The ex- Miami Marlins pitcher will face his former club for the first time Saturday night.
Sanchez recorded a personal-best 14th victory Sept. 11 to cap a career-high run of seven consecutive wins. He had that streak snapped Sunday with a 6-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
Sanchez (14-8, 2.64 ERA) will try to finish the regular season on a positive note by beating the team that traded him in a five-player deal July 23, 2012. That move has appeared to work out well as he's 18-14 with a 2.97 ERA in 40 starts with the Tigers after going 44-45 with a 3.69 ERA in 132 for the Marlins.
Sanchez will look to help Detroit (93-67) bounce back from a 3-2 loss in Friday's series opener that snapped an eight-game interleague win streak. Giancarlo Stanton gave the Marlins (60-100) all they would need with a three-run double in the third inning.
Jhonny Peralta tried to aid a Detroit comeback with an RBI double in his return from a 50-game suspension.
"I felt pretty good," Peralta said. "I saw the ball well, the breaking ball and everything. I made good contact."
Former Marlins slugger Miguel Cabrera had a pair of singles in his first game back in Miami and boosted his MLB-best average to .347.
Cabrera is set to make his final start of the regular season Saturday. He was originally slated to get the series opener off but persuaded manager Jim Leyland to give him the finale to rest.
"I prefer to play (Friday and Saturday) and try to have five days off and be ready for the playoffs," Cabrera told the team's official website.
The third baseman will face Nathan Eovaldi (4-6, 3.50) on Saturday, and the right-hander will try to duplicate one of his stronger outings of the season.
Eovaldi yielded three hits over 7 2-3 innings Monday in a 4-0 victory against Philadelphia, and is 2-1 with a 2.66 ERA in four outings this month.
"These last few starts and hopefully finishing up on a good note, is going to be big for next year," he said.
Eovaldi is 0-2 in four career interleague starts despite posting a 1.80 ERA. He is facing Detroit for the first time.
Prince Fielder (1 for 3) and Torii Hunter (0 for 3) are the only Tigers to have faced Eovaldi. Among the Marlins, Placido Polanco has experienced the most success against Sanchez, going 9 for 21 (.429) with two homers.
Miami's Steve Cishek will seek to earn his 30th consecutive save after closing out Friday's victory to extend his team-record run.
|September 27, 2013||Danny Worth||60-Day DL||Dislocated left shoulder|
|September 19, 2013||Jose Iglesias||Day-to-Day||Hand|
|September 19, 2013||Phil Coke||Day-to-Day||Elbow|
|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|
|September 09, 2013||Jeff Mathis||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised right thumb|
|September 08, 2013||Giancarlo Stanton||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore right foot and ankle|
|September 02, 2013||Henderson Alvarez||Day-to-Day||Left game - tight right hamstring|
|September 01, 2013||Giancarlo Stanton||Day-to-Day||Right ankle|
|August 19, 2013||Placido Polanco||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|August 19, 2013||Placido Polanco||7-Day DL||Concussion|
MIAMI (AP) -- When Anibal Sanchez escaped his only jam of the night, he pounded his glove with satisfaction as if it were a playoff game.
The stakes will rise soon enough.
In the meantime, Sanchez all but clinched the AL ERA title by pitching five scoreless innings Saturday for the Detroit Tigers , but Joaquin Benoit blew a save and they lost to the Miami Marlins 2-1 in 10 innings.
Sanchez lowered his ERA from 2.64 to 2.57 to increase a slim lead. Oakland's Bartolo Colon ranks second at 2.65 followed by Seattle's Hisashi Iwakuma at 2.66, and both have pitched their final game of the regular season.
"I'm happy for the ERA title," Sanchez said. "But it's not about numbers. It's about getting ready for the playoffs."
The AL Central champion Tigers learned Saturday their opponent in next week's division series will be the Athletics in Oakland beginning Friday.
"They're very good," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said, "and we're very good."
"My thoughts are that we're going to win," slugger Prince Fielder said. "Obviously they're a great team or they wouldn't be in this position. It's going to be tough, but of course I think my team is better."
With their playoff slot decided, the Tigers' next-to-last game of the regular season was mostly about statistics. Miguel Cabrera , already assured of his second consecutive AL batting title, went 2 for 4 to hike his average to .348.
He'll be held out of the starting lineup in Sunday's finale, but his first series in Miami since being traded by the Marlins in 2007 has been a box-office success. The crowd of 28,750 was the largest since the Marlins' home opener in April.
Detroit took a 1-0 lead into the ninth before the Marlins rallied against Benoit. He blew a save for only the second time in 26 chances this year, which prevented Sanchez from earning his 15th victory.
"If it's going to happen, it had better happen now and not in the postseason," Benoit said. "Better to get it over with. But it's still not a good thing to go through."
"He just wasn't sharp," Leyland said. "I have no concerns about him whatsoever."
Ed Lucas singled home the tying run with two outs in the ninth, and Benoit loaded the bases before he got out of the inning after throwing 31 pitches.
With a runner at second in the 10th inning, Miami's Donovan Solano took a 95-mph fastball from Evan Reed off his helmet. The sound could be heard in the upper deck as the helmet flew off, and Solano slowly went to one knee, but then walked off the field.
After the game, Solano said he was OK.
"I felt the hit but I feel normal now," he said. "It got the helmet."
Reed (0-1) loaded the bases with a walk, and with one out Giancarlo Stanton hit a winning RBI single.
Sanchez allowed two hits, walked none and struck out eight to finish with 202 strikeouts. He faced the Marlins for the first time after spending the first 6 1/2 seasons of his career with them.
"The first day I got here, a lot of memories went through my mind," he said. "I didn't try to do something special. I just went to the mound to do my job, throw strikes and get ready for the playoffs."
Miami's Nathan Eovaldi , plagued by poor run support all season, allowed one run in six innings. He finished with a 3.39 ERA.
"I'm happy with the outing," he said. "I feel like I finished on a good note this year. I made my pitches when I needed to."
Steve Cishek (4-6) pitched a hitless 10th.
Jhonny Peralta , who returned Friday from a 50-game suspension, went 2 for 5 for the Tigers. They went 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position, stranded 10 runners and grounded into two double plays.
Sanchez retired his first nine batters. He escaped a two-on jam in the fourth when Stanton grounded into an inning-ending double play, then finished with flourish, striking out the side in the fifth.
Detroit scored its run in the fourth when Fielder led off with a walk, took third on a single by Peralta and came home on Alex Avila 's sacrifice fly.
Eovaldi saved a run when he caught Fielder's comebacker with two on to end the fifth. Fielder lined the ball sharply into Eovaldi's glove, then flipped away his bat in disgust at his bad luck.
"If the ball had GPS on it," Fielder said, "everybody would hit .400."
NOTES: RHP Jose Fernandez was chosen as the Marlins' most valuable player and rookie of the year in voting by local sports writers. ... With 11 strikeouts Saturday, Tigers pitchers have 1,415 this season, breaking the major league record of 1,404 set by the 2003 Cubs. ... RHP Justin Verlander goes for his 14th victory Sunday against Miami's Henderson Alvarez .
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