By Glenn Giangrande
When Jonathan Sanchez no-hit the Padres on Friday, a couple of former Yankees were smiling along with him.
Well, at least one was. I’m not so sure about Randy Johnson.
The Big Unit’s tenure in pinstripes is not remembered too fondly despite 34 wins over two years. I’d actually guess that Johnson frowns at the mere mention of New York, but you have to think he had at least a laugh or two while watching Sanchez celebrate. The 26-year-old left-hander threw the Giants’ first no-hitter since 1976 while making a spot start in place of the future Hall-of-Fame lefty. When Johnson was forced onto the disabled list with a strained left shoulder on July 8, Sanchez was the one who got the call to work in his place.
Dave Righetti made sure he was ready.
In his 10th season as the Giants’ pitching coach, Righetti has made a name for himself as one of the top tutors in baseball. A couple more years and people will know him as much for his work in San Francisco as they do for his unforgettable no-hitter as a Yankee on July 4, 1983, when he made the Red Sox a footnote to history. Sanchez had been dropped from the Giants’ starting rotation in late June, and Righetti went to work with him. The adjustments bore fruit. Only an eighth-inning error by Juan Uribe prevented Sanchez from achieving total perfection, though we can’t assume Sanchez would have stayed perfect even if Uribe did indeed make that play.
Still, Sanchez gave the fans at AT&T Park a night to remember with help from a couple of ex-Yankees. One accidentally opened the door, the other showed him the path, and the youngster walked into history.