HOUSTON (AP) — Aaron Sanchez has been pulled after pitching six hitless innings in his Houston debut, and the Astros are working on a combined no-hitter through eight innings against the Seattle Mariners.
Sanchez struck out six, walked two and hit a batter with a pitch Saturday night — three days after he was acquired from Toronto at the trade deadline. He was replaced by Will Harris to start the seventh after throwing 92 pitches.
Harris and Joe Biagini, also obtained from the Blue Jays in the same deal that netted Sanchez, have each worked a hitless inning in relief. The Astros lead 7-0.
Houston manager AJ Hinch patted Sanchez on the chest after he finished the sixth, and pitching coach Brent Strom offered a hearty handshake.
The 27-year-old Sanchez was an All-Star in 2016, but has struggled this season and entered Saturday's game having lost 13 straight decisions to lead the majors with 14 losses.
Houston has a history of improving the performance of pitchers it acquires.
"We don't have magic dust," Hinch insisted after Sanchez was added.
Still, the right-hander was eager to get going with his new team.
"I'm sure there's things that are on their mind and things that are on my mind. It's an open line of communication here," Sanchez said. "I'm thrilled to see what they've got for me. I'm thrilled to kind of share my thoughts with them and bounce ideas off of each other and see where it goes."
Sanchez plunked Omar Narváez with two outs in the first inning and retired the next nine batters before walking Daniel Vogelbach with two outs in the fourth. Ryan Court hit a soft grounder with two outs in the fifth but first baseman Yuli Gurriel fielded it and tossed it to Sanchez, who dashed to first base just in front of Court for the third out.
Sanchez walked Mallex Smith with one out in the sixth, then retired the next two batters to end the inning.
Harris walked Domingo Santana with one out in the seventh, but J.P. Crawford grounded into a double play.
Less than a month ago, the Angels used two pitchers in a combined no-hitter against Seattle on a night when they honored late left-hander Tyler Skaggs by all wearing his No. 45 in their first home game since his death.
Mike Fiers pitched the most recent no-hitter for Houston against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Aug. 21, 2015. That gem came in his third start with the Astros, just 23 days after they obtained him in a trade, and it was his first career complete game.
Besides the Angels' combined effort, Fiers has the only other no-hitter in the majors this season, for Oakland on May 7 against Cincinnati.
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