The toll from throwing 123 pitches showed on Anibal Sanchez. The Florida Marlins right-hander wore one big bag of ice on his right shoulder, another on his right arm and yet another on his right thigh as he settled into a chair with a grimace.
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Trying to throw a no-hitter is hard.
Sanchez held the Colorado Rockies hitless Friday night until Dexter Fowler led off the ninth inning with a broken-bat single. Sanchez then got the final three outs for a one-hitter and the Marlins won 4-1.
Sanchez (1-1) had a career-high nine strikeouts, and the run off him was unearned. He threw a no-hitter for Florida as a rookie in 2006 and shook off the disappointment of falling just shy of another.
”It was awesome to have the opportunity to almost throw again a no-hitter,” Sanchez said. ”I’m excited.”
The one-hitter was the second this season. Dan Haren of the Los Angeles Angels had one in a 2-0 victory over Cleveland on April 12.
The hit off Sanchez came on his 116th pitch, and the first of the ninth. Fowler pulled a single to right field past second baseman Omar Infante, ending the no-hit bid.
”To see it go on a broken bat is kind of disheartening,” Marlins catcher John Buck said, ”but it shows how hard it is to do. It’s just the way it rolls.”
Added Fowler: ”That was my best swing of the night, but he blew my bat up.”
Fowler was doubled off first on a lineout by Jonathan Herrera. When Carlos Gonzalez grounded out, Sanchez had the fourth complete game of his career and his first since July 29.
”He came out today with some good pitches – inside corner, outside corner, first-pitch strikes,” Herrera said. ”He made us chase those pitches.”
Gaby Sanchez and Chris Coghlan homered for the Marlins, who won their fourth consecutive game. Rockies starter Jhoulys Chacin (3-1) allowed four runs in five innings.
Sanchez walked three, including Fowler to lead off the game. He was unfazed when a two-out fielding error by first baseman Gaby Sanchez allowed Fowler to score.
”Anibal has a very strong mental approach,” manager Edwin Rodriguez said. ”After that first inning, it takes mental toughness to keep his composure, and he did a great job.”
Few witnessed Sanchez’s close call. Announced attendance was 15,069, but the actual crowd totaled just 8,912.
A 27-year-old Venezuelan, Sanchez pitched a no-hitter Sept. 6, 2006, against the Arizona Diamondbacks in just his 13th career start. He required shoulder surgery the following year and slowly regained his form.
He achieved career-high totals in wins and innings last year, when he went 13-12 with a 3.55 ERA. This season he was 0-1 with a 5.51 ERA in three starts before facing the Rockies.
After Colorado took the early lead, Coghlan led off the first with his second home run of the season. The Marlins made it 3-1 on a run-scoring sacrifice bunt by Sanchez and an RBI groundout by Coghlan.
Gaby Sanchez’s home run stretched the Marlins’ lead to 4-1.
Meanwhile, their pitcher cruised along with a mix of curves, sliders, changeups and cutters to go along with his mid-90s fastball.
”Everything was working,” Sanchez said. ”I’m throwing harder than last year.”
In the third, he benefited from an inning-ending double play. He struck out the side in the sixth.
With one out in the seventh, Troy Tulowitzki hit a hard grounder off Sanchez’s right leg and the ball bounced toward first base. Sanchez scrambled to the ball and beat Tulowitzki to the bag for the out. Rodriguez, pitching coach Randy St. Claire and a trainer tended to Sanchez, but he stayed in the game.
He walked the next batter before he struck out Seth Smith looking to end the inning.
Notes: The Marlins have had four no-hitters in team history, the last by Sanchez five seasons ago. … It was Coghlan’s fifth career leadoff home run. … Before the game, Marlins IF Ozzie Martinez was recalled from Triple-A New Orleans to replace OF Logan Morrison (left foot sprain), who was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to April 20. … Ramirez found himself in an unusual play in the seventh after he struck out and accidentally sent his bat into the stands. He walked in front of catcher Chris Iannetta’s path resulting in Infante being called out attempting to steal second base due to batter interference.