Detroit manager Jim Leyland believes Anibal Sanchez is much better than he's looked during his short time with the Tigers.
Sanchez tries to avoid a third consecutive losing start Wednesday night and help the Tigers hand the struggling Toronto Blue Jays a fifth straight road defeat.
Since a 10-2 victory over Cleveland on Aug. 3 in his second outing after Detroit acquired him from Miami, Sanchez (1-3, 7.97 ERA) has allowed 12 runs and 19 hits in 8 1-3 innings over his last two starts. He'll be taking the mound Wednesday for the first time since Aug. 13, when he gave up five runs and 12 hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 9-3 loss at Minnesota.
"He's not keeping the ball down well enough," Leyland said. "I certainly know that he's a better pitcher than he's shown so far."
Sanchez has been even worse in two starts against the Blue Jays this season, losing both while allowing 11 runs, 15 hits and seven walks over 9 1-3 innings. In his Detroit debut July 28, he gave up five runs and eight hits - three homers - in six innings of a 5-1 loss at Toronto.
As Sanchez tries to turn things around, the Tigers (65-57) hope to build on Tuesday's 5-3 series-opening win. Max Scherzer allowed one run in seven innings and Austin Jackson had three hits for Detroit, which walked nine times as it bounced back after dropping two straight at home to Baltimore over the weekend.
The Tigers remained two games behind AL Central-leading Chicago, and still very much in the mix for a wild-card spot."This one's in the book, you turn the page," Leyland said. "That's what we've got to do now. Got to just play it out and see what happens."
Jackson is 7 for 14 in his last three games after going 2 for 12 over his previous five. He's 13 for 26 in seven career contests versus Toronto at Comerica Park.
Edwin Encarnacion hit his 32nd homer Tuesday for Toronto (56-66), which has lost three in a row and six of seven overall. The Blue Jays have also totaled of seven runs during a four-game road skid, and have scored three runs or fewer in five straight overall contests.
Encarnacion went 2 for 5 in the opener after going 0 for 6 over the previous two games. He's 2 for 4 with a homer off Sanchez.
Scheduled Toronto starter Aaron Laffey (3-4, 4.70) served up three home runs and one other hit in six innings Thursday to lose his second straight start, 7-2 to the White Sox. The left-hander has allowed eight homers over his last five starts while going 1-3 with a 7.39 ERA.
"I just worry about myself and in the end, go back and take the positives from (the last) game," Laffey told the Blue Jays' official website. "Obviously, the three mistakes (Thursday) that I made, there's nothing you can really do about those, you can't take them back. So, just move on."
Laffey is 0-2 with a 3.91 ERA in four career starts versus Detroit, but has not started a game against the Tigers since 2009, when he was with Cleveland.
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|August 19, 2012||David Cooper||Day-to-Day||Lower back tightness|
|August 12, 2012||Kelly Johnson||Day-to-Day||Groin injury|
|August 11, 2012||Colby Rasmus||Day-to-Day||Groin injury|
|August 04, 2012||Brett Lawrie||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|August 03, 2012||Brett Lawrie||Day-to-Day||Left game - rib cage tightness|
|July 26, 2012||Joel Carreno||15-Day DL|
|August 01, 2012||Ryan Raburn||15-Day DL||Sprained right thumb|
|July 07, 2012||Drew Smyly||15-Day DL||Right intercostal strain|
|July 07, 2012||Drew Smyly||15-Day DL||Right intercostal strain|
|July 02, 2012||Max Scherzer||Day-to-Day||Left hamstring soreness|
|June 25, 2012||Alex Avila||Day-to-Day||Left knee tendinitis|
|June 19, 2012||Jose Valverde||Day-to-Day||Right wrist|
DETROIT (AP) -- Anibal Sanchez was sharp from the start - but to win this one the Detroit Tigers would need contributions from a couple more of their newest acquisitions.
Sanchez pitched effectively into the seventh inning, Omar Infante tripled and scored, and Jeff Baker drove in a run with a single to lead the Tigers to a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night.
Sanchez (2-3), acquired with Infante from Miami in a five-player deal last month, allowed one earned run and five hits in 6 2-3 innings. He struck out six and walked two, leaving with the tying run on third base.
"I just feel great when I can control my pitches," Sanchez said. "Today I feel more relaxed, I feel more comfortable on the mound and that's what the result was today."
It may have been his best outing with the Tigers. The right-hander allowed 12 runs in his previous two starts but stayed mostly out of trouble against Toronto.
"His stuff was really electric, probably as crisp as it's been since we got him," Detroit catcher Alex Avila said. "He looked great, using all his pitches. He had real good life on his fastball."
Detroit's bullpen closed it out, with Jose Valverde pitching the ninth for his 25th save in 29 chances, and 100th save as a Tiger.
Detroit trails the first-place Chicago White Sox by two games in the AL Central.
Aaron Laffey (3-5) allowed two earned runs and five hits in six-plus innings. He walked three and struck out two.
The Blue Jays have been held to three or fewer runs for six straight games.
Infante's triple in the fourth was Detroit's first hit of the game, and he came home on a wild pitch to make it 1-0.
Baker, acquired from the Chicago Cubs earlier this month, added an RBI single in the fifth, but the Blue Jays came back with an unearned run in the sixth. Rajai Davis walked, stole second and went to third on Sanchez's error on a pickoff throw. He eventually scored on Edwin Encarnacion 's single.
But the Tigers didn't have a monopoly on poor defense. Toronto shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria 's error allowed Austin Jackson to reach in the bottom of the inning. He was sacrificed to second and came in to score on Prince Fielder 's single.
Davis' throw home from left field nearly had Jackson, but the ball scooted away from catcher Jeff Mathis as Jackson slid home.
"I thought Aaron threw the ball really well," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "We had an error in one inning and missed a bang-bang play at the plate, and that puts you on the short end of a 3-2 scoreline."
Hechavarria's sacrifice fly in the seventh made it 3-2, and Sanchez left the game after that. Brayan Villarreal got Davis to ground out to end that threat.
In the eighth, Detroit's Joaquin Benoit allowed a walk and a single, and an error put runners on second and third with two out. Yorvit Torrealba hit a flyball to center for the third out.
Omar Vizquel had a pinch-hit single for the Blue Jays in the ninth, but the 45-year-old was thrown out trying to steal second to end the game.
"We're struggling to score runs, so we're trying to manufacture something with two outs," Farrell said. "Valverde has a slow release, so we were going to go after him even with medium-speed runners. We're trying to force Avila into making a perfect throw, and he did. You just tip your cap on that one."
NOTES: Toronto 1B David Cooper left in the sixth with a jammed neck. He is day to day. Mathis came in to catch and Torrealba went to first, playing there for the first time in his career. ... Jacob Turner , the key player the Tigers sent to Miami for Sanchez and Infante, allowed three runs in six innings Wednesday in his debut for the Marlins. ... Laffey pitched three hitless innings to start the game. He's holding hitters to a .176 average the first time through the order. ... Toronto's Colby Rasmus went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts. He's in an 0-for-26 slump. ... Olympic gymnast Jordyn Wieber threw out a ceremonial first pitch. ... Detroit's Justin Verlander (12-7) starts Thursday against Toronto's J.A. Happ (2-1). Verlander threw a no-hitter against the Blue Jays last year.