Anibal Sanchez put on a dazzling display in one of the best pitching performances in recent memory his last time out.
Now everyone is eager to see what he can do for an encore.
Coming off his 17-strikeout masterpiece, Sanchez will try to lead the Tigers to a sixth straight victory Wednesday in the series finale against the visiting Minnesota Twins .
Off to a very solid start this season, Sanchez (3-1, 1.34 ERA) went well beyond that and had a game for the ages Friday, notching a franchise-record 17 strikeouts in eight innings and allowing five hits and one walk in a 10-0 win over Atlanta.
Since at least 1921, only Randy Johnson has struck out more than 17 while pitching eight innings or less. Johnson, then with Seattle, fanned 18 against Texas in 1992.
Sanchez was asked after the game about his new place in franchise history."Amazing," he said. "I'm just going to keep working. That's not going to stop today."
The right-hander has held opponents to two or fewer earned runs in each of his five starts, pitching at least 6 2-3 innings in his last four outings."I don't think too much about strikeouts and records and things like that," said Sanchez said, who has a 41:9 strikeout-to-walk ratio. "I prefer getting some zeros."
He is 5-3 with a 1.30 ERA in his last 10 starts, including three in the 2012 postseason.
Now, Sanchez will face one of the league's weakest offenses, one he held to two hits over five scoreless innings at Target Field on April 3. He was in line for the win in that game before Detroit's bullpen faltered in the ninth inning of a 3-2 loss.
The Twins (11-12) rank near the bottom of the AL in runs scored (92), homers (15) and batting average (.237). They were held to six hits against Justin Verlander and three relievers in Tuesday's 6-1 loss.
Sanchez's teammates, meanwhile, have given Detroit pitchers plenty of support lately. The Tigers (15-10) have outscored opponents 35-11 during a five-game win streak and have 11 home runs, 10 doubles and a triple during that stretch."The name of the game in baseball is to try to extend your winning streaks - when you're playing well - as long as you can, and shorten the losing streaks," Verlander said. "You're not going to be hot the whole year. Our talent is going to take over, and I feel like we're starting to show that now."
Cabrera, who is batting .420 at home, finished April with 28 RBIs, the most by a Tigers player in the opening month since at least 1921. He is 7 for 15 with a pair of doubles off scheduled starter Scott Diamond .
Fielder has four home runs and 14 RBIs in his last 11 home games against Minnesota.
Sanchez may have the added benefit of not facing Joe Mauer , who ended a career-worst 0-for-21 skid with a third-inning single Tuesday. Manager Ron Gardenhire said he may rest his veteran catcher with the Twins off Thursday.
Diamond (1-2, 4.32) looks to continue a run of solid outings against the Tigers. Since losing his first start versus Detroit on Aug. 26, 2011, the left-hander has gone 1-1 with a 1.98 ERA in four meetings.
He has a 2.35 ERA in three career starts at Comerica Park.
Diamond gave up a career-high 12 hits over 6 1-3 innings against Texas on Friday, but was able to limit the Rangers to three runs in a 4-3 loss.
|April 16, 2013||Wilkin Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Back contusion|
|April 16, 2013||Darin Mastroianni||15-Day DL||Stress reaction in left ankle|
|March 30, 2013||Cole De Vries||15-Day DL||Right forearm strain|
|March 24, 2013||Tim Wood||15-Day DL||Right rotator cuff strain|
|March 22, 2013||Scott Diamond||15-Day DL||Recovery from left elbow surgery|
|March 22, 2013||Anthony Swarzak||15-Day DL||Fractured ribs|
|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) -- Aaron Hicks hit a line drive to the right-field corner and immediately took off around the bases, reaching third to lead off the seventh inning.
That's what the Twins were envisioning when they put the rookie in the lineup this year, and after a rough first month in the major leagues, Hicks began May in encouraging fashion.
Hicks' triple started a two-run rally in the seventh, and the Twins went on to beat Detroit 6-2 on Wednesday, snapping the Tigers' five-game winning streak. Minnesota led 3-2 when Hicks tripled and scored. The former first-round draft pick was 8 for 73 before connecting with Bruce Rondon 's 101-mph fastball for an important hit.
"That was big for me," Hicks said. "With no outs, that's important to get more runs on the board, give our pitchers more of a cushion."
Scott Diamond pitched six solid innings for Minnesota, and the Twins got to Anibal Sanchez early. Sanchez (3-2) was coming off a 17-strikeout performance against Atlanta, and he fanned five in the first two innings against the Twins - but Minnesota scored two runs in the first and another in the second.
Diamond (2-2) didn't allow a hit until Jhonny Peralta 's single in the fifth.
"They won our division last year, made it to the World Series," Diamond said. "They're the team to beat right now. ... I enjoy facing them. I enjoy coming to Detroit and pitching here."
The Tigers fought back after trailing 3-0, but Rondon allowed two more runs in the seventh to make it 5-2. Chris Parmelee hit a solo homer in the eighth.
Diamond allowed two runs and four hits and was pulled after 88 pitches.
Closer Glen Perkins pitched the ninth for Minnesota in a non-save situation. He allowed singles by Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder with nobody out, but Victor Martinez hit into a double play, helping Perkins out of the jam.
Sanchez allowed three runs and five hits in six innings. He struck out nine and walked two. Reliever Jose Ortega struck out two in the ninth, giving the Detroit staff 11 strikeouts for the game. It was the sixth consecutive game for the Tigers with at least 10 strikeouts - the longest streak by an American League team since at least 1921.
Sanchez struck out the first two hitters he faced, but his command was poor early on. He walked Josh Willingham and allowed an RBI double by Justin Morneau . After a walk by Ryan Doumit , Parmelee hit a single to left. Morneau tried to score from second, and although Matt Tuiasosopo 's throw home was a good one, catcher Brayan Pena couldn't hold onto the ball while trying to make a quick tag.
After one inning, Sanchez had already thrown 41 pitches. Minnesota struck out three times in the second but took a 3-0 lead on Jamey Carroll 's RBI double. Sanchez only pitched eight innings in the game against the Braves, so after two innings Wednesday, he had 22 strikeouts in his last 10.
The right-hander's control came around eventually, and he retired his last 11 hitters.
"I think Sanchy was just too excited at the start," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "He was throwing too hard, and it hurt his command. He got it back, because he's an excellent pitcher, and we were able to get it within one."
But Diamond didn't give up the lead. A line drive by Tuiasosopo in the second appeared to hit him in the right leg, but the left-hander recovered in time to make the play.
Diamond missed the start of the season after elbow surgery in December, but he's gone at least six innings in three of his four starts.
"I felt like I had a lot better stuff today," Diamond said. "Today was a big step in the progression toward getting back."
Torii Hunter hit an RBI single in the sixth to get Detroit on the scoreboard, and Cabrera followed with an RBI double, but Diamond retired Fielder and Martinez on groundouts to end the inning.
Hicks' role increased after the Twins traded center fielders Denard Span and Ben Revere to Philadelphia. He hasn't been hitting well, but after he led off the seventh with a triple, Pedro Florimon slapped a single up the middle to put Minnesota up 4-2.
Rondon walked two hitters to load the bases before being taken out. Darin Downs allowed an RBI single by Morneau before getting Doumit to ground into a double play to end the threat.
Parmelee's homer made it 6-2 the following inning.
NOTES: Sanchez threw 115 pitches. ... Since 1974, the most strikeouts for a pitcher over the course of 10 consecutive innings is 23, according to STATS. ... Detroit travels to Houston for a four-game series. Rick Porcello (1-2) is expected to start Thursday night for the Tigers. Minnesota has Thursday off.