Sanchez goes for a sixth straight victory Friday night when the Tigers open this three-game road series against the Kansas City Royals , the most recent team to defeat him.
Detroit (81-59) leads the division by 6 1/2 games on second-place Cleveland with 22 to play.
"It's all about winning games," third baseman Miguel Cabrera told the team's official website.
Sanchez (12-7, 2.68 ERA), the AL ERA leader, is doing his part to help the Tigers match a franchise record with a third straight trip to the postseason.
The right-hander is 5-0 with a 2.36 ERA over eight starts since taking a 1-0 loss at Kansas City (73-67) on July 19. He allowed one run with a season-high five walks in six innings.
Sanchez lost his only other outing there by the same score Aug. 29, 2012, yielding one run in seven innings.
Some help from the offense could be just what he needs to match his career high of six straight wins with the Florida Marlins from April 22-June 10, 2011.
Sanchez got plenty of support Saturday, when he allowed three runs in 6 2-3 innings of a 10-5 home win over the Indians.
That was the first of four games over a five-contest stretch without Cabrera, who has been hampered by an abdomen injury.
The Tigers could have used him in Wednesday's 20-4 loss at Boston, their third in four games. Manager Jim Leyland would like to get the reigning AL MVP and Triple Crown winner back in the lineup.
"He knows he can still be a force playing handicapped," Leyland told the team's official website. "And we've been very fortunate to play as well as we have, but that luck will run out at some point if he's not in there. We've been very fortunate, but I wouldn't keep counting on that.
"It's not to slight somebody else that's in the lineup. I mean, you can miss a good player. But when you're talking about the elite, they change the strategy."
Don Kelly has started Detroit's last two games without Cabrera, and he's 4 for 23 over his last 11 contests.
Cabrera, though, is 4 for 20 (.200) with two homers and three RBIs in six games at Kansas City this year. He had a .366 average with 10 homers and 40 RBIs over his first 47 games there.
The eight-time All-Star owns a .421 average (16 for 38) with six doubles and two homers versus Royals starter James Shields (10-8, 3.03).
The Royals are trying to remain a factor in the AL wild-card race, and they're looking to win for the 10th time in 13 tries. They may have gained an emotional lift Thursday, when they erased a five-run deficit before Mike Moustakas ' walkoff homer cinched a 7-6,13-inning win over Seattle.
"Every game is crucial and extremely important," manager Ned Yost said. "We've seen our players do this the majority of the year. They don't believe if we're down by five we're out of it or we're going to lose the game."
That's also been the case with Shields on the mound. The right-hander is 4-0 with a 1.53 ERA over his last five starts, and that includes seven innings of a 3-0 victory at Detroit on Aug. 16.
Shields was superb again Sunday, matching a season high with nine strikeouts in seven innings of a 5-0 victory at Toronto.
|September 04, 2013||Jose Iglesias||Day-to-Day||Bilateral shin splints|
|August 24, 2013||Jose Iglesias||Day-to-Day||Sore left elbow|
|August 17, 2013||Omar Infante||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back stiffness|
|August 11, 2013||Alex Avila||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|August 11, 2013||Alex Avila||15-Day DL||Concussion|
|July 31, 2013||Miguel Cabrera||Day-to-Day||Strained lower abdomen|
|Kansas City Royals|
|September 05, 2013||Salvador Perez||Day-to-Day||Concussion|
|September 03, 2013||Noel Arguelles||60-Day DL||Left shoulder|
|August 13, 2013||Mike Moustakas||Day-to-Day||Strained left calf|
|August 11, 2013||Miguel Tejada||60-Day DL||Strained right calf|
|August 09, 2013||Lorenzo Cain||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|August 09, 2013||Lorenzo Cain||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Andy Dirks and Omar Infante were the five-hit stars for the Detroit Tigers on Friday night.
Infante set career highs with five hits and six RBIs, Dirks also went 5 for 5 and the Tigers pounded the Kansas City Royals 16-2.
"I don't know how many times it happened, two guys with five hits in the same game," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "It's just one of those games, a freak game."
Austin Jackson drove in four runs as the Tigers finished with a season-high 26 hits. Dirks, who is hitting .410 against Kansas City this season, scored four times.
"The hits just fell tonight," Dirks said. "That's baseball. When I hit it, it just went in the holes."
The Tigers' rout came after they were clubbed 20-4 at Boston in their previous game.
"I don't even remember that game," Dirks said. "In baseball if you win a game by one run or 20 runs, it only counts as one game."
But Dirks, who went to Wichita State, won't forget this one. Dirks' parents were at the game.
"That was nice," he said.
Infante had run-scoring singles in the second, fourth and seventh innings and a three-run double in the fifth.
It was more than enough support for Anibal Sanchez (13-7), who allowed one run in seven innings while lowering his AL-best ERA to 2.61.
"Sanchez, in my opinion, shut their offense down and that was the key to the game," Leyland said.
Sparked by the return of Miguel Cabrera , every Detroit starter had a hit and scored a run in the first five innings. The Tigers sent 10 men to the plate in the second and fourth, scoring five times in each frame.
Cabrera, who did not play in four of the previous five games because of an abdominal strain, went 1 for 2 with an RBI and walked twice before being replaced by Danny Worth in the sixth inning.
"I wanted to get him out an inning earlier, but he wanted one more at-bat," Leyland said. "So I let hit him again and got him out of there, but we ended up getting a lot of guys out there to give them a little blow. That worked out good."
Much of Detroit's onslaught came against James Shields , who was knocked out in the fourth inning in one of the worst starts of his career.
"I actually went back and looked at the video, and a lot of my pitches they were hitting were below the strike zone," Shields said. "That's a good hitting team over there, and I didn't do my job tonight. You've got to move forward, but it was a terrible job by me."
Jackson had a two-run double in the second and a two-run single in the fourth. The four RBIs matched his career high.
Shields (10-9), who was 4-0 in his previous five starts, was charged with 10 runs and 14 hits in 3 2-3 innings in his shortest start of the season. The runs and hits matched career-worst totals for the right-hander.
The last team to collect 14 hits against Shields was the Tigers on June 28, 2012, in 7 2-3 innings.
Billy Butler drove in the first Royals run with a single in the first for his sixth straight hit. David Lough doubled and scored on Jarrod Dyson 's sacrifice fly in the ninth for the other Kansas City run.
"A loss is a loss," said Alex Gordon , who doubled in the first. "That's the way you've got to look at it. Turn the page."
NOTES: Royals C Salvador Perez was cleared to play after experiencing dizziness Thursday and leaving in the fifth inning after taking a foul tip off the mask. Perez, who was on the concussion list in August, switched to a new mask. "We're going to scoot him up under the hitters a little closer, see if maybe he can dodge some foul balls that way," Royals manager Ned Yost said. ... SS Jose Iglesias was held out of the Tigers lineup after leaving in the fifth Wednesday with shin splints. ... Yost said 2B Chris Getz has not been cleared to return after suffering a possible concussion Tuesday. ... RHP Justin Verlander , who starts Saturday, is 0-2 with a 2.60 ERA in four 2012 starts against the Royals.