DETROIT — Anibal Sanchez took a no-hitter into the ninth inning before Minnesota's Joe Mauer broke it up with a one-out single, and that was the only hit the Detroit right-hander allowed in the Tigers' 6-0 victory over the Twins on Friday night.
Sanchez fell two outs shy of his second career no-hitter, but thanks to Mauer it was just another near miss this season. There have already been five one-hitters this year, according to STATS.
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.
The home crowd gave him a standing ovation when he came out to start the ninth, and he immediately struck out Jamey Carroll. Mauer, followed with a clean 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.
After he struck out the next two hitters to end the game, he shared a hug with catcher Alex Avila. Sanchez threw 130 pitches.
Jordan Zimmermann, Chris Sale, Shelby Miller and Jon Lester have also thrown one-hitters this season. That list doesn't even include Yu Darvish. The Texas star came within an out of a perfect game at Houston on April 2, but he allowed a hit and didn't finish the game.
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 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.