DETROIT -- Anibal Sanchez gave up two runs and eight hits, but he battled through a rough day on the mound. The offense backed him up with three home runs, capped by Jose Iglesias' three-run blast. In the first game of the second half of the season, the Detroit Tigers won 7-3 over the Baltimore Orioles to start the three-game series, much needed after a rough first half.
Sanchez was not right. Lucky for him, his offense and defense were. The only clean inning Sanchez had was the first, when he got through it on 11 pitches and a strikeout. He gave up just one run in the second and fourth innings, respectively, but before the Tigers added some insurance, it was a close game with a struggling Sanchez on the mound. The command of his pitches was absent, and he had just three strikeouts through five innings pitched.
Somewhere along the line, though, Brad Ausmus figured out that Sanchez past 100 pitches is rarely a good thing. Thus, Sanchez didn't come out for the seventh. He finished at 99 pitches in six innings pitched, allowing just the two runs on eight hits in that time. The bullpen, betrayed by Ian Kinsler and his heavy glove in the seventh, gave up an earned run that was charged to Al Alburquerque. But it should have been an inning-ending double play.
Speaking of that defense: there was this gem by J.D. Martinez to end the top of the third, a leaping catch to rob Chris Davis of a two-run homer. And the only good play of the night by Kinsler, a snagged liner that he fired to first, erasing Adam Jones. Nick Castellanos made a couple snags in foul territory, too, though he also allowed two liners past him that he probably should have been able to get. Jose Iglesias provided his usual, sparkling defense.
Oh, and that offense? The offense hit three home runs. Victor Martinez blasted a two-run homer to right in the first, Jose Iglesias (!) launched a three-run dinger in the fourth, and J.D. smacked a solo shot in the fifth. Not to be ignored, Iglesias was hit by a pitch in his first plate appearance, which he followed with a stolen base, and then scored on Anthony Gose's ground-rule RBI double in the second.
Victor Martinez: Launched a two-run bomb to right field in the first inning, putting the Tigers up 2-0.
J.D. Martinez: Struck out in his first two at-bats, but his glove earned him the initial roar. With a runner on first and two out, the Orioles' Chris Davis smacked a ball to right that was all but gone until J.D. brought it back with a leaping catch in the right field corner. The snag saved a two-run homer, and maintained the Tigers' 3-1 lead at the time. J.D. later drilled a solo home run to left in the fifth, giving the Tigers a 7-2 lead.
Jose freakin' Iglesias: The Tigers needed run support. They got it, thanks to Iglesias, who drilled a 1-1 fastball to left for a three-run blast in the fourth. Yes, you read that right. No, it's not a misprint. He also brought his top notch defense to the park, including a beautiful play in the eighth for the first out. Running toward the mound, Iglesias scooped a slow dribbler and fired it to first off-balance and accurately across his body.
Ian Kinsler's glove: Yes, he made an outstanding defensive play in the fifth on a liner he fired to first for a 4-3 double play. But the two misplays elsewhere not only cost the Tigers the completion of two innings, but runs. The first time it appeared that Kinsler couldn't get the ball out of his glove in time, which resulted in a 4-6 force, scoring a run. In the seventh, Kinsler dropped a ball and fired inaccurately to Iglesias, which trickled into short left field, also scoring a run. At the plate he was also 1-for-3 with a walk.
Joakim Soria: He may not have given up a run, but he allowed a leadoff walk and a single in a non-save situation. His pitch count was high and he fell behind in the count on batters. Soria has been less than lights-out lately, and if it continues, it's going to be a problem. Soria struck out two, but the call of the second strikeout was quite generous, because the pitch wasn't actually in the strike zone. He finished with 29 pitches in his one inning of work to end the game.
STREAKS AND STATS:
- Anthony Gose extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a ground-rule RBI double in the second inning, a ball that, had it not bounced over the wall, would've likely been a triple, for Gose.
- The Tigers homered three times in a game for the ninth time this season on Friday night. Five of those three-homer games have come since June 21 (h/t @matthewbmowery)
- The stolen base by Jose Iglesias was his 10th of the season.
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