Although most of Detroit's heralded rotation has been scuffling, Anibal Sanchez is enjoying his best stretch since coming off the disabled list for the Tigers.
Now he'll try to contain one of baseball's top offensive clubs for the second time in as many starts.The powerful Toronto Blue Jays look to extend an outstanding stretch with their 17th victory in 21 games Tuesday night in the opener of a three-game set between first-place clubs at Comerica Park.Detroit starters have posted a 6.78 ERA while the team has dropped 10 of 14, but Sanchez (2-2, 2.49 ERA) has gone 2-0 with a 1.77 ERA in three starts since missing three weeks due to a blister on his right middle finger.Sanchez pitched well Wednesday against an Oakland team which leads the majors with 296 runs, allowing only one run and three hits with a season-high nine strikeouts over 8 1/3 innings. The bullpen, however, couldn't hold his one-run lead in the ninth as the Athletics rallied for a 3-1 victory.The right-hander will try to put up another strong performance versus Toronto (34-24), which is second in the majors with 291 runs and leads baseball with 82 homers. The Blue Jays have also averaged 5.8 runs and hit .310 with 23 homers while winning 11 of 13.Sanchez just might be equipped to handle the AL East leaders since he's yet to allow a homer in his eight starts."We'll have to keep the ball down, mix up speeds and hopefully keep them off-balance enough so we can score more runs than them," former Blue Jays outfielder Rajai Davis told the team's official website.Sanchez has given up three earned runs with 14 strikeouts over 13 2/3 innings to win his last two starts against the Blue Jays. Melky Cabrera has gone 10 for 18 when facing Sanchez and is 14 for 29 in his last seven games versus Detroit (31-22).Edwin Encarnacion, 3 for 10 with a homer off Sanchez, hit his 19th home run in Sunday's 4-0 victory over visiting Kansas City. Encarnacion finished one shy of the major league record for home runs in a month with 16 in May.Toronto starter Drew Hutchison (4-3, 3.88) should be well-rested after having his start pushed back two days after the club recalled Marcus Stroman for his first big-league start Sunday.Though he didn't have his best stuff, the right-hander picked up his third straight win last Monday after surrendering five runs over five innings in a 10-5 home win over Tampa Bay."It was just one of those games you have to grind through," Hutchison said. "But I've been keeping my normal routine, with a few tweaks, and I'll be ready to take the ball on Tuesday."Hutchison has never faced the AL Central leaders, though he's pitched well with a 3-1 record and 2.33 ERA in seven road starts.Detroit totaled 20 runs and batted .213 during a 3-4 road swing that concluded with Sunday's 4-0 loss at Seattle. Ian Kinsler (4 for 32), Austin Jackson (3 for 29) and Alex Avila (2 for 28) are among the slumping Tigers.Miguel Cabrera, however, is batting .404 with four homers and 14 RBIs in his last 16 contests. The star slugger went 7 for 14 with a home run to help Detroit take two of three against visiting Toronto from April 9-11, 2013.The Tigers have won the season series in each of the last three years, including 5-2 in 2013.
Joe Nathan has allowed multiple runs in 3 straight outings, tying his longest career streak as a reliever (3 straight outings in April 2011). He currently has a 6.86 ERA this season.
Nathan already has more outings allowing multiple runs (5) than all of last season (4), and more blown saves (5) than last season (3)
The Blue Jays beat the Tigers 5-3 in 9 innings...in a game that was scoreless after 8 innings.
The 8 combined runs are tied for the most ever in the 9th inning of a game that was scoreless through 8 innings (Pirates/Braves July 23, 1993)
Anibal Sanchez has been remarkable in his last 2 starts.
Joe Nathan was not so remarkable in those 2 starts, and probably cost Sanchez a couple of wins in the process.