Jonathan Sanchez is a perfect example of how hard sports betting can be. The Giants pitcher was not in a good place heading into last night’s start. He had been dumped into the bullpen after losing his last four starts, and eight of ten decisions on the year. His career record was just 15-26, and he was allowing more than five runs per game this year – just as he had in each of the previous two seasons. His ratio of strikeouts to walks was far worse than it was the last couple of years. He had managed to claw his way back into the starting rotation for just one reason – Randy Johnson was hurt and the Giants had no other better option. In short, Sanchez was a hard pitcher to love – especially when he was favored at -135.
So, what happens? He goes out and pitches as well as a pitcher can. He struck out 11 hitters in a complete game no-hitter that was mostly as dominant as the stats suggest. There was one near home run in the ninth saved by a spectacular Aaron Rowand catch, but that was it. He didn’t walk anyone. In fact, he was one error away from a perfect game. Third baseman Pablo Sandoval was sore, so he was pulled after the sixth and replaced with second baseman Juan Uribe. Uribe was not familiar with the position and bobbled a hard hit bouncer. Uribe will have a hard time sleeping for a while after that one. Sanchez is one of only six pitchers ever to strike out 11 or more without a walk in a no-hitter, and the only one of those not to have a perfect game.
There’s an interesting side note to this game. Sanchez’ father had arrived the day before from Puerto Rico and was in the stands to watch the game. He hadn’t been to a lot of games first hand, and had a close relationship with his son. His presence was obviously a big boost to the pitcher. Maybe this is a new handicapping angle – cross-referencing the day’s pitching references with recent travel manifestos, then betting on the guys who have proud papas overseeing things.