The Washington Nationals, fresh off their first postseason series win since leaving Montreal, would have probably loved to have trotted out either Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, or Patrick Corbin for Game One of the NLCS. But their Big Three needed rest, so the team turned to Anibal Sanchez instead – and he delivered in historic fashion.
Sanchez silenced the St. Louis Cardinals offensive machine with a no-hit bid that didn’t end until the eighth inning.
Sanchez had been a reliable member of the Nationals rotation this season. But no one saw the historic start coming that he had Friday night. The Cardinals offense, the same one that set a record by tagging the Atlanta Braves for ten runs in the first inning in their last game, couldn’t touch Sanchez.
It wasn’t until José Martínez connected for a two-out single to centerfield in the eighth inning that the Cardinals were able to record a hit.
With their closer, Daniel Hudson, on paternity leave, the Nationals turned to Sean Doolittle to finish off the inning and close out the game. He did just that, securing a 2-0 win for the Nationals and a 1-0 lead in the series.
While he was unable to become the third pitcher in MLB history to record a no-hitter during the postseason, Sanchez still made history. He became the first pitcher with multiple career no-hit bids that lasted at least six innings. Back in the 2013 postseason, he threw six innings of no-hit ball for the Detroit Tigers in Game One of the 2013 ALCS versus the Boston Red Sox.
The last time someone got as far as he did with a no-hit bid in the postseason was back in 1967, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
With Sanchez taking care of business Friday night, the stage could be set for the Nationals. They are going to be in excellent shape to win the NLCS and make the World Series. There is also a chance they could sweep the Cardinals in the NLCS. Washington’s aces, Scherzer, Strasburg, and Corbin, will all be able to start their next game on regular rest.
For Scherzer, that will be Game Two. While the Nationals haven’t announced it, Strasburg and Corbin are expected to go in Games Three and Four. That means a Cardinals offense that struggled for much of the NLDS is in for a tough three-game stretch.
If the NLCS goes to a Game Five, Anibal Sanchez will likely get the start.
The Cardinals offense could break out of its postseason funk (they hit just .225 in the NLDS), of course. They could light the Nationals up the rest of the way. But if Game One of the NLCS is any indication, it looks like the Washington Nationals may be headed to the World Series.