Giving Anibal Sanchez another start is crazy enough, but perhaps it could've worked were the Tigers braintrust capable of thinking outside the box. Instead, manager Brad Ausmus left the faded ace in a batter too long -- sound familiar? -- and the Tigers' offense started their vacation early. The Toronto Blue Jays accepted this gift, and cruised to a 6-1 victory.
Sanchez struck out six hitters, and showed why there is still potential for him as a reliever. Unfortunately, the Tigers were dead set on getting as many innings as possible from him despite the imminent four-day break. Sanchez's fastball had good life early, but once again he simply could not find a breaking ball to work for him. Meanwhile, the Tigers' inexplicable struggle to put teams away with two outs continued.
Sanchez gave up a two-out single to catcher Josh Thole, he of the .145 batting average, to drive in a pair of runs in the second inning. Sanchez got through the third with no trouble, and the Tigers could've taken that and moved on. Instead he as allowed to continue despite the upcoming break to rest the bullpen.
In the fourth, the inevitable happened. With two outs, and two on base, Ausmus left Sanchez in to face the reigning AL MVP, Josh Donaldson, and the Blue Jays' third baseman appreciated it, clubbing a three-run shot to make it 5-1. Sanchez finished the inning, and instead of one of their better relievers, Ausmus then turned things over to Dustin Molleken to start the fifth.
Meanwhile, the Tigers could only muster six hits all day. Triples from Ian Kinsler and Mike Aviles were the only loud noises off the Tigers' bats. James McCann sacrificed Aviles home in the fifth for the only offense of the day. The Tigers racked up an unlucky 13 LOBsters on the afternoon.
While the Tigers' lineup flailed at the plate, Dustin Molleken actually did a decent job keeping the Blue Jays in check. He struck out three in 2 2/3 innings, allowing three hits, a walk and no runs. Molleken worked through some trouble at times, and got away with a few bad pitches, but coming after Sanchez, he did a fine job giving the Tigers a chance to come back. Unfortunately, it was a chance they refused to take.
With two outs in the seventh, Molleken finally got in too deep. Singles off the bats of Kevin Pillar and Devon Travis had the Blue Jays threatening, but Kyle Ryan came on to get Justin Smoak on a weak fly ball to center. Ryan would surrender an RBI single to Justin Smoak in the eighth to complete the scoring, with Mark Lowe cleaning up the inning. The Tigers mustered a scoring threat in the top of the ninth, but Blue Jays reliever Bo Schultz got McCann and Iglesias to ground out to end it.
With the loss, the Tigers take a 46-43 record into the All-Star break.
Dustin Molleken: The Tigers' righthander was the only modest bright spot, going 2 2/3 scoreless innings.
Cameron Maybin: A pair of singles and another stolen base, off R.A. Dickey no less, for the Tigers' centerfielder.
Al Avila and Brad Ausmus: They will tell you they had no other options, but running Anibal Sanchez out for more than an inning or two is only a little removed from simply conceding a game. A bullpen day, committing to use Sanchez no more than one time through the order, anything would be better than sending Sanchez out to face a batting order a second time.
Miguel Cabrera: A single for Cabrera today, but once again he looked as lost as he ever gets at the plate. The break couldn't come soon enough for him.
STREAKS AND STATS:
Counting the 5 runs today, the #Tigers have allowed 184 two-out runs this season, 2nd-most in baseball.— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) July 10, 2016
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