Dios Es Grande, Papi

July 11

              Like I’ve been saying all along, you can’t trade Jonathan Sanchez.

              Seriously, you couldn’t have traded him in the last month, anyway.  He went from being promising prospect to trade bait to the dried-out, left-over frosting on the side of the cake mix bowl.   Now, Jonathan Sanchez is the first Giant to throw a no-hitter in 33 years, the first Giant lefty to do so in 80 years.

              What must the rest of baseball be thinking about the Giants?  Jeez, they’ve got Lincecum and Cain and Johnson, and now Sanchez is starting to get it?   Not only does he throw a no-hitter, but he was a hair’s-breadth away from a perfect game.  Juan Uribe, who had been moved over to third after Pablo Sandoval was taken out of the game, booted a chopper in the eighth inning.  That was the only baserunner of the night.  Uribe might be the loneliest guy in town.

             That was a bit of misfortune, but as with every no-hitter Sanchez needed a little luck, too.  First of all, the Padres have the worst offense in the majors, so he couldn’t have faced a better team.  Tim Lincecum took a no-hitter into the seventh inning the night before.  But they are still major leaguers.

             Adrian Gonzalez hit a long fly to left in the 8th inning that would have been out during the daytime.  The same story for his brother Edgar, who held everyone breathless with one out in the ninth when he sent Aaron Rowand to the center-field wall.   Then Sanchez got a charitable called third strike on Everth Cabrera to end the game.  However, Sanchez’ slider and curve were working so well, you had the feeling he would have rung up Cabrera on the next pitch.         

             That was the cherry on top, his 11th strikeout.  How good was Sanchez?  He struck out one batter on a slider that hit him.   How unlikely was this no-hitter?  He hadn’t even thrown a complete game in the majors.         

             Sanchez knew this was a huge opportunity, with Randy Johnson on the disabled list.   His family knew it, too.  They showed up in support, including his father Sigfredo, who had never seen him start a major league game.   It was hard to turn off the waterworks after the game, when dad hugged son in the dugout and told him “Dios es grande (God is great ).”

             Randy Johnson celebrated like a proud baseball papa.  He and Sanchez have a few things in common.  They have similar throwing styles and similar stuff, although Johnson threw much harder when he came up.  Both struggled with consistency early in their major league careers.   Now the man who replaced Johnson in the rotation joins him in the no-no club.

             In a game with many interesting sidelights, the man who called the game behind the plate, and now finds himself in the Giants’ history book, wasn’t supposed to be there.  Eli Whiteside was a late replacement for Bengie Molina, whose wife had gone into labor.   Sanchez only shook off Whiteside’s signs a few times, and that was a good plan.

             Duane Kuiper joked on the Giants’ television broadcast that maybe Sanchez has earned another start.   Whether this means Sanchez has had a pitching epiphany remains to be seen, but his next outing will be fascinating.  Not because I think he’s going to tie Johnny Van Der Meer’s record, but because I want to see how he handles it when he encounters difficulty.  And it will happen.  In the past he has withered like Jell-O in the desert at the first sign of trouble. 

             That’s the emotional side.  On the technical side, during his time in the bullpen Sanchez apparently tweaked his delivery.  He kept his three-quarter arm-slot more consistently last night and wasn’t trailing behind his body as much, so pitches weren’t getting away from him.  Maybe the new delivery has helped him between the ears, too.

             If the Sanchez everyone in the organization had envisioned has arrived, there won’t be any trade talk.  At least not about him, and the Giants can give the 45-year-old Johnson the kid-glove treatment in the second half.  

             For now, Sanchez and his family can spend the All-Star break basking in the glow of one great night.  One very unlikely night.  Even a Cy Young winner was in awe.  Lincecum said, “it was f—ing amazing.”

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One Response to “Dios Es Grande, Papi”

  1. Don Says:

    Well stated Ray, as usual.

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