Well, that was a pleasant surprise. With the second game of the Tigers-Twins series postponed by rain a night earlier, forcing a day-night double header Thursday, Anibal Sanchez was pressed into service as the daytime starter for Detroit. He did well enough, and got just enough help from his offense and bullpen to help lift the Tigers to a 9-2 victory over Minnesota.
The win put them just a half-game behind the second Wild Card spot. Justin Verlander will take the mound at 8 p.m. for the second game of the series and a chance for the Tigers to move back into a playoff spot only a few days after things were beginning to look bad.
The Tigers and Twins traded runs in the first in front of a nearly empty Target Field crowd. Detroit opened the game with two hits before Cameron Maybin scored when Miguel Cabrera hit into a double play. In the bottom half, Sanchez gave up a solo home run to leadoff batter Brian Dozier. Go figure. It’s his 42nd home run of the year against Detroit. (Note to editor: Please fact check that).
Sanchez settled in after though, allowing just one more hit and a walk while staying on the mound for five innings of work. He struck out four.
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus went to his bullpen after that — wisely — with Alex Wilson working an effective 1-2/3 and Shane Greene, well, working, for 1-1/3. He gave up a run and looked a bit less than confidence inducing.
Detroit’s offense was spurred by Andrew Romine and Jose Iglesias, who both recorded two hits, and Justin Upton, who clobbered a home run to center field and scored his second run of the night on a wild pitch. Victor Martinez hit a three-run home run to deep right field, pinch hitting in the ninth.
Anibal Sanchez — Allowed only a solo home run in five innings of work while striking out four.
Justin Upton — DINGER! He walked twice and scored two runs.
Victor Martinez -- 3-run shot in the ninth inning as a pinch hitter.
All 20 fans in attendance — You made your voices heard!
Still not gonna hiss
Stats and stuff
Announced paid attendance today: 18,374.— Evan Woodbery (@evanwoodbery) September 22, 2016
My best guess for fans in the seats: 750.
Victor Martinez is the first Tiger to hit 3 pinch hit home runs in a season since Larry Herndon in 1986.— Tigers PR (@DetroitTigersPR) September 22, 2016
Win Probability Chart