other weeks, performances from players such as Cincinnati's Bronson Arroyo (2-0, 1.06 ERA, 14 SO), Milwaukee's Corey Hart (.435, 4 HR, 12 RBI), Colorado's Matt Holliday (.448, 3 HR, 12 RBIs), and Philadelphia's Ryan Howard (.526, 4 HR, 5 RBIs) probably would have afforded them the honor of Player of the Week.
But Sanchez's notch in the history books could not be denied.
With the Marlins, Sanchez has quickly made a name for himself, establishing a 7-2 record with a 2.89 ERA since being recalled earlier this season. The Marlins acquired Sanchez and shortstop Hanley Ramirez on Nov. 21, 2005 in a deal that sent Josh Beckett, Guillermo Mota and Mike Lowell to the Red Sox. Pitchers Harvey Garcia and Jesus Delgado were also included.
While the Red Sox have benefited from the services of Beckett and Lowell, they dealt Mota to the Indians this year. But Sanchez and Ramirez, who is also from Venezuela, have helped the Marlins climb back into the playoff race, compiling a 61-40 mark since starting the season 11-31.
"It's magical," said Marlins lefty Dontrelle Willis, who had an impressive outing himself on Sunday in which he struck out 12 and allowed only three hits in the Marlins' 3-0 win over the Phillies. "This couldn't have happened to a better person. He wants to be out there, he wants the ball. He picked us up and that's how we've been all year, picking each other up."
Even the team that let him go had good things to say about Sanchez, who spent part of 2005 Spring Training with the Sox.
"You know what, he's a good kid," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "We didn't get to know him as well as (we would have). But I'm sure he's thrilled. That's pretty neat."
Chris Girandola is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.