DETROIT (AP) — Joe Mauer is becoming quite the spoiler.
For the third time in his career, Mauer broke up a no-hitter in the ninth inning, lining a clean single off Detroit’s Anibal Sanchez on Friday night. That was the only hit for Minnesota, and the Twins lost 6-0 to the Tigers.
“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.”
According to STATS, Mauer also broke up a ninth-inning no-hit bid by Gavin Floyd of the Chicago White Sox in 2008 — and he ended a combined no-hit effort by the Texas Rangers in the final inning of a 2010 game.
Sanchez fell two outs shy of his second career no-hitter, but thanks to Mauer it was just another near miss this season. Aside from Sanchez, four other pitchers have also thrown one-hitters in 2013, according to STATS. There hasn’t been a no-hitter this year.
“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.”
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 hit 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 he struck out the next two hitters to end the game, Sanchez shared a hug with catcher Alex Avila. He threw 130 pitches.
“You just congratulate that guy,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He threw a hell of a ballgame against us. That’s the whole story of this game.”
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 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.
NOTES: Sanchez’s no-hitter came as a rookie on Sept. 6, 2006, against Arizona. He was pitching for the Marlins at the time. … Sanchez threw 121 pitches before being taken out of his 17-strikeout game against the Braves, but there was no way manager Jim Leyland was pulling him Friday while the no-hit bid was in progress.
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