We almost witnessed baseball history Saturday night in Game 1 of the ALCS — the first combined no-hitter in postseason history. Daniel Nava’ one-out single off Joaquin Benoit prevented it. The Tigers still won 1-0.
Despite all the zeros on the scoreboard, the game took nearly four hours to complete, thanks in part to Anibal Sanchez’s control — he walked six — and Boston’s patience at the plate. That patient approach didn’t exactly work out with Boston striking out 17 times — a new postseason record. On Twitter, home plate umpire Joe West — and his strike zone — took the brunt of the abuse. In the postgame press conference, Boston manager John Farrell said it would be “short-sighted” to blame the umpires.
Sanchez also made history with the second four-strikeout inning in postseason play.
By the time the ninth inning rolled around, the FOX production truck decided shots of Red Sox fans in various states of misery in Fenway Park was more compelling than the game itself.
Sanchez, who led the American League in ERA this season, started the game and went six innings. His final line included 12 strikeouts and six walks over 116 pitches — only 66 for strikes. Sanchez didn’t allow a run and left the game with the Tigers ahead 1-0. He fanned Stephen Drew to end the six with the bases loaded.
Reliever Al Alburquerque struck out the Boston side in the seventh to extend the combined no-hitter. Jose Veras entered in the eighth and struck out Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia. The fourth Tigers’ pitcher of the night, Drew Smyly, got David Ortiz to fly out to center to end the eighth.
The slight irony here is the Tigers’ bullpen is considered the team’s Achilles Heel. (Another example of why we should stop trying to predict this crazy game.)
There have only been 10 combined no-hitters in baseball history — a total less than total number perfect games thrown. The last combined no-hitter was thrown by the Mariners on June 8, 2012. Seattle used six pitchers to no-hit the Los Angeles Dodgers in a 1-0 victory. Don Larsen and Roy Halladay remain the only pitchers to throw no-hitters in the postseason.
Sunday night, the Red Sox get Max Scherzer — another strikeout artist.
Boston fans can applaud Drew for this catch that ended the ninth inning and prevented two more Tigers runs from scoring.
Buy this man a sno cone.