He had already chopped his way into the Tigers record book, flamboyantly, three weeks ago when he struck out 17 batters, the most in a single game by any Tigers pitcher in history. Friday night at Comerica Park, Anibal Sanchez came within two batters of finding elite fame in baseball's all-time archives. With one out in the ninth, Sanchez lost what could have been his second career no-hitter when Twins catcher Joe Mauer lined a breaking pitch into center field. It was the only hit Sanchez allowed in a nine-inning masterpiece that saw the Tigers beat the Twins, 6-0, as an audience of 39,789 soaked in the drama, the tension, and what nearly became an epic achievement for the 29-year-old Sanchez. Mauer laced a 1-1 curveball into center as Comerica's crowd groaned ahead of a stirring, standing ovation for what Sanchez nearly accomplished. "I tried to make my best pitch, but Mauer is one of the best hitters in the league, and he got a hit at the worst moment," Sanchez said afterwards to FOX Sports Detroit. Against the daunting switch-hitter, Mauer, Sanchez had stayed away from the fastball that had been his best friend Friday. He threw a first-pitch change-up for a strike, followed with another change-up that missed the plate, and then stayed with his secondary menu as he flung a 1-1 curveball that Mauer mashed on a line into center. Sanchez struck out nine Twins batters and at one point had blown away 18 consecutive Twins ahead of an eighth-inning walk to Eduardo Escobar. "I was not going to take him out," Tigers manager Jim Leyland told FSD. To offset the 130 pitches Sanchez threw, the manager added he would limit the right-hander's pitch count in Sanchez's next outing. The Tigers, meanwhile, ripped apart Twins rookie starter Samuel Deduno, pounding him for nine hits and all six runs. Don Kelly hit a two-run home run, Miguel Cabrera drove in two runs with a bases-loaded single, and Omar Infante pushed across two more runs with a single and a bases-loaded walk as the Tigers won their fourth consecutive game and pushed their record to 27-19. Sanchez gave no immediate cue Friday that he might be headed for history. "At the beginning, I wasn't feeling like I was going to throw a good game, I was just trying to hit my spots because I didn't really throw well in my last outing," Sanchez told FSD. "My command was there, and that's what I know I had to work on because my pitches were working." My command was there, and that's what I know I had to work on because my pitches were working.
Anibal Sanchez flirts with no-hitter as Tigers down Twins
Detroit News | May 25