Maholm goes for a team-high fourth victory Friday night when the NL East-leading Braves and struggling Tigers meet for the first time in three seasons.
Opening his first full season with Atlanta (15-6), Maholm (3-1, 1.03 ERA) worked 25 1-3 scoreless innings before giving up three runs in the sixth of Saturday's 3-1 loss at Pittsburgh. His shutout streak was the longest by a starter to open a season since Luis Tiant (27 innings) in 1966."I never really thought about the streak because I knew I was going to give up some runs at some point," said Maholm, tied with Mike Minor and reliever Eric O'Flaherty for the team lead in wins.
That wouldn't be the first time an opposing pitcher thought that heading into a start at Comerica Park. The Tigers (10-10) are batting .319 and averaging 6.3 runs at home. However, the defending AL champs are hitting .207 with 14 total runs during a 1-5 skid. Half of those runs crossed in a 7-5 victory over Kansas City on Wednesday when Detroit snapped a four-game skid.
The Tigers had five hits - a season-low at home - in Thursday's 8-3, 10-inning loss to the Royals.
Detroit will now try to avoid falling below .500 for the first time since it way 1-2 as it opens interleague play. It went 11-7 against the NL in 2012, including 6-3 at home.
The Tigers hosted the Braves once before, winning two of three in 2004. Detroit dropped two of three at Turner Field in 2010, but still owns a 9-6 edge in the series.
While there isn't much history between these clubs, scheduled starter Anibal Sanchez (2-1, 1.75) has faced the Braves 17 times, tied for his second-most appearances against any opponent. The veteran right-hander did not enjoy much success in those matchups while with the Marlins, going 4-11 with a 5.42 ERA. He has a 7.92 ERA in losing his last five starts versus Atlanta.
Sanchez hasn't surrendered a homer in 25 2-3 innings after lasting 6 2-3 in last Friday's 8-1 loss at the Los Angeles Angels , but keeping the ball in the park could be a test against an Atlanta team that leads the majors with 35 homers.
Braves slugger Justin Upton , the majors' leader with 11 home runs, is 4 for 13 with a homer off Sanchez and a .333 hitter in nine games against Tigers pitching.
Miguel Cabrera , batting .405 during a nine-game hitting streak, is a .319 hitter against Atlanta. He's 4 for 13 off Maholm.
Teammate Prince Fielder is 7 for 51 (.137) with 15 strikeouts in that matchup.
If Maholm runs into any problems, manager Fredi Gonzalez will have no problem turning to closer Craig Kimbrel , who blew his first save of the season in Wednesday's 6-5, 12-inning loss at Colorado, or a relieving corps that owns a MLB-best 1.60 ERA."There will be no residue the next time he goes out there," Gonzalez said of Kimbrel.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland hopes the same is true with his bullpen after it imploded Thursday. A day after Jose Valverde worked a perfect ninth in his season debut, Bruce Rondon blew a save in his major league debut, Phil Coke walked in the go-ahead run in the 10th inning and Darin Downs surrendered a grand slam to Alex Gordon .
"We would have liked to get (Rondon) an easier spot, but if you are here, you have to pitch, and we were short," said Leyland, who was without Valverde and Al Alburquerque after both pitched the previous night.
|April 23, 2013||Jason Heyward||Day-to-Day||Appendectomy|
|April 21, 2013||Jason Heyward||15-Day DL||Appendectomy|
|April 20, 2013||Dan Uggla||Day-to-Day||Left game - left calf strain|
|April 20, 2013||Blake DeWitt||15-Day DL||Lower back strain|
|April 16, 2013||Luis Avilan||Day-to-Day||Left game - left hamstring injury|
|April 07, 2013||Cristhian Martinez||15-Day DL||Right shoulder strain|
|April 21, 2013||Octavio Dotel||Day-to-Day||Elbow inflammation|
|April 20, 2013||Octavio Dotel||15-Day DL||Right elbow inflammation|
|April 09, 2013||Victor Martinez||Day-to-Day||Lacerated right thumb|
|March 22, 2013||Avisail Garcia||15-Day DL||Bruised right heel|
DETROIT (AP) -- Anibal Sanchez approached the dugout with the crowd at Comerica Park roaring its approval, then he took off his hat to acknowledge the fans.
Aware of his pitch count, he realized his night was probably done - but what an evening it was.
Sanchez struck out 17 in eight marvelous innings for Detroit, confounding the Atlanta Braves in a dazzling performance Friday night and leading the Tigers to a 10-0 victory. Sanchez broke Mickey Lolich 's team record of 16 strikeouts when he fanned three in the eighth inning.
"It's hard to get much better than that," manager Jim Leyland said.
Sanchez threw 121 pitches in those eight innings, so there would be no return for the ninth to try to match Roger Clemens and Kerry Wood with 20 strikeouts. In fact, Leyland said he was ready to take Sanchez out after the seventh before letting him pitch a bit longer.
Sanchez was asked after the game about his new place in franchise history. The Tigers have been around for over a century, and nobody has had a game quite like this.
"Amazing," Sanchez said. "I'm just going to keep working. That's not going to stop today."
Clemens and Wood are the only pitchers to strike out 20 in a nine-inning game. Since at least 1921, only Randy Johnson has struck out more than 17 while pitching eight innings or less. Johnson, who was then with Seattle, fanned 18 against Texas in a 1992 game, according to STATS.
Lolich struck out 16 twice in less than three weeks in 1969.
Sanchez (3-1) allowed five hits and one walk Friday.
"I don't think too much about strikeouts and records and things like that," Sanchez said. "I prefer getting some zeros."
Paul Maholm (3-2) allowed eight runs in 3 2-3 innings after giving up only three in his first four starts. Detroit's Matt Tuiasosopo homered and drove in a career-high five runs.
Sanchez kept the Braves off balance all night, striking out at least two hitters in every inning except the fourth. Several of his strikeouts came when he got Atlanta hitters to chase balls down around the dirt. He got Dan Uggla four times and Freddie Freeman and Juan Francisco three times each.
"He was really good. I don't even know if he missed a spot," Uggla said. "Everything was moving, cutting and sinking."
Comerica is no stranger to high strikeout totals. Max Scherzer struck out 15 for the Tigers last year in a home game against Pittsburgh. Justin Verlander 's career high is 14.
"We were joking after the game that Anibal is No. 1, I'm No. 2 and Ver is just average," Scherzer said.
When told about that comment, Verlander - a former MVP and Cy Young Award winner who has thrown two no-hitters - paused briefly.
"That's OK," he said. "I've got a few other things."
This was Sanchez's night. His performance overshadowed Tuiasosopo's big game with the bat. Tuiasosopo entered the game with 16 RBIs in a major league career that began with Seattle in 2008. He was a somewhat surprising addition to Detroit's roster out of spring training, but he's hit well in limited action with the Tigers.
Tuiasosopo's bases-loaded single in the third drove in two runs and made it 4-0.
Detroit scored six runs the following inning. An RBI double by Victor Martinez made it 7-0 and chased Maholm, and with two on, Tuiasosopo hit a drive over the left-field fence for his first homer since 2010.
After that, it was just a question of how many hitters Sanchez could strike out. He'd already fanned 14 at the start of the eighth, matching Yu Darvish of Texas for the highest single-game total in the majors this season.
Then he left that mark behind, fanning Francisco and Reed Johnson to start the inning. After Andrelton Simmons singled, Uggla struck out, and Sanchez's work was done.
NOTES: According to STATS, Sanchez now holds the record for most strikeouts in a regular-season interleague game. The previous mark was 16, set by Philadelphia's Curt Schilling in 1997 against the New York Yankees and Boston's Pedro Martinez in 1999 against Atlanta. ... Sanchez lowered his ERA to 1.34. Maholm's went up from 1.03 to 3.30. ... Detroit's Miguel Cabrera extended his hitting streak to 10 games. ... Detroit's Rick Porcello (0-2) faces Atlanta's Kris Medlen (1-2) on Saturday.