DETROIT — The Detroit Tigers have had their fair share of bad luck playing at home this year, but an interleague series against the Colorado Rockies was not one of those times. The Tigers won 4-0 thanks to a dominant performance by Anibal Sanchez and a three-run home run by Victor Martinez.
Sanchez gave Tigers fans something to remember as he went seven strong innings without walking a batter while striking out a new season-high 12 batters. He gave up just two hits that never made it past first base, had four 1-2-3 innings, and commanded the strike zone with his fastball.
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said outside of Sanchez's outing in Oakland on May 23 where he went eight and a third innings and allowed just one run on three hits, Sunday's outing was the strongest of the season.
"He used his fastball perfectly today," Ausmus said. "He threw it for strikes, he threw it in, he threw it out and all of his other pitches as a result were much better."
The Tigers offense did little to offer much run support, in stark contrast to Saturday's game. The only offensive production came by way of an RBI single by Miguel Cabrera in the third inning, and Victor Martinez followed it up with a three-run bomb that disappeared into the left field seats.
The Tigers put two aboard in the fifth inning, thanks to a two-out single by Ian Kinsler and a 45 foot squibbling infield base hit by Cabrera, but nothing came of it. Rajai Davis got on board in the seventh inning, stole second and advanced to third base on a wild pitch but a strikeout-putout of Kinsler ended that mini-rally as well.
While the Tigers would again threaten in the eighth inning with two singles by Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez, they would not score and the final score would remain 4-0. Joba Chamberlain came out to pitch the eighth inning and the bearded wonder struck again. He struck out two swinging after allowing a leadoff single to Wilin Rosario and ended the inning with a groundout.
Joakim Soria pitched the ninth inning with a four-run lead and despite a leadoff single of his own, induced three consecutive flyouts with only 11 pitches that shut the door on any chance for the Rockies to get on the board.
The Tigers go on the road for nine games and first up is the New York Yankees. After a four-game series in New York they will head to Toronto to face the Blue Jays for three games. Then they will head to Pittsburgh for two games of an interleague series against the Pirates. The Tigers will return home to semi-continue that series as the Pirates then come to Detroit for two games.
For all their struggles at home, the Tigers needed some solid wins as they were an even .500 coming into the series against the Rockies. Sunday's win allows the Tigers to go on the road with a home record of 30-27 and holding a road record of 31-20.
Anibal Sanchez: Pitched seven shutout innings where he allowed just two hits, walked no one and struck out 12 (!) batters. Sanchez wracked up 23 swinging strikes and no foul tips were found among them.
Rajai Davis: Apparently he likes leading off and playing center field. No walls has a calming effect, it seems. Davis turned what should have been a single for everyone else into a double after he briefly applied the "brakes" halfway to second base. It was a risky move on a ball that dropped only partially into the outfield, but Davis didn't seem to care and he finished 2-4 for the game.
Miguel Cabrera: After he drew a two-out walk in the first inning, Cabrera put the Tigers on the board with an RBI single that scored the speedy Rajai Davis from second base. He finished 2-3 with a walk.
Victor Martinez: Showoff. Batting right-handed, Martinez launched a three-run shot into the left field seats. That ball was hit so well that the left fielder Jason Pridie gave up on it and just watched it fly out of his reach. Not that he ever had a chance on it anyway. He finished 2-4 on the day. (MLB.com video)
Joba Chamberlain/Joakim Soria: There were no bullpen shenanigans. Not today anyway. A leadoff single by both pitchers in the eighth and ninth innings did no harm and a well-earned shutout was kept in effect.
Bottom of the order: From the fifth batter down, the Tigers were 1-18 with six strikeouts. It's a good thing the top of the order got something going because it sure as heck wasn't the bottom half.
STREAKS AND STATS:
- Victor Martinez has back-to-back games for the fourth time this season and the first time since June 20-21, 2014. Martinez's home run was the 23rd of the season for him, and he's had more only once in his career, when he hit 25 in 2007. He didn't hit his 23rd until September 16, 2007.
- Anibal Sanchez's strikeout of Josh Rutledge in the sixth inning was the 10th double-digit strikeout game of his career, and the first since September 17, 2013 against the Seattle Mariners. It was also Sanchez's fourth career game with 12-or-more strikeouts. The last occurred on May 24, 2013 against the Minnesota Twins, where he also struck out 12 batters.
- According to ESPN Stats and information, Sanchez is just the fourth Tiger in the last 40 seasons to get 12 strikeouts without walking a batter. The other three were Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, and Jack Morris.
- Rajai Davis had at least two hits in each game of the three-game series against the Rockies, and hit .538 with two doubles in 13 at-bats during that time. He also recorded his 26th stolen base of the season in the seventh inning and advanced to third on a wild pitch by relief pitcher Tommy Kahnle.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
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