Pitching coach Brent Strom really does have fairy dust. Maybe it’s a magic elixir. Or a maybe they do a special dance in a sacred corner of the Nerd Cave.
Coming into tonight’s debut with the Astros, newly acquired pitcher Aaron Sanchez was, officially, the worst pitcher in the AL, with a 6.07 ERA, the highest in the league among qualifying pitchers. After receiving his Holy Water in the Astros dugout tonight, Sanchez threw a six-inning no-hitter, allowing two walks and fanning six Mariners.
In his debut with the Astros in 1998, Randy Johnson pitched seven innings, allowing two runs.
In his debut with the Astros in 2017, Justin Verlander pitched six innings, allowing one run.
On Tuesday night we see the debut of the Astros‘ new #3 future Hall of Fame ace Zach Greinke. How can he top this?
Sanchez’ success tonight was not fairy dust. The changes he made tonight fit a well-worn pattern for pitchers who are traded to the Astros. More four-seamers, more curves. Dump the sinker. With the success of this formula over and over again for the Astros, you’d think other teams would have figured it out by now.
Here is the pitch selection for Aaron Sanchez in his career:
four seam- 21%...sinker-49%...change-12%...curve-16% Here’s what he threw tonight.
four seam-35%...sinker- 18%...change-20%...curve-28% (According to Brooks Baseball)
This is exactly what we predicted here on TCB in our early analysis of the Sanchez trade. He threw sinkers one third as often, and increased the curve and four seam significantly. And look what happened.
Almost like fairy dust.
Is Sanchez going to be another reclaimed ace added to the Strom tally? Another Cole? Another Morton? Another Pressly? Are you kidding? Is it really possible?
The combined no-hitter, the second in Minute Maid Park History, and 12th in the History of the Astros, was completed by Will Harris, Joe Biagini, and Chris Devenski in the 7th, 8th and 9th innings respectively. Biagini also debuted with the Astros tonight, and immediately got into the Astros’ record book
Astros pitching, which appeared last week to be a major deficiency, is now an embarrassment of riches. When Ryan Pressly and Brad Peacock return, who goes? Conventional wisdom says Chris Devenski, because he has options. But Devo looks like his All-Star self again. What to do? What a problem to have?
Mariners pitchers, on the other hand, just got drubbed all night long. In the first inning the Astros opened with three runs, One on an RBI double by Michael Brantley, one on a sacrifice grounder by Alex Bregman, and a third on an RBI single by Yordan Alvarez.
Jose Altuve added another run in the fifth on an opposite field solo homer, his 18th of the year. His red-hot hitting continues, as his batting average is safely above .300 after dropping to .242 before his IL stint.
The Michael Brantley hitting machine kept purring in the sixth, as his two run double scored Martin Maldonado and Jose Altuve.
In the seventh inning Yuli Gurriel’s club took another hit on the Mariner’s pinata, scoring Carlos Correa with an RBI double.
Just for emphasis, the Stros added two more in the ninth, one on another Brantley RBI hit, which scored Jake Marisnick, and the final run of the night, an RBI Alex Bregman triple, scoring Brantley.
The Astros scored nine runs on fifteen hits, four doubles, a triple, and a home run. Meanwhile the pitching gave up no hits and no runs. Utter dominance. You might find this Mariner version of the game slightly humorous.
Now I understand why the league is starting to hate the Astros. They take THE worst pitcher in baseball and turn him into Sandy Koufax right away. Meanwhile, this is what happened to the asset, Derek Fisher, the Astros traded to get that “loser.”
Joking aside, let us hope Derek Fisher is OK. He is listed as day-to-day.
Here is a video commemorating the induction of the first official Astros Hall of Fame inductees.
Tomorrow expect Justin Verlander to complete the demolition of the Mariners as they send Tobe Determined to face the ace.
The Astros have out-scored the Mariners 19-2 in the last two games.
Box score and videos HERE.