The Zilch Machine Took Over MLB’s League Championship Series

Near perfect pitching plagued hitters and led to 1-0 shutouts in both MLB League Championship Series games on Saturday.

The Detroit Tigers came out blazing in the Game 1 of the ALCS and nearly no-hit the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park for the first time in 55 years. Detroit’s Anibal Sanchez went six innings and struck out 12 Red Sox. Al Alburquerque, Jose Veras and Drew Smyly carried the no-no to the ninth, but Joaquin Benoit couldn’t finish it off, as Daniel Nava collected Boston’s first, and only, hit of the night.

Outside of Boston, most of the baseball world was itching to see the first LCS no-hitter, while Red Sox Nation held onto the hope that their squad could scratch out two runs and not only crash the no-no party, but win the game. .

Sanchez was masterful, but he threw a gang of pitches and walked six guys. Despite the occasional wildness, he was able to keep Boston hitters off balance and off the scoreboard. It was almost the type of night you tell your kids about detail for detail. No-hitters in the playoffs happen about as frequently as a U.S. government shutdown, so it would have been a really big deal.

Don Larsen’s famed perfect game no-hitter in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series, is the only one ever thrown in 628 WS games. His performance against the Brooklyn Dodgers on Oct. 8 , 1956 is considered the crown jewel of postseason pitching prowess.

Roy “Doc” Halladay threw a no-no in Game 1 of the 2010 NLDS, but there has never been one in 440 League Championship games. Boston almost ended up on the wrong end of baseball’s version of an NBA dunk poster.

Sanchez was roughed up by the A’s in his ALDS start, giving up six runs over 4 1/3 innings, but this outing was more reminiscent of last season when the righthander dominated the Yankees in Game 2 of the ALCS in the Bronx, throwing seven scoreless innings of three-hit gutter music.

Nobody was feeling themselves like Tigers skipper Jim Leyland, who before the game predicted a return to form for Sanchez.

“I think he'll be back in the groove now,” Leyland said . “He led this league in earned run average; that's pretty impressive.”

The golden arms crew was also in full effect in the afternoon game, as the Cardinals pitching staff struck out a combined 13 batters and limited Los Angeles to a puny .156 batting average.

Rookie sensation Michael Wacha “Flaka Flames” tossed 6 2/3 gutsy innings to earn his second win of the postseason, allowing no runs on five hits with eight strikeouts and a walk. Fireballer Trevor Rosenthal closed it out in the ninth, fanning the sides and putting St. Louis up 2-0 on the LA Dodgers, who have one day to chill before they go at it again on Monday at 5:07 pm.

The Cardinals effort was thorough, but the Tigers'was almost epic. Detroit’s pitching staff was able to catch major wreck against one of MLB’s most complete offenses. Maybe that scare in Oakland has lit a fire under the Tigers because Sanchez’s outing followed Justin Verlander’s masterpiece (no-hitter into the seventh in clinching the ALDS in five games over Oakland).  Boston’s Jon Lester was stingier than the Grinch in a recession too, only allowing one run, but Detroit was on some Cell Block 74 stuff and it’s quite obvious that every run in these playoffs will be cherished like the last glass of water on earth.
JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.