Something magical always seems to be in the air at Minute Maid Park every year when the annual Astros Hall of fame night arrives on the schedule. Houston honors the great players of the franchise from Craig Biggio to Nolan Ryan. Every inductee receives a plaque like the ones that are handed out to players enshrined in Cooperstown, New York at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. All players honored by the Astros this season displayed a bright orange suit coat with a patch of the team’s hall of fame logo on the left-hand side. Hall of Fame night isn’t just a night for honoring the Great Astros of the past, but also a night for watching the Astros of the present dominate in front of 43,000 plus people.
This year, domination was the key word.
The now struggling Seattle Mariners who started off the 2019 campaign at a staggering 8-1, faced a familiar divisional leader, looking to not put another loss on their record. Houston started the night with Aaron Sanchez on the mound with his curveball looking sharp, and his fastball averaging almost 94 miles per hour. Sanchez would last 6 innings surrendering no hits before being replaced by Will Harris. Offensively, the Astros were doing something that is a *very* important factor in winning a baseball game. Getting base hits. Houston had a 3-0 lead after Sanchez threw his 92nd and final pitch of the night. All eyes shifted on Will Harris to see if he could keep the magic going for the final three innings. Harris was able to ease through the seventh inning all in part of a double play. The seventh inning was all that Will Harris would see on the night, but he accomplished the most important of his job on the night. Not allowing a Mariner to reach first base safely.
Seven innings in the books. All zeros on the Seattle Board.
Oh, and the Astros had a 6 spot on their side of the scoreboard.
This gave the third pitcher in the Houston uniform, Joe Biagini the top of the 8th inning to get three outs. Three outs seemed to be a relatively simple task for the Astros. Houston kept it simple. Biagini got the three required outs to end the 8th inning. All 37,000 plus fans in attendance held a collective breath. A single half inning of three up, three down and the Astros would complete a four pitcher combined no hitter. All Houston closer Chris Devenski had to do was retire three more batters.
Ground out to first base. Two to go. Times like these are always the most nerve wracking since countless no hitters have been broken up with less than three outs to go in the final inning. H-Town was extremely close to being rewarded with a historic pitching performance from four pitchers on (of all nights) Hall of Fame night. Devenski and the Houston Astros Were able to retire Omar Narvaez On a Strike out that was tipped into the catching glove of (re-acquired) catcher Martin Maldonado.
One more out and the Houston Astros would make history at Minute Maid Park. Retiring their first 26 batters seemed to come naturally, but the Astros still had that final out to record. Three more strikes, a ball hit into the glove of an outfielder, or any other way an out can be recorded was the only thing separating Houston from History. On a full count, and on his eleventh pitch, Devenski popped up Daniel Vogelbach into right field. Josh Reddick called off Jake Marisnick, and the 27th out ball was in his hands.
Houston has seemed to pick up a skill that no other major League team can fully grasp now. Dominating pitching. SI’s John Taylor reported on the dominating performances by expressing that it just doesn’t make sense. The Astros took Aaron Sanchez, who had been grasping a 6.07 ERA, and had him pitch six, yes six, no hit innings. Oh, and this was Sanchez’s first game as an Astro. This makes him only the second pitcher in the history of Major League Baseball to be included in a combined no hitter. The last time this happened was all the way back in 1990.
If you give Houston your scraps, be aware of those scraps coming back to bite you in a time when it actually matters.