Sanchez's feat no surprise to Friars

Sanchez's feat no surprise to Friars

SAN FRANCISCO -- As strange as it might sound, Padres pitcher Kevin Correia didn't find it entirely surprising that Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez threw a no-hitter Friday against his San Diego teammates.

No, that's no indictment on the Padres, who struggle at times to score runs, but more so an endorsement for a former teammate.

And while no-hitters are uncommon and the Giants hadn't had one since 1976, based on ability alone, Correia -- a former teammate of Sanchez's -- said the left-hander has every bit of upside as any of the pitchers in the Giants' rotation.

Yes, that includes the two 10-game winners, Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum, who will go to the All-Star Game next week, and veterans Randy Johnson, who won his 300th game earlier this season, and former American League Cy Young Award winner Barry Zito.

Correia said Sanchez, who struck out 11 on his way to his no-hitter in a 8-0 victory over the Padres, can be that good.

"With his stuff, if he's got command like that, he's got as good of stuff as anyone in the game," Correia said. "He's as good as the other guys on that staff when his command is as good as it was tonight."

This a night after Lincecum took a no-hitter into the seventh inning only to have Tony Gwynn break it up with a clean single. There would be no such hit on Friday, though.

"It's embarrassing," Padres left fielder Chase Headley said. "Not taking anything away from [Sanchez]. To have that happen is not a very good feeling."

Sanchez didn't walk a single batter Friday, a far cry from the control and command issues that sent him to the bullpen last month, a demotion any way you cut it. Earlier this season, Sanchez walked seven batters in one start.

"I think to our guys who had faced him before, it was unexpected," said Gwynn. "I watched him on film today. I knew that he threw hard, but it also looked like he didn't know where it was going."

That wasn't an issue against the Padres, who only got one runner on base, and that came in the eighth inning, when, with one out, Headley chopped a ball at third baseman Juan Uribe, who couldn't corral the grounder and was charged with an error.

Sanchez, in his first start back in the rotation since his demotion to the bullpen, pounded the strike zone, showing the Padres a live, mid-90s fastball in the early innings before he began to mix in a nasty slider and changeup.

Previous no-hitters vs. San Diego
The Padres, who have never thrown a no-hitter in their 40-plus seasons, have now been the victims of a no-hitter seven times.
Date
Opponent
Pitcher(s)
6/12/70 vs. Pittsburgh Dock Ellis
9/2/72 at Chicago (NL) Milt Pappas
8/5/73 at Atlanta Phil Niekro
9/11/91 at Atlanta Kent Mercker, Mark Wohlers, Alejandro Pena
5/12/01 vs. Florida A.J. Burnett
9/3/01 vs. St. Louis Bud Smith
7/10/09 vs. San Francisco Jonathan Sanchez
Fittingly, it was a slider that Sanchez got Padres rookie Everth Cabrera to look at for a called third strike to end the game.

"I'm pretty sure he went through the lineup one full time without throwing any off-speed pitches," said Gwynn, who struck out twice and lined softly out to first base. "I said it yesterday, you get guys throwing 97 mph -- right- or left-handed -- and he's locating it and locating his other off-speed pitches, it's going to be tough. It makes for an uncomfortable at-bat."

There wasn't a shortage of those Friday, as the Padres were no-hit for the first time since Sept. 3, 2001, when Bud Smith of the St. Louis Cardinals tossed a no-no in a game played at Qualcomm Stadium.

The Padres, who have been no-hit seven times in their 40-year existence, have yet to toss a no-hitter of their own.

The no-hitter was the third one Padres manager Bud Black, a former left-handed pitcher for the Giants, has witnessed, the previous two coming during his playing days.

One came in 1992 when Kevin Gross of the Los Angeles Dodgers no-hit the Giants. The other occurred two seasons earlier in 1990 when Toronto's David Stieb tossed a no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians.

On Friday, Black, the Padres third-year manager, watched as Sanchez earned his first career complete game, no-hitter and nearly a perfect game.

"He's got a good arm, he's got good stuff. I thought the velocity was up from where I've seen it," Black said. "You combine that with the ball-strike ratio and efficiency early, he carried the momentum as he got into the later parts of the game."

Sanchez struck out the side in the seventh inning. He got Eliezer Alfonzo swinging at a slider away for the final out of the eighth inning. Then in the ninth inning, Sanchez got Luis Rodriguez to ground out before nearly allowing a hit to Edgar Gonzalez, who ripped a Sanchez fastball, sending it to center field where Aaron Rowand tracked the ball down, making a catch while his back crashed into the wall.

"It's frustrating," Gonzalez said. "I felt that when I hit that, I didn't think it would be caught. But that's what happens when you throw a no-hitter. You've got to have the stuff, you have to have guys hit balls right at people and you have to have luck."

For Sanchez, he clearly had all three working in his favor Friday against the Padres. No, these no-hitters aren't commonplace, though Correia has seen enough of Sanchez in the past to know that anything is possible if he's on top of his game.

"He's always had the stuff to do something like that," said Correia, who pitched with the Giants from 2003-08.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.