DETROIT — Add another near miss in this 2013 baseball season — this time it was Detroit’s Anibal Sanchez falling just short of a no-hitter.
Sanchez’s bid was broken up with one out in the ninth inning Friday night when Minnesota’s Joe Mauer hit a clean single up the middle. That was the only hit the right-hander allowed in the Tigers’ 6-0 victory over the Twins. It was the fourth one-hitter of Sanchez’s career, to go along a no-hitter he threw as a rookie back in 2006.
“It’s not that I go to the mound and want to do something special, it’s just that I want to go nine innings, go deeper, get a good command, get a good game,” Sanchez said. “When I come to the eighth inning, I think about it. But when I come to the ninth inning, it’s really tough with those guys.”
After seven no-hitters in 2012, baseball is without one so far this season. There have been plenty of close calls. Before Sanchez, four other pitchers had already thrown one-hitters in 2013, according to STATS. And that doesn’t include Yu Darvish of Texas, Clay Buchholz of Boston and Adam Wainwright of St. Louis, all of whom had no-hitters in the eighth inning or later but couldn’t finish the job.
Darvish came within an out of a perfect game at Houston on April 2. He allowed a hit and didn’t finish the game.
Mauer, meanwhile, is making a habit of playing spoiler. It’s the third time in his career he’s broken up a no-hitter in the ninth inning, according to STATS.
“He’s nasty, and he had everything working tonight,” Mauer said. “Obviously, you know exactly what is happening, and you don’t want to get no-hit. I’m just up there trying to put the bat on the ball. He threw me a really good cutter and I was just able to square it up.”
It was Sanchez’s second gem in about a month — he set a franchise record with 17 strikeouts in eight marvelous innings against Atlanta on April 26.
Sanchez (5-4) struck out 12 on Friday and allowed three walks — staying remarkably calm on the mound all the while.
“He called me out to the mound. In the middle of a no-hitter,” Tigers catcher Alex Avila said. “I’ve been in the middle of a no-hitter a few times, in the sixth, seventh inning, I don’t think a pitcher’s ever called me out to the mound. … He just forgot what signs we were using when there’s a guy on second base.”
The home crowd gave Sanchez a standing ovation when he came out to start the ninth, and he immediately struck out Jamey Carroll. Mauer followed with a line drive up the middle — to almost the same spot where Pittsburgh’s Josh Harrison’s hit landed last year when he broke up a no-hit bid by Detroit’s Justin Verlander, also with two outs to go.
Sanchez instinctively reached up for Mauer’s hit, but there was no chance for anyone — least of all the pitcher — to catch it. Sanchez then jerked his head back and spun in frustration, but with a bit of a smile on his face.
“We got the hit, but that doesn’t change anything,” Mauer said. “He still blew us away.”
After Sanchez struck out the next two hitters to end the game, he shared a hug with Avila. Sanchez threw 130 pitches.
“In the end, it’s the result of my work. I try to figure out, to put my ball in the strike zone,” Sanchez said. “It’s a nice result, and I take it.”
Jordan Zimmermann of Washington, Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox, Shelby Miller of St. Louis and Jon Lester of Boston have also thrown one-hitters this season. Matt Harvey of the New York Mets allowed one hit in nine innings against the White Sox on May 7, but that game went 10 innings and he didn’t finish it.
The last-place Twins have lost 10 straight, and their starting lineup against Sanchez included four players hitting .212 or worse. Carroll drew a walk to lead off the game, and Sanchez issued another to Chris Parmelee in the second. Then the 29-year-old Sanchez, acquired by the Tigers from the Miami Marlins at midseason last year, settled into quite a groove.
He fanned Mauer for the third out of the third, then struck out the side the fourth.
Parmelee led off the fifth with a hard grounder up the middle that Sanchez was able to field himself. The following inning, Brian Dozier nearly broke up the no-hit bid when he hit a slow roller to shortstop Jhonny Peralta and almost beat the throw the first.
Sanchez then struck out Carroll and Mauer to end the Minnesota sixth.
With one out in the eighth, the Twins finally got another runner on base when Eduardo Escobar walked. That snapped a streak of 18 straight hitters retired by Sanchez, but he bounced back to retire pinch-hitter Ryan Doumit on a grounder to first. Pinch-hitter Chris Colabello followed, and with the crowd on its feet, he was called out on strikes.
Miguel Cabrera hit a two-run single in the second, upping his RBI total to 57. Don Kelly added a two-run homer the following inning.
Minnesota’s Samuel Deduno (0-1) allowed six runs and nine hits in 5 1-3 innings.
The most recent no-hitter thrown by a Tiger was in 2011, when Verlander tossed the second of his career. The Twins were no-hit last year by Jered Weaver of the Los Angeles Angels.
RED SOX 8, INDIANS 1
BOSTON — John Lackey allowed two hits in seven innings and Mike Carp hit a three-run homer.
It was the second straight strong performance by Lackey, who missed all last season following Tommy John elbow surgery. Last Sunday he gave up one hit and one unearned run in six innings of a 5-1 win at Minnesota. He left that game after a three-hour rain delay.
After a 44-minute delay before Friday’s game, Lackey (3-4) struck out eight, walked three and gave up an unearned run while pitching through a steady rain. He allowed only two of the 25 batters he faced to hit the ball out of the infield.
Lackey finished his night by striking out Jason Giambi and Mark Reynolds to end the seventh. As he walked toward the dugout, fans chanted, “Lackey! Lackey!”
ORIOLES 10, BLUE JAYS 6
TORONTO — Chris Davis hit his major league-leading 16th home run and Nick Markakis had three hits and three RBIs.
J.J. Hardy, Danny Valencia and Adam Jones all went deep as the Orioles matched a season high in runs and set a season high with four home runs. Baltimore has hit an ML-best 66 homers this season.
Melky Cabrera, Brett Lawrie and Adam Lind all hit solo homers for the Blue Jays.
Chris Tillman (4-2) allowed three runs and a season-high 10 hits in five innings to win for the fourth time in six starts. He walked none and matched a season high with seven strikeouts.
Brian Matusz got two outs in the sixth, Tommy Hunter pitched 2 1-3 innings and Darren O’Day finished in the ninth.
Blue Jays left-hander Sean Nolin had his his first loss since Aug. 27, 2011, when he was pitching for Class A Lansing. It was his major league debut.
YANKEES 9, RAYS 4
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Brett Gardner, Lyle Overbay and Jayson Nix each drove in two runs.
Gardner made it 5-0 with a two-run homer off Roberto Hernandez (2-5) during the fourth. The Yankees took a 3-0 lead in the second on Overbay’s two-run double and an RBI single by Nix.
David Phelps (3-2), who retired his first 13 batters before James Loney hit a one-out double in the fifth, allowed four runs and six hits in 7 2-3 innings. He left in the eighth after it appeared he was hit on the right arm by a drive up the middle by Ben Zobrist.
New York right fielder Curtis Granderson broke the knuckle of his left pinkie finger after getting hit by Cesar Ramos’ pitch in the fifth.
RANGERS 9, MARINERS 5
SEATTLE — Jeff Baker hit a two-run homer and Lance Berkman added a three-run shot, both off Seattle starter Joe Saunders.
Baker’s shot in the second inning gave the Rangers the lead, but it was Berkman’s fourth homer of the season into the left-field seats that broke the game open in the third and sent Saunders to his first career loss at Safeco Field. It was the first homer for Baker since May 10 and first for Berkman since May 11.
Saunders (3-5) entered the night 9-0 at Safeco Field, including a 3-0 mark with a 0.94 ERA this season. But Saunders gave up six earned runs and eight hits in just five innings and the Mariners lost their seventh straight.
Texas starter Justin Grimm (4-3) overcame a rough first few innings to pitch into the seventh despite giving up 10 hits. Grimm avoided a big inning, didn’t walk a batter and struck out five in beating the Mariners for the second time this season.
ATHLETICS 6, ASTROS 5
HOUSTON — Chris Young connected on a three-run homer in the ninth inning.
Young, who grew up in Houston, is hitting just .189 this season. But he’s a career .418 hitter at Minute Maid Park with seven home runs and 27 RBIs in 19 games in his hometown.
The A’s trailed 5-3 before closer Jose Veras (0-3) walked two of the first three batters of the inning to set the table for Young. He turned on a curveball to put Oakland up 6-5. Young stood at the plate for a couple of seconds admiring the towering shot before heading to first base.
Seth Smith had a solo pinch-hit homer for Oakland in the sixth inning.
Pat Neshek (1-0) pitched a scoreless eighth for the win and Grant Balfour walked two in the ninth before getting his 10th save. He has converted 28 straight save opportunities since last season.
ANGELS 5, ROYALS 2
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Mike Trout had his 21st multi-hit game and Jason Vargas pitched into the eighth inning.
Trout had two hits, stole his 11th base and scored two runs, including one on a wild pitch. He is hitting .366 in May.
Vargas (4-3) allowed two runs and five hits over 7 1-3 innings to win is fourth straight decision in five May starts. He is 12-4 in May since the start of the 2009 season.
Luke Hochevar (0-1), who replaced Mendoza, could not keep the 2-1 lead for long. Chris Iannetta homered for the second straight night to tie it 2-2 before the Angels broke it open in the seventh.
WHITE SOX 4, MARLINS 3, 11 innings
CHICAGO — Jeff Keppinger drove in the winning run on a single in the 11th and John Danks was solid in his season debut and the Chicago White Sox beat the Miami Marlins 4-3 on Friday night.
Paul Konerko started the rally with a one-out single. Pinch runner Tyler Greene moved to third when Dayan Viciedo singled off the glove of second baseman Derek Dietrich.
After Ryan Webb (1-2) intentionally walked Conor Gillaspie, Keppinger singled to left field.
Nate Jones (1-4) pitched two-thirds of an inning for the win.
Danks allowed three runs and four hits in six innings in his first start since undergoing shoulder surgery in August to repair a capsule tear and remove debris in his rotator cuff and biceps. He struck out five, walked none and hit a batter in the opener of the interleague series.
NATIONALS 5, PHILLIES 2
WASHINGTON — Jordan Zimmermann became the National League’s first eight-game winner, and the Washington Nationals followed a calamitous road trip with a winning start to a homestand.
Zimmermann (8-2) allowed two runs and six hits with no walks over seven innings — actually raising his ERA to 1.71 — on an unseasonably chilly and windy night in the nation’s capital. There was at least a bit of heat from the Nationals’ bats, which have been going through such a cold spell that manager Davey Johnson said before the game he wouldn’t shave again until his lineup started hitting.
As it turned out, the Nationals scored their most runs in a week, and they got four or more in the same inning for the first time in almost a month.
Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick (4-3) had his shortest outing of the season.
REDS 7, CUBS 4
CINCINNATI — Joey Votto extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a homer, and Ryan Hanigan and Brandon Phillips also homered, powering the Reds to their fourth straight win.
The Reds have won 12 of their past 15 games, surging to a season-high 12 games over .500. They’ve dominated the Cubs, winning 15 of their past 17 in the series.
Chicago is last in the NL Central, having lost a season-high five straight. The Cubs (18-29) slid a season-low 11 games under .500.
Votto and Hanigan homered in the fourth inning off Scott Feldman (4-4). Phillips connected off Hector Rondon in the eighth.
Bronson Arroyo (5-4) gave up three runs in six innings, including Feldman’s first career homer.
BREWERS 2, PIRATES 1
MILWAUKEE — Marco Estrada gave up one run over seven innings and Alex Gonzalez had a two-run double, leading the Milwaukee Brewers to a victory over the Pirates.
Estrada (4-2) retired the first 14 Pittsburgh batters he faced before a two-out bloop single to left field by Neil Walker in the fifth inning gave the Pirates their first base runner.
Estrada struck out eight and didn’t walk a batter. He fanned eight of 12 Pittsburgh batters at one point and improved his career record to 5-0 against the Pirates, including eight starts.
Four Brewers relievers combined to record the final six outs. Francisco Rodriguez retired the final batter to record his first save of the season and 295th of his career.
METS 5, BRAVES 5, Suspended
NEW YORK — Evan Gattis had a two-run, pinch-hit single in the top of the eighth, then the Mets rallied to tie it in a downpour in the bottom half before the Atlanta Braves and New York were suspended by rain with the score 5-5 Friday night.
The teams will resume play with none out in the top of the ninth inning on Saturday at 6:10 p.m. The regularly scheduled game is set to start 7:15 p.m.
With rain starting to fall heavily, Gattis put Atlanta up 5-3 with a bases-loaded single off Greg Burke. The Mets tied it in a wet and wild bottom half, taking advantage of center fielder B.J. Upton’s error on Daniel Murphy’s RBI single and scoring on a wild pitch by Anthony Varvaro.
The game was suspended after a 75-minute delay.
ROCKIES 5, GIANTS 0
SAN FRANCISCO — Michael Cuddyer homered and hit a two-run double after coming off the disabled list, Tyler Chatwood beat San Francisco for the second time in seven days and the Rockies blanked the Giants.
Carlos Gonzalez also hit a solo homer and D.J. LeMahieu added an RBI single as the Rockies beat two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum (3-4) for the second time in a week.
The Rockies, swept in a three-game series at AT&T Park last month, won their fourth in a row in the rivalry for the first time since 2006.
Chatwood (3-0) allowed four hits in six scoreless innings.
DIAMONDBACKS 5, PADRES 2
PHOENIX — Brandon McCarthy pitched seven effective innings for his second straight win and Paul Goldschmidt hit a two-run double to cap Arizona’s five-run seventh inning, lifting the Diamondbacks to a victory over the Padres.
Arizona managed two hits over the first six innings against Eric Stults (4-4) before breaking it open in the seventh.
Martin Prado had a run-scoring double, pinch-hitter Wil Nieves followed with another and A.J. Pollock added an RBI single for his third hit. Goldschmidt capped it with a double off Anthony Bass to put Arizona up 5-1.
McCarthy (2-3) allowed a run and five hits and Heath Bell worked around two runners in the ninth for his seven save.
Everth Cabrera led off the eighth inning with a homer off David Hernandez for the Padres, who have lost three straight.
CARDINALS 7, DODGERS 0
LOS ANGELES — Lance Lynn pitched two-hit ball over six innings, and David Freese and Allen Craig each homered and drove in three runs, helping the Cardinals beat the Dodgers for their third win in a row.
The last-place Dodgers’ fifth loss in seven games came a few hours after team president Stan Kasten said manager Don Mattingly was not in immediate danger of being fired.
Lynn (7-1) struck out nine and walked one for the NL Central leaders. The only hits he gave up were a single to Carl Crawford to open the game and a double to Juan Uribe in the third.
Chris Capuano (1-3) allowed six runs — five earned — and six hits in five-plus innings. The left-hander struck out four and walked three.