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Aníbal Sánchez retires 20 straight Dodgers’ hitters after struggling early in Nationals Park

Nationals’ starter Aníbal Sánchez dominated the Dodgers after they scored a run and loaded the bases in the first...

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Washington Nationals Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Aníbal Sánchez faced the Los Angeles Dodgers in LA back on May 10th, giving up six hits and three earned runs in a 4 13-inning outing, taking the loss in a 5-0 game which left him (0-6) in his first eight starts with Washington, over which the 35-year-old, 14-year veteran had a 5.27 ERA, 24 walks, 39 Ks, and a .265/.354/.471 line against in 41 IP.

Sánchez went on the 10-Day IL one start later with a hamstring issue, but he returned to the rotation two weeks later and was unbeaten heading into his second start of the year against the Dodgers, going (6-0) in nine starts with a 2.75 ERA, 13 walks, 40 Ks, and a .220/.276/.370 line against in 52 13 IP over that stretch.

Going up against Los Angeles again, the right-hander ran into trouble in the first, giving up three singles and a run four batters in, 1-0.

A walk to Max Muncy loaded the bases with one out, but Sánchez managed to escape the opening frame with just one run allowed (and a total of 31 pitches), getting an out at home on a swinging bunt by A.J. Pollock, and a groundout to first by Corey Seager.

Sánchez needed just 26 pitches to get through the next three inning, as he got it together in a hurry, and he was up to 14-straight Dodgers set down after LA loaded the bases in the first once he retired the side in order in the top of the fifth.

A 12-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth made it 17 in a row set down, and an eight-pitch seventh inning made it 20 straight Dodgers’ batters retired. That was it for Sánchez, whose spot in the order was due up third in the bottom of the seventh.

Aníbal Sánchez’s Line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 Ks, 89 P, 58 S, 10/2 GO/FO.

His teammates tied it up in the sixth, extending Sánchez’s unbeaten streak, but the bullpen gave up three runs in the eighth in what ended up a 4-2 win for the Dodgers.

Sánchez generated 10 swinging strikes, and got 23 called strikes, 11 of them on his fastball.

His velocity ranged rom 67.1 MPH (on a ridiculous changeup) to 92.7 on his fastball, and he induced 10 ground ball outs from the 25 batters he faced.

He told reporters afterwards that after he minimized the damage in the first he was not going to let the Dodgers get anything else.

“After that, I say: ‘OK, that’s the only thing that they are going to do against me,’” Sánchez told reporters, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, after the game.

“I just need to execute every pitch that I throw,” he added, according to MASN’s Byron Kerr’s report on the outing, “because I know I faced [seven] hitters in the first inning. I know right away the leadoff is going to come back [around]. I need to just execute my pitch and keep everything involved after that.”

His manager’s take on his outing? “Awesome.”

“He was really, really good,” Davey Martinez said after the loss.

“He gave us seven innings. We had to pinch hit for him in that situation, down a run, so, but he was great.”