I was in San Francisco on Friday night and had the opportunity to watch the majority of Jonathan Sanchez's incredible performance against the San Diego Padres. In throwing the first Giants' no-hitter in over 32 years, Sanchez struck out 11 and walked none, throwing 77 of his 110 pitches for strikes.
Sanchez was putting the ball exactly where he wanted to, and the Padres hitters had absolutely no idea where that was. The best example of that came in the seventh inning, when Padres 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff swung at strike three which then proceeded to hit him in the ankle.
The no-hitter was saved with one out in the top of the ninth inning, when CF Aaron Rowand made a leaping catch at the center field wall to take away an extra-base hit from the Padres' Edgar Gonzalez.
One day after Tim Lincecum took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Padres, Sanchez was an unlikely candidate to throw a complete game. Sanchez returned to the starting rotation on account of Randy Johnson's trip to the DL, and was making his first start since June 22nd.
Sanchez faced just one batter over the minimum, as Chase Headley reached base with one out in the eighth inning on an error by Giants 3B Juan Uribe. Uribe had moved from second base to third base in the top of the seventh inning, because regular third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who homered earlier, left the game with a sore back.
There is no denying that the play in which Uribe made the error on was a tough one. Veteran Giants infielder Rich Aurilia said: "He [Uribe] did everything to make that play, you have to remember he just moved over from second, where he'd been the last three weeks. That's not an easy hop. I know, I've played the position."
However, no matter how or why the error was committed, Sanchez's performance cannot go down as a perfect game.
So, instead of having the 18th (or 16th, depending how you look at it) perfect game in MLB history, Sanchez will now go down in history as having thrown one of the 200+ no-hitters. While it is still an impressive feat, in the history books, Sanchez's game is equivalent to A.J. Burnett's nine-walk performance, and one was clearly more dominant than the other.
Sanchez became the first pitcher in major league history (since 1900) to strike out 11 or more batters, walk none, and not throw a perfect game. The other five to have a stat line like that are Sandy Koufax, Catfish Hunter, Len Barker, David Wells, and teammate Randy Johnson. Pretty impressive company for Sanchez.
After watching how dominant he was, it is clear that something needs to be done to note that Sanchez was imperfect by no fault of his own.
Either a separate category or an asterisk or a note in the margins that lets everyone know about the pitchers who throw complete games with no hits, walks, or hit batters, and the only baserunner(s) were on account of poor defense. This way, future generations will easily be able to see how impressive and special this game by Sanchez truly was.
This article originally posted on Cubicle GM.