Anibal Sanchez
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Aníbal Sánchez took NLCS no-hit bid into the eighth

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The National League Championship Series began with a bang on Friday — or, rather, without one, as Nationals hurler Aníbal Sánchez tossed 7 2/3 no-hit innings against the Cardinals.

With the series lead up for grabs in Game 1, the veteran right-hander managed to improve on what has already been a very solid start to the postseason so far. He previously pitched for the Nationals in Game 3 of the NLDS, issuing one run, two walks, and nine strikeouts over five innings before the bullpen blew the lead in the seventh. On Friday, he did his best to make sure the Cardinals wouldn’t get a similar opportunity. Sánchez expended 91 pitches through 7 2/3 frames, allowing one walk (and two hit-by-pitch) and striking out five of 25 batters faced.

Behind him, the Nationals mustered up two runs of support against St. Louis righty Miles Mikolas. In the second inning, Howie Kendrick led off with a double into the right-center field gap, and later came around to score after Yan Gomes pounced on a slider from Mikolas and returned it to left field for his first RBI of the series. In the seventh, with Mikolas out of the game and Giovanny Gallegos, Andrew Miller, and John Brebbia clearly struggling to curb Washington’s offense, Kendrick returned with an RBI single to pad the lead, 2-0.

Had Sánchez completed the no-hitter, he would have been the first to do so in a Nationals uniform since Max Scherzer‘s twin no-nos in June and October of the 2015 regular season, and the first pitcher of any MLB team to complete a postseason no-hitter since Roy Halladay shut out the Reds during Game 1 of the 2010 NLDS. Even without that distinction, however, the righty ended his bid in an impressive fashion:

Zack Wheeler will miss at least two starts when his wife gives birth

Zack Wheeler miss starts
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Per The Athletic’s Matt Gelb, Phillies starter Zack Wheeler will miss at least two starts when his wife goes into labor and gives birth to their first child, expected to be later this month. Wheeler, in fact, is not sure if he will return to play at all once their child is born.

Wheeler said, “We just have to see how things are here at the field and at the stadium. I’m happy with what I see so far. But things could change, especially once our baby’s born. I always think about what’s going on around me. Is it safe? Is it OK? Literally every single day. I have to just ask myself that. I’m going to continue to keep asking myself that every day.”

Wheeler, 30, inked a five-year, $118 million contract with the Phillies in December. He is slated for the No. 2 spot in the rotation behind Aaron Nola. Last season, with the Mets, Wheeler posted a 3.96 ERA with 195 strikeouts and 50 walks over 195 1/3 innings.

The No. 5 spot in the Phillies’ rotation is currently up for grabs between Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, Ranger Suárez, and prospect Spencer Howard. One of the remaining three could fill in for Wheeler when he needs time off, temporarily or otherwise.