Another gem Sunday could help Detroit inch closer to locking up a playoff spot.
With Miguel Cabrera looking to continue his quest for the AL triple crown, Sanchez tries to post back-to-back wins for the first time since getting traded as the visiting Tigers conclude a three-game set against the Minnesota Twins .
After dropping Friday's series opener 4-2, first-place Detroit (85-73) bounced back Saturday with a 6-4 win and - coupled with Chicago's 10-4 loss to Tampa Bay - moved two games ahead of the White Sox in the Central.
"That was a huge game for us," manager Jim Leyland said. "You look at the scoreboard and see the White Sox most likely are going to lose. That's a game you've got to win."
Cabrera's three-run homer - his 43rd of the season - moved him into a tie with Texas' Josh Hamilton for the league lead. The third baseman, who also leads the AL with 136 RBIs and a .327 average, has a chance to become the first player to lead the league in all three categories since Boston's Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.
"I want to talk about the team," said Cabrera, batting .444 with four homers and 15 RBIs during an 11-game hitting streak in Minnesota. "There's too many distractions right now and been talking too much about triple crowns. I pull too much attention. I don't want to do that. I want to go out there and play my game."
Winners in five of six, the Tigers will try to keep rolling behind Sanchez, who's 4-6 with a 3.95 ERA over 11 starts since coming over from Miami.
The right-hander, though, was at his best Tuesday, scattering three hits and striking out 10 in his fifth career shutout, a 2-0 win over Kansas City.
"That's why the team brings me here, to help the team make the playoffs," he told the team's official website. "That is what I'm doing. When I get the chance to be on the mound, I'm just going to do my best to pitch games like that."
Sanchez struggled in his only career appearance against Minnesota (66-92), yielding five runs and a season-high 12 hits over 5 1-3 innings of a 9-3 road loss Aug. 13.
He faces a Twins team coming off its eighth home loss in 11 games, a stretch during which it's been outscored 68-33 while hitting .208.
Minnesota will try to regroup behind Liam Hendriks (1-8, 6.09), who continues to be plagued by the long ball. The right-hander's 1.95 homers allowed per nine innings ranks as baseball's fourth-highest mark among pitchers with at least 15 starts.
Hendriks couldn't keep the ball in the park Monday against the New York Yankees , giving up six runs and a career-high four homers during a 6-3 loss.
"I think tonight you saw what happens when you leave too many balls over the middle of the plate - they end up flying an awful long ways," manager Ron Gardenhire told the Twins' official website. "It's pretty much what hurt Liam all night long."
In his only appearance versus Detroit, Hendriks surrendered four runs, six hits and a career-worst four walks over four-plus innings of a 6-4 road win July 2.
After this game, Detroit plays its final series at Kansas City while Minnesota visits Toronto.
|September 28, 2012||Octavio Dotel||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore right biceps|
|September 27, 2012||Max Scherzer||Day-to-Day||Right deltoid strain|
|September 18, 2012||Max Scherzer||Day-to-Day||Left game - right shoulder fatigue|
|September 16, 2012||Austin Jackson||Day-to-Day||Sore left ankle|
|September 11, 2012||Ryan Raburn||15-Day DL||Strained right quadriceps|
|August 23, 2012||Doug Fister||Day-to-Day||Tightness in right groin|
|September 28, 2012||Eduardo Escobar||Day-to-Day||Left game - left elbow contusion|
|September 26, 2012||Samuel Deduno||Day-to-Day||Left game - left eye irritation|
|September 11, 2012||Joe Mauer||Day-to-Day||Back spasms|
|September 09, 2012||Cole De Vries||15-Day DL||Cracked rib|
|September 02, 2012||Josh Willingham||Day-to-Day||Slightly strained left hamstring|
|August 28, 2012||Denard Span||15-Day DL||Strained right sternoclavicular joint|
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Prince Fielder hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning to lift Detroit to a 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Sunday, assuring that the Tigers won't lose any of their lead on the White Sox in the AL Central.
The Tigers entered the day two games up on Chicago in the division with four to play.
Fielder's opposite-field shot off Jared Burton (3-2) barely got over the wall in left field for his 30th homer of the season.
Miguel Cabrera , who is trying to become the first player since 1967 to win the triple crown, went 0 for 3 with an intentional walk, dropping his AL-leading batting average to .325.
Twins star Joe Mauer went 3 for 4 with an intentional walk to raise his average to .323.
Anibal Sanchez gave up one run on seven hits in 6 1-3 innings, Phil Coke (2-3) got the win in relief and Jose Valverde picked up his 34th save.
Cabrera and the powerful Tigers offense was held down for most of the game by Liam Hendriks , who gave up five hits and struck out three in seven shutout innings.
When Pedro Florimon gave the Twins a 1-0 lead on a single in the seventh, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire went to the rock steady right-hander Burton for the eighth. But Austin Jackson led off with a single up the middle and Fielder hit the first pitch he saw out of the park.
The big first baseman was mobbed when he got to the Tigers dugout, with Detroit no doubt sensing the possibility of opening up a three-game lead on the White Sox, who were trailing Tampa Bay, with three games to play.
Cabrera entered the day leading the AL in batting average and RBIs - both by comfortable margins - and tied with Texas star Josh Hamilton for the lead in home runs.
But the batting race suddenly is up in the air.
Mauer hit three singles off Sanchez, while Cabrera had some hard luck with a ball hit squarely that Florimon was able to snatch out of the air at shortstop.
But Cabrera did find a way to have an impact on defense, jumping at first base to snag a line drive from Chris Parmelee in the sixth inning that stranded two runners in scoring position. The Twins had runners on first and third with nobody out in the inning, but Sanchez was able to get Justin Morneau to pop out and Ryan Doumit to tap one right back to him before Cabrera helped him wiggle out of the jam.
The Tigers will finish the regular season with three games in Kansas City. The White Sox have one more game against Tampa Bay before heading to Cleveland for three games.
NOTES: Tigers RHP Max Scherzer (shoulder) said he felt good after playing catch on Saturday and could be available to start the regular season finale against the Royals on Wednesday. Manager Jim Leyland said the team would be cautious with Scherzer, who missed his last start because of soreness in his deltoid. ... Gardenhire said he hopes to retain his entire coaching staff going into next season but knows that the front office could try to shake things up after back-to-back 90-loss seasons. "I have all the faith that they can do the job, but some of these things aren't going to be left up to me," he said. ... The Tigers will start RHP Rick Porcello (9-12, 4.68) in the opener against Kansas City on Monday against LHP Bruce Chen (11-13, 5.13).