Aaron Sanchez looked like a reinvented pitcher in his Houston debut, throwing six stellar innings to start the Astros on a combined no-hitter Saturday night in their 9-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners.
Sanchez was an All-Star in 2016 and led the American League in ERA, but he’s struggled badly this season and had lost 13 straight decisions to lead the majors with 14 losses. Three days after he was acquired from Toronto at the trade deadline, the 27-year-old right-hander teamed with Will Harris, Joe Biagini and Chris Devenski to shut down Seattle.
“Just trying to have a good first impression,” Sanchez said.
It was the second time in less than a month the last-place Mariners were no-hit by multiple pitchers. The Los Angeles Angels used two pitchers in a combined no-hitter July 12 against Seattle on a night when they honored late left-hander Tyler Skaggs by all wearing his No. 45 in their first home game since his death.
Sanchez (4-14) was replaced by Will Harris to start the seventh after throwing 92 pitches.
Harris and Joe Biagini, also obtained from the Blue Jays in the same deal that netted Sanchez, each worked one inning before Devenski tossed a perfect ninth. He retired All-Star slugger Daniel Vogelbach on a routine fly for the final out, setting off an Astros celebration on the field.
“This is awesome,” Sanchez said, adding: “You can’t write it up any better than this.”
Sanchez struck out six, walked two and hit a batter with a pitch in his first win since late April.
Houston manager AJ Hinch patted Sanchez on the chest after he finished the sixth, and pitching coach Brent Strom offered a hearty handshake.
The Astros have a history of improving the performance of pitchers they acquire.
“We don’t have magic dust,” Hinch insisted after Sanchez was added.
Still, Sanchez was eager to get going with his new team.
“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,” he 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.”
Sanchez plunked Omar Narvaez with two outs in the first inning and retired the next nine batters before walking Vogelbach with two outs in the fourth. Ryan Court hit a soft grounder with two outs in the fifth but first baseman Yuli Gurriel fielded it and tossed it to Sanchez, who dashed to first base just in front of Court for the third out.
Sanchez walked Mallex Smith with one out in the sixth, then retired the next two batters to end the inning.
Harris walked Domingo Santana with one out in the seventh, but J.P. Crawford grounded into a double play.
Mike Fiers pitched the previous no-hitter for Houston against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Aug. 21, 2015. That gem came in his third start with the Astros, just 23 days after they obtained him in a trade, and it was his first career complete game.
Houston used six pitchers in a combined no-hitter at Yankee Stadium in 2003.
Besides the Angels’ combined effort, Fiers has the only other no-hitter in the majors this season, for Oakland on May 7 against Cincinnati.