Aaron Sanchez
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Astros toss combined no-hitter against Mariners

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Astros right-hander Aaron Sanchez and relievers Will Harris, Joe Biagini, and Chris Devenski no-hit the Mariners on Saturday, marking the 12th no-hitter (and second combined no-no) in franchise history.

Saturday’s 9-0 win also marked Sanchez’s first official outing with the Astros following his trade from the Blue Jays at Wednesday’s trade deadline. After taking 10 losses in his last 12 starts in Toronto, Sanchez looked unhittable against Seattle. He issued just two walks over six innings and struck out six of 21 batters, finishing his run with a pitch count of 92.

In the seventh, right-handed reliever Will Harris subbed in for Sanchez. He preserved the no-hitter for another inning, inducing a groundout from Daniel Vogelbach, walking Domingo Santana on five pitches, and getting J.P. Crawford to ground into an inning-ending double play.

In the eighth, Joe Biagini—another piece of the Sanchez trade—stepped in to carry the no-hitter a little further along. His first inning in an Astros’ uniform went about as well as Harris’ had: He induced a groundout from Austin Nola, walked Ryan Court, landed a strikeout against Keon Broxton, and encouraged another groundout from Mallex Smith to bring the team within three outs of their first combined no-hitter since 2003.

Behind the combined efforts of Sanchez, Harris, and Biagini, the Astros mustered a substantial nine-run lead, highlighted by a pair of doubles from Michael Brantley and José Altuve’s 356-foot home run — his 18th of the season — in the fifth.

With three outs remaining, Houston skipper A.J. Hinch turned the ball over to Chris Devenski. It’s been a touch-and-go season for the 28-year-old right-hander, who carried a 4.31 ERA, 3.2 BB/9, and 9.9 SO/9 into the game. On Saturday, however, he was flawless, utilizing just 12 pitches as he retired Kyle Seager, Omar Narvaez, and Vogelbach in order.

Before Saturday, the Astros hadn’t seen a no-hitter in nearly three years. Mike Fiers was the last to do it for Houston, in a 3-0 affair against the Dodgers during the summer of 2015. The Mariners, on the other hand, are the most recent MLB team to be on the receiving end of a no-hitter, as they were blanked by the Angels’ Taylor Cole and Felix Peña just last month. Following the Astros’ impressive feat, the Mariners are also the first team to be no-hit twice in a single season since the 2015 Dodgers.

Japanese Baseball to begin June 19

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Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.

The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.

The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.

In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.