On October 11, 2019, Anibal Sanchez spun a masterpiece in the first game of the National League Championship Series and I was not around to see it.
The Washington Nationals had just dispatched the heavily favored Los Angeles Dodgers and were descending upon the St. Louis Cardinals for Game 1 of the NLCS. Little did Nationals fans know, we were about to get the best Anibal Sanchez could offer.
Where were you the night Anibal Sanchez nearly tossed a no-hitter for the Washington Nationals in the 2019 playoffs? I know you remember. For the first time as the Washington Nationals, the team had finally gotten past the NLDS. The disappointing ending to the 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2017 seasons, had been expunged from our memories with one Howie Kendrick swing of the bat, and now the sights were set on a new feat.
As the Nationals took the field that night, so did I. I was not at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, however. I was walking onto a little league field as my son’s coach-pitch team was preparing to play another group of seven year-olds.
There would be no watching the game in the comfort of my own home. No listening to the game on the radio. As the designated pitcher for the team, I couldn’t even stream the game or follow live updates. I was left checking the score periodically while our boys were in the field.
Sanchez had a good year, going 11-8, with an earned run average of 3.85. He was a durable starter in the backend of the Nationals rotation, making 30 starts, the most he’d made in a season since 2012.
His nine strikeout effort, while holding the Dodgers to just one run in his NLDS start, was a bit unexpected. How Sanchez followed it up in his next start was even more surprising.
In between innings of throwing pitches to a bunch of kids, I was following the game-log of one of the best pitching performances of the postseason. Sanchez retired the first ten Cardinals before walking Kolten Wong.
He collected six straight outs before he hit Randy Arozerena. I’m not sure when I noticed he had a no-hitter going as I was concentrating on the Nationals holding the 1-0 lead. I was also focusing on trying not to hit a few batters in the game I was tossing.
As soon as the game ball was handed out alongside the juice boxes, my son and I were in the car headed home.
We were back in time to see the Ryan Zimmerman cat-like reflexes, to preserve the no-hitter. Then the Jose Martinez single which broke it up, one-out later.
For 7.2 innings Anibal Sanchez kept the Cardinals hitters off-balance. He is already a part of Washington Nationals folklore. Unfortunately, I wasn’t around to see most of it.