As long as bats and balls connect on warm summer evenings, baseball never will cease to amaze.
The Giants' 33-year no-hitter drought ended at China Basin on Friday night, and the pitcher who threw the nine innings of brilliance was not a Cy Young Award winner, nor a 300-game winner, nor a pitcher with a nine-figure contract. It was a pitcher so bad this year he was banished to the bullpen last month, a man who had not thrown a complete game in 50 big-league starts.
It was Jonathan Sanchez, a 26-year-old left-hander who until this night was the personification of pitching promise unfulfilled. Now, his name is etched forever on the list of this franchise's great achievements.
In an 8-0 victory, with his father watching him start a major-league game for the first time, Sanchez no-hit the San Diego Padres and nearly had a perfect game. The only baserunner was Chase Headley, who reached on an error by third baseman Juan Uribe with one out in the eighth inning.
It was the first no-hitter by a Giant since John Montefusco's in Atlanta on Sept. 29, 1976, the first ever at China Basin, the 17th in franchise history and the first in the majors since the Cubs' Carlos Zambrano no-hit Houston last season.
And across America today, people will look at a staff that features Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Randy Johnson and say, Jonathan Sanchez?
"If you look at this staff he wouldn't be the one you'd pick," said manager Bruce Bochy, who has been like a ping-pong master bouncing Sanchez between the rotation and bullpen over the last three seasons, hoping his pitcher could find it.
Sanchez had not started a game since June 22 nor won since May 25. He was 2-8 with a 5.30 ERA this season and started Friday only because Johnson, whose turn he took, injured his shoulder Sunday.
"We had a toast in the clubhouse after the game, and Sanchy said, 'I don't want to go to the 'pen after this start,' " Bochy said.
Afterward, Sanchez expressed his greatest satisfaction that he got to share this moment with his father Sigfredo, who flew in from Puerto Rico to watch this game after Jonathan's brother suggested he go.
"I'm so proud that he was here with me," Sanchez said.
The "toast", of course, was the guys carousing in the locker room and drenching him with Bud.