Giovanny Gallegos

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: