DETROIT — Through four innings, things were shaping up to be an all-out pitcher's duel between Tigers starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez (5-3) and Rays starter Chris Archer (5-5). A rocky fifth inning became a worse sixth for Sanchez, however, and the Tigers lost 7-2 as Sanchez matched a career high in runs allowed.
Through four innings Sanchez allowed just two walks and no hits, but Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said an 11-pitch walk to Ryan Hanigan in the third inning began a slow downward spiral on Sanchez's evening. A one-out solo home run in the fifth inning put the Rays on the board first and Sanchez was unable to recover.
"Early in the game I thought it was going to be a good game for him, he looked sharp, his pitch count was down," Ausmus said. "It seemed to turn on the Hanigan at-bat, Hanigan fouled off a bunch of pitches and then it didn't seem as if he was quite as sharp as he had been earlier in the game."
Sanchez gave up four more runs after the fifth inning home run and he left in the sixth with two on and two outs for Phil Coke, who gave up a two-RBI triple to Kevin Kiermaier, the first batter he faced. Both runs were handed to Sanchez and he finished having allowed seven runs on six hits while walking four and striking out only one.
A wild pitch and a sacrifice fly would close out Sanchez's final line for the evening and the 2.63 ERA, which Sanchez held going into Saturday's game became a 3.18 as he was handed the loss.
Pat McCoy came out to close the ninth inning but was taken out of the game due to a right hamstring strain while trying to cover first base on a base hit by Ben Zobrist. McCoy threw one warm-up pitch but was immediately removed from the game and was limping badly in the clubhouse after the game.
Ausmus said he hadn't spoken to Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski yet on how they're going to handle the injury. "(McCoy) said he felt it on the second step towards first base but as you saw he tried to throw a pitch and felt it when he threw the warm-up pitch," Ausmus said. "We'll have to figure out what we're going to do in terms of what his status will be."
Alex Avila: Broke up Chris Archer's shutout with a solo home run in the seventh inning with two outs. He also drew a walk in the fifth inning.
J.D. Martinez: The leadoff batter in the ninth inning stepped to the plate and smoked the first pitch he saw off the left field foul pole for a home run.
Torii Hunter: Finished 2-4 with two singles, one in the fifth and the second in the ninth inning following Martinez's home run. He was the only Tiger with more than a single hit over the course of the game.
Joba Chamberlain: Gave the Tigers a quick and easy scoreless inning, allowing only a one-out walk.
Be his name Yukon Cornelius or Joba Chamberlain, the mysterious bearded man tossed another scoreless inning.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) July 5, 2014
Anibal Sanchez: Cruised through four innings but allowed seven earned runs in the next two innings and had just one strikeout in the fourth.
Phil Coke: Gave up a two-RBI triple to Kevin Kiermaier, the first batter he faced, in the sixth inning. The runs were the credited to Sanchez and after that Coke gave up only two hits and struck out one in 1 1/3 innings, but Coke risked injury when he tried to snare a leadoff line shot with his bare hand. Ausmus and head athletic trainer Kevin Rand came out to check on Coke before leaving him in the game.
Andrew Romine: Worked the count full in the ninth inning then struck out with two on and one out. The ninth-inning strikeout was his second of the game and Romine finished the night 0-3 with a walk.
Tigers offense: Missing-in-action throughout most of eight innings of the game with the exception of two singles, a double and a home run. None of the hits occurred in the same inning. The Tigers got one back on a solo home run by Martinez, a single by Hunter and a walk by Alex Avila in the ninth, but both runners were left stranded when Romine and Rajai Davis both struck out swinging to end the game.
STREAKS AND STATS:
- Anibal Sanchez tied a career-high on Saturday as he gave up seven earned runs to the Rays. The last time Sanchez gave up seven runs in one start was on August 8, 2012 against the New York Yankees, in his third start after being traded to the Tigers.
- J.D. Martinez matched a career-high for home runs when he hit his 11th home run of the season on the first pitch of the ninth inning that knocked off the fair side of the foul pole and bounced into the Tigers bullpen.
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