Anibal Sanchez made an impressive return to the Detroit Tigers' rotation, allowing just one run on three hits over five innings in a 9-2 win over the Cleveland Indians. Out the last two weeks with a stiff right shoulder, Sanchez was activated off the 15-day disabled list earlier on Saturday.
Having outscored the Indians 16-4 over the past two games, the Tigers increased their lead in the AL Central to 3 1/2 games over the second place Tribe with the victory.
Sanchez (7-5) was kept on a strict pitch count by the Tigers, pulled after five innings, four strikeouts, one walk and 73 pitches. The Tigers used four relievers over the final four innings, allowing three runs and five hits.
The Tribe were forced dive deep into their bullpen as well, thanks to Carlos Carrasco (0-4) getting knocked out of the game after 3 1/3 innings. The Tigers beat up Carrasco to the tune of ten hits and seven runs, six earned. Indians manager Terry Francona needed to use five relievers to finish up the blow out loss.They combined to allow two runs over 5 2/3 innings.
Torii Hunter led Detroit's 13 hit attack, falling a single short of the cycle while driving in three runs. Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder hit back-to-back home runs for the Tigers in the third inning. Lead off man Austin Jackson triggered the Tigers' offense by reach base three times, scoring twice and driving in a run. Nick Swisher and ex-Tiger Ryan Raburn homered for the Indians, Lonnie Chisenhall chipping in a pair of hits.
Sanchez was rocked badly in three of his last five starts before going on the disabled list. The two weeks off did him wonders. Today, Sanchez threw like the same pitcher who carried an ERA of 2.05 before the shoulder issues set in.
With Sanchez healthy, the Tigers rotation looks to be back on track. In their last four games, Detroit starting pitchers have allowed just three runs in 25 1/3 innings.
Top of one, the Tigers had a runner on third with less than two out, but could not capitalize. Drew Stubbs went for the all of nothing hero play on Hunter's fly ball down the right field line. Trying to make a diving catch, Stubbs came up empty, the ball rolling into the corner as Hunter cruised to a triple.
A gimpy Cabrera hit the ball hard, but on a line to Stiubbs. Hunter, who didn't read the ball well off the bat, was forced to hold. Fielder bounced out, the Tigers allowing Carrasco to dodge a bullet.
Just off the disabled list, the two weeks off did Sanchez wonders. His fastball hitting 95-96 MPH, Sanchez retired the Indians 1-2-3 in the first inning, striking out two.
After the Tigers stranded Jhonny Peralta in scoring position in the second, the Tigers had an ugly defensive half inning against the Tribe.
Sanchez plunked lead off man Swisher in the back foot. Michael Brantley hit a chopper to first with double play written all over it, but Fielder mishandled it, only getting the out at first, Swisher advancing to second. Sanchez struck out the dangerous Carlos Santana for the second out. Jason Giambi followed with a swinging bunt which Sanchez overran, then had trouble picking up. But being it was the ancient Giambi running, Sanchez still had plenty of time to get the out, ending a weird inning.
The Tigers put a runner in scoring position for the third consecutive inning, Cabrera and Fielder making sure they would not come up empty for a third consecutive inning. Jackson lined a double over the head of Brantley in left with one out. The Tigers then flashed their middle of the order power with two down.
Cabrera smoked a rising line drive which cleared the 19' high wall at the 370 mark in left center for a two ruin home run. Big fly number 27 and RBIs 87 and 88 for Cabrera put the Tigers up on the Tribe 2-0 (MLB.com video).
Cabrera's home run was a bullet. Fielder took a mighty uppercut swing on a Carrasco breaking ball, making it back-to-back jacks with a majestic fly ball which sailed over the right field wall. Fielder's 15th home run made it a 3-0 game. It was the first time in 2013 the Tigers' sluggers had left the yard back-to-back.
Victor Martinez came through with the Tigers' fourth extra base hit of the inning, doubling off the wall in right. He would ride home on Peralta's second hit of the game, an RBI single to center to put the Tigers up 4-0. The Tigers had scored four times off Carrasco with two out.
The Indains started the their half of the third with three straight singles to get on the scoreboard. Chisenhall and Drew Stubbs opened the inning with line drive base hits to put runners on the corners. Michael Bourn was fooled, but got enough of Sanchez's pitch for a swinging bunt. This time around Sanchez was unable to make the play, the dribbler getting by him for an RBI infield single.
In deep trouble with runners on the corners and no one out, Sanchez pulled off a Houdini act. Asdrubal Cabrera popped up to short right, Hunter racing in to make a basket catch. Jason Kipnis hit a chopper to first, Fielder getting the out as Bourn took second. A pair of runners in scoring position, Sanchez struck out Swisher on a nasty full count breaking ball to end the threat.
Despite scoring a run to pull to with three at 4-1, rhe inning had to be a disappointment for the Tribe. The table was set for a crooked number, but Sanchez wriggled off the hook.
Well, there goes what might have been biggest opportunity all game. Cabrera, Kipnis, Swisher bat with two on, no runs scored.— Let's Go Tribe (@LetsGoTribe) July 6, 2013
With help of sme shoddy defense, the Tigers countered the Indians' run with one of their own. Andy Dirks and Alex Avila opened the fourth with back-to-back singles. Ramon Santiago was asked to sacrifice. It wasn't the best bunt, a little to hard allowing Carrasco to make a play. He may have had a play at third, but Carrasco double clutched, then fired the ball into left field. Scored a sacrifice and an E-1, Dirks scored on the throwing error, Avila racing to third, Santiago taking second.
Jackson lofted a sacrifice fly to right, both runners tagged up, Avila scoring and Santiago beating the relay to third. Hunter made it a three run inning, bouncing a double down the left field line to plate Santiago.
First base open on still only one out, Carrasco was ordered to intentionally walk Cabrera as boos rained down from the statnds from the conserable number of tigers fans in attendance. Terry Fancona was then forced to pull his starter early for the second time in the series, calling on lefty Rich Hill with the Tigers up 7-1.
Game essentially over.
Hill would get out of the inning with help from Country Joe West's strike zone, but the Tigers had taken control of the game with a six run lead. Carrasco was battered about
Sanchez made the Indians look silly in the bottom of the fourth with a true shutdown inning. He needed only five pitches to generate three pop ups. If you went to the fridge to get a beer (Hell, if you blinked), you missed the bottom of the fourth.
Sanchez was nearing his pitch limit in the fifth, Luke Putkonen and Phil Coke were warming up. With help from a convoluted unassisted double play turned by Fielder, Sanchez got his five innings in to become the pitcher of record.
Facing the third Indians hurler of the day, left-hander Matt Albers, Hunter made it a 9-1 Tigers' blowout in the sixth. Jackson on base after a single, Hunter smoked a two run bomb well over the high wall in left (MLB.com video). The no-doubt shot was Hunter's fifth home run of the season, leaving him a single short of the cycle.
Coke took over for Sanchez in the sixth, and served up a solo home run to the favorite player of bros everywhere, Swisher. Home run number nine of season for the mayor of "Brohio" cut the Tigers' lead to seven runs at 9-2.
The Tribe still hitting Coke hard in the seventh (a double play helping him out), Jim Leyland pulled him after Chisenhall's two out double. Putkonen came on and walked Stubbs on four pitches, which was enough to get Drum guy going again. Thanks, bullpen.
Putkonen's wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position. He then loaded the bases by walking his second straight batter, Raburn. Putkonen made it far more interesting than he needed, going to a full count before retiring Aviles on a ground ball to Fielder. Inning over, the Tigers still holding a 9-2 lead going into the eighth.
The only drama left was if Hunter could complete the cycle. As Hunter was being named an All-Star Game reserve, he grounded out 1-3 in the top of the eighth. No cycle, but an All-Star berth is a nice consolation prize.
I'm guessing due to being tired of seeing hard hit balls and walks (or to just get in work), Leyland had Drew Smyly pitch the eighth. Smyly allowed a single in a drama free inning.
Darin Downs got the garbage time assignment, pitching the bottom of the ninth with a seven run lead. Stubbs extended the game with a two out double, then Raburn added a meaningless two run home run to make it a 9-4 final.
A boring GAME OVER. I love boring. I love winning. I love baseball!
Your final score is Tigers 9, Indians 2, Ryan Raburn 2. Of course Raburn homered, because baseball is a funny game. The only damage done was to Downs' ERA and the Tigers' run differential.
At 48-38, the Tigers reach their high water mark on the season at ten games over .500. Their lead in the Central now stands at 3 1/2 games as the Indians drop their fourth straight game to fall to 45-42. The Tribe are now closer to the third place Royals (who are six out) than the Tigers. .
In game three of four, the Tigers try to clinch a series victory with Doug Fister (6-5, 3.80 ERA) on the mound. In his last start, Fister was rocked for six runs in the first two innings before gutting out a six inning no-decision as the Tigers beat the Blue Jays. Looking to salvage something out the series, the Indians go with right-hander Corey Kluber (6-5, 4.33 ERA), who has been pounded (15 runs allowed) in his last two appearances. First pitch at Progressive field is 1:05 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
Meanwhile, at the Tigers' hotel in Cleveland:
Ran into Anibal Sanchez on hotel elevator today. Wife drooled over his good looks, gentlemanly ways. Stunned he is only 5-10, at best.— Lynn G. Henning (@Lynn_Henning) July 6, 2013
Drooling Mrs. Henning + Aníbal 4EVR!— Eric Wayne (@PhilCokesBrain) July 6, 2013
Nick Swisher was hit right on the "bro" (or the back foot) by Anibal Sanchez in the second inning.
SHOW SWISHER GETTING HIT IN PHANTOM CAM!— Scott Rogowski (@DNR_Rogo) July 6, 2013
Ow, bro!— MattinToledo (@MattinToledo) July 6, 2013
The Progessive Field crowd was extremely pro-Tigers, Detroit fans outnumbering Cleveland fans on their home turf.
Last night's Progressive crowd: 40,000 on $1 hot-dog night. Today, no cheap dogs. Half the audience. And, it seems, mostly Detroit rooters.— Lynn G. Henning (@Lynn_Henning) July 6, 2013
Country Joe West made his presence known in the fourth, Prince Fielder punched out on a pitch Mr. FOX TRAX believed to be a ball.
Joe West. Still horrible at his job.— Scott Rogowski (@DNR_Rogo) July 6, 2013
The Joe West Strike Zone expands at 7-1— Grey (@spacemnkymafia) July 6, 2013
Jhonny Peralta showing the effects of Biogenseis?
Jhonny Peralta's neck looks a lot bigger for some reason pic.twitter.com/6wgDYd8rvV— BYB Rob (@Detroit4lyfeRob) July 6, 2013
Tribe fans are suffering from an infectious disease. There's no cure for Kipnis.
@DNR_Rogo You should text them again to make sure they're ok. I'd be concerned if I were you.— BYB Rob (@Detroit4lyfeRob) July 6, 2013
The weirdest play of the game took place in the bottom of the fifth, the Tigers turning a double play thanks to Fielder's inability to field his position. Lonnie Chisenhall on first via a walk, Drew Stubbs hit a looper to Fielder. Looking to double off Chisenhall before he had the pop up in his grasp, Fielder muffed it. There was no infield fly rule in effect with just a runner on first, so Fielder tagged Chisenhall, then stepped on the bag to complete the double play. It was easy being Chisenhall was confused and Stubbs was already walking back to the dugout. Instead of a fielder's choice or worse, an error, Fielder had turned his misplay into the slowest unassisted double play you'll ever witness. It wasn't an intentional drop by Fielder, so once the umpires had a meeting of the minds, the twin killing stood.
Thanks to shoddy starting pitching, some of the hardest working guys in baseball are Indians relievers.
Indians starters have failed to record at least 1 out in 6th inning 33x this season, tying Astros for most such games in American League.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) July 6, 2013
Continuing to fill in admirably for Omar Infante, Ramon Santiago made a nice defensive play in the seventh. He started a 4-6-3 double play off a rocket of a one-hopper of the bat of Jason Giambi. Phil Coke really needed the help.
While the game was winding through the late innings, MLB was announcing the All-Star Game rosters.
AL All-Star starters: 1B: Davis 2B: Cano SS: Hardy 3B: Cabrera C: Mauer OF: Jones OF: Trout OF: Bautista DH: Ortiz— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) July 6, 2013
Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer named to AL All-Star Game pitching staff. Prince Fielder, Torii Hunter, Jhonny Peralta make team as reserves— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) July 6, 2013
Joaquin Benoit is one of the nominees for the AL Final Vote.
Six All-Stars is the most the Tigers have sent to the game in almost three decades. In 1985 Lou Whitaker and Jack Morris were in the starting lineup, Willie Hernandez, Dan Petry, Alan Trammell and Lance Parrish (who missed the game due to injury) were also named to the team. The Tigers have have multiple players named to the game in seven of the last eight season. Long gone are the days of Robert Fick, Detroit Tigers All-Star representative.
The Tigers are back on a roll, having won five in a row to take control of the Central again.
Tigers lose a bunch, fans flip out, call for everyone's heads, Tigers win a bunch. Wash, rinse, repeat. #baseball— Chris Vannini (@ChrisVannini) July 6, 2013
Tigers fans love their drama.
The Tigers guaranteed themselves a winning road trip with their sixth win since leaving Detroit. They are 6-3 with two games remaining on their monster 11 game trip
Anibal Sanchez: Five innings, one run, 73 pitches. I think the shoulder is fine.
Torii Hunter: Just needed a single to complete the cycle, coming up short in the eighth. But it's fitting the 37 year old Hunter has a huge game (three extra base hits, three RBIs) the same day he makes his fifth All-Star game.
Austin Jackson: Coming into today's game, Jackson was hitting .432/.488/.919 since coming off the DL. He improved those numbers and triggered the offense by reaching base three times, scoring twice.
Prince Fielder: Have to get a ROAR for a home run and one of the weirder double plays of the season. To Fielder's credit, he knew what to do on the double play, tag the runner first before touching the bag.
Miguel Cabrera: Even a gimpy Cabrera is dangerous, as shown by his no-doubt home run.
Luke Putkonen: Throw strikes!
Phil Coke: Pitch better!
Darin Downs: Don't give up home runs to Ryan freaking Raburn!
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Rick Porcello shut out the Indians on five hits over seven innings, taking PotG in overwhelming fashion with 77% of the vote.