Astros starter Aaron Sanchez threw six no-hit innings in his first start with the team.
With names like Nolan Ryan, Mike Scott and J.R. Richard in attendance, who knew the Astros greats would all be overshadowed by a pitcher who came into the game with a 6.07 ERA? Baseball can throw all kinds of surprises at you.
Aaron Sanchez, acquired via trade from Toronto on Wednesday, turned in six hitless innings in his first start as an Astro after struggling mightily for the Blue Jays this season. Fellow trade acquisition Joe Biagini joined Will Harris and Chris Devenski in finishing off the gem.
The four pitchers threw the second combined no-hitter in franchise history, with the first being the memorable 2003 effort at Yankee Stadium. They also put pressure on Zack Greinke, the team’s big ticket acquisition, to impress everyone in his debut on Tuesday.
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Astros pitching coach Brent Strom has already had an effect on Sanchez, who seemed in need of a change of scenery after coming in with a major league-leading 14 losses on the season. The potential was clearly there, as he was an All-Star in 2016 with 15 wins and a league-leading 3.00 ERA.
Sanchez threw more curveballs in Saturday’s start (29 percent) than he had throughout the season (22 percent), fitting in with a common team emphasis on four-seam fastballs and curveballs. His curve also has the 16th-best spin rate in the game, which explains why the Astros would want him to throw it more.
For Biagini, he also ranks highly in spin rate, again showing why the Astros targeted him. He tossed a scoreless eighth inning in his team debut, which already makes this a rather successful trade, especially considering Derek Fisher‘s unfortunate incident on the same day.
Orange Letter Day
The historic day took place in front of a litany of legends who were on hand for the inaugural Astros Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Inductees included Bob Aspromonte, Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Jose Cruz, Larry Dierker, Joe Morgan, Joe Niekro, Shane Reynolds, J.R. Richard, Nolan Ryan, Mike Scott, Jim Umbricht, Don Wilson and Jimmy Wynn.
Dierker, Ryan and Scott all threw no-hitters for the club, and likely future inductees Roy Oswalt and Billy Wagner were part of the 2003 combined no-no. Now the franchise will have one more day to add to the record books, one that fans will remember fondly for years to come.
***Statistics courtesy of MLB.com and Baseball-Reference***