Orioles

Sanchez set to take the mound for trailing Tigers

Sanchez set to take the mound for trailing Tigers

DETROIT (AP) Justin Verlander already lost. Doug Fister pitched gamely, but his fine effort wasn't good enough either.

Now, with their World Series hopes slipping away, the Detroit Tigers turn to Anibal Sanchez - the least physically imposing member of their postseason rotation.

``We need to start over,'' Sanchez said. ``We need to forget what happened in San Francisco. I know we've got the talent. That's why we're here. We've got a pretty good team, so we're going to fight it to the end.''

Sanchez was acquired to help the Tigers make the playoffs - they were in the middle of a tough AL Central race with the Chicago White Sox when he arrived in a deal with Miami shortly before the trade deadline. The right-hander held up his end of the bargain, but now Detroit is playing for even higher stakes, and Saturday night's start in Game 3 of the World Series against San Francisco might be his most important test yet.

Although he went only 4-6 as a Tiger in the regular season, Sanchez began to pitch better down the stretch. That carried over into the postseason, where he's 1-1 with a 1.35 ERA.

The last time Sanchez pitched, he shut out the New York Yankees for seven innings in Game 2 of the AL championship series. That's the type of performance the Tigers were hoping for when they traded top pitching prospect Jacob Turner to the Marlins and acquired Sanchez and second baseman Omar Infante.

``I had seen him pitch on TV and stuff, but I didn't really know the young man,'' Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. ``Once he got in his comfort zone, I think he's done absolutely very, very well. He's a very, very good pitcher.''

The 6-foot Sanchez is 5 inches shorter than Verlander and 8 inches shorter than Fister. He was shaky after first joining the Tigers, but he posted a 2.43 ERA in his final six regular-season starts.

``I know I've got pretty bad starts in the beginning of my trade,'' Sanchez said. ``I didn't know too much, the hitters, but after that I make my adjustment.''

The trade for Sanchez was Detroit's last big move of the season. The Tigers were more than willing to trade a potential future star to acquire two players who could help them compete for a World Series title this year.

Detroit's starting rotation was marvelous against Oakland in the division series and the Yankees in the ALCS. But the Tigers were stung in the World Series opener by the Giants, losing 8-3 when Pablo Sandoval hit three home runs in a game Verlander started.

In Game 2, Fister took a line drive off his head but still managed to pitch into the seventh inning. San Francisco won 2-0.

Right-hander Max Scherzer looked like Detroit's best pitcher at times during the second half of the season, but his throwing shoulder acted up in September, so he's been slotted for Game 4 during the postseason, starting once per series.

So Sanchez is in line to pitch Saturday, with the season seemingly on the line and the prospect of a short series hanging over the proceedings.

``He's pitched pretty well against the Giants in the past, and obviously we're saving Scherzer to give him a little more time to keep recouping a little bit,'' Leyland said. ``But Sanchez has really gotten acclimated here in Detroit. I expect him to pitch a good game. The key is we're going to have to get some runs on the board, obviously.''

Sanchez shut out the Giants last year and held them to a run in seven innings in an outing this May. But in his most recent start against them - on May 24 - he was touched up for five runs.

``He'll throw any pitch at any time. He throws quality strikes,'' Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. ``We've had our tough times against him. He's a good pitcher.''

The Tigers faced elimination once this postseason already, when Verlander shut out Oakland in the fifth game of the division series. In fact, Detroit has been staring down the prospect of a disappointing finish seemingly all year. For much of the season, the Tigers were underachievers before they overtook the White Sox in September.

Then they went on their postseason run before encountering one more difficult roadblock.

If they're going to overcome the Giants, they'd better turn this series around soon.

``I think everybody is going to be relaxed,'' Sanchez said. ``We know we are home, we play really good here. We're going to keep doing the same.''

Quick Links

Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

alex-cobb-orioles.jpg
USA Today Sports

Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

TORONTO (AP) -- Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman gave up hits to the first three Baltimore batters Saturday.

The Orioles got just two more hits the rest of the afternoon.

Stroman pitched seven sharp innings for his second win in three starts and Toronto beat Baltimore 4-1 for its sixth straight victory over the struggling Orioles.

"He started working both sides of the plate with his sinker and I think that threw them off a little bit, especially late in counts," Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile said. "Overall it was just kind of vintage Stroman."

Baltimore right-hander Alex Cobb picked up his major league-worst 13th loss. The Orioles dropped to 1-8 against Toronto this season.

"I absolutely hate seeing that win-loss in parentheses next to my name," Cobb said. "It's sickening."

Stroman (3-7) allowed one run and five hits. He threw a season-high 107 pitches, the first time this season he has topped 100.

Stroman is 3-2 with a 3.03 ERA in five starts since returning from a shoulder injury that caused him to miss more than a month. He went 0-5 in seven starts before the injury.

"Since he's come back from the DL he's been really good," manager John Gibbons said. "I just think he's pitching like he's always pitched."

Stroman said he's focused on forgetting his early season struggles.

"I know I didn't have the first half I wanted but I've always been someone who prides myself on the second half and finishing strong," Stroman said. "That's something I'll look to continue to do this year."

Friend and teammate Devon Travis likes what he's seen from Stroman since the right-hander returned from injury.

"He's got that fire back," Travis said. "He's really under control. I think he's locking in on every single pitch."

Seunghwan Oh worked the eighth and Ryan Tepera finished for his seventh save in 12 opportunities.

Baltimore scored one run or fewer for the 27th time, the most in the majors.

The first three Orioles batters all singled, although Jonathan Schoop was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double. After Adam Jones gave Baltimore a 1-0 lead with an RBI hit to right, Mark Trumbo grounded into an inning-ending double play.

The Blue Jays answered with a three-run fourth against Cobb, taking advantage of a key Orioles error.

Justin Smoak opened the inning with a walk and, following a video review, was ruled safe at second after Cobb's high throw pulled shortstop Tim Beckham off the base on at attempted force play.

"That's not it in a nutshell but I can understand why that's the focus, a play we haven't been making," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.

Randal Grichuk followed with an RBI double, a second run scored on Diaz's double play grounder, and Maile capped the rally with an RBI single.

Diaz had four hits Friday, including the game-winning single in the 10th. He went 2 for 3 Saturday with a pair of singles.

The Blue Jays made it 4-1 in the fifth when Teoscar Hernandez doubled, advanced on a fly ball and scored on Cobb's balk.

Cobb (2-13) lost his sixth straight decision, allowing four runs, one earned, and four hits in five innings. Showalter said Cobb was removed to avoid worsening a blister on his pitching hand.

"I was only going to have a few more pitches going into the sixth so he felt like the risk-reward was not really worth it," Cobb said.

Grichuk made the defensive play of the game, a running catch on the warning track in left center to retire Trumbo for the first out of the ninth.

GOING DOWN?

Jones and Chris Davis got stuck in an elevator at the team's downtown hotel following Friday night's defeat. Jones documented much of the saga on Instagram. The players and fellow passengers were eventually rescued by Toronto Fire Services staff. The sound system at Rogers Centre played a few bars of Aerosmith's `Love in an Elevator' before Jones batted in the fourth inning Saturday.

NO HOMERS

Toronto won without hitting a home run for just the third time in 26 games this season.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Orioles: Baltimore is expected to demote a reliever when RHP Andrew Cashner (neck) is activated off the 10-day disabled list Sunday.

UP NEXT

Cashner (2-9, 4.56) last pitched July 10, when he allowed five runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings against the Yankees. Blue Jays LHP J.A. Happ (10-6, 4.29) is 0-3 with a 9.75 ERA in three July starts.

Quick Links

What to make of the Strasburg-Scherzer shouting match in the Nationals' dugout

scherzer-dugout.jpg
USA Today Sports

What to make of the Strasburg-Scherzer shouting match in the Nationals' dugout

Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer had a heated exchange in the Nationals dugout Friday night.

It was another not-so-great moment in an otherwise unspectacular season for the Nats so far.

Things like this often appear worse than they are based on what we can see, not hear, on television. In any case, it has fans and pundits talking about a perceived off-the-field issue instead of the actual game. There's nothing "good" about this, but there are important factors that are "bad" and ones that are "not bad."

Davey Martinez, Strasburg and Scherzer already said this has been settled and wasn't a big deal in the first place, but for a manager who's already faced some scrutiny this year for how he manages his pitchers, having two of them go at it in the dugout isn't ideal.

It also doesn't present the best optics for a team that came out of the All-Star Break 5.5 games back of the division-leading Philadelphia Phillies. The Nationals need to build some momentum heading into the dog days of summer, and after a lackluster first half, this isn't how anybody would want to start the second half.

This was also Strasburg's first start back from a month-long stint on the disabled list. Ryan Zimmerman just rejoined the club as well. Things are shaping up to make for a solid second-half run, but all this does is detract from that.

The Nationals also just hosted the first All-Star Game in Washington since 1969. Having something like this happen in the dugout where everybody can see it takes away from some of that good publicity.

But there are also positives, or at least non-negatives, to take from this. Scherzer has always been ultracompetitive, and as the best pitcher on the staff, he needs to harness that into leadership. With Strasburg coming off a rough inning, Scherzer may have thought he needed a little tough love from a veteran. There's nothing wrong with that. Strasburg, to his credit, has never been one to focus too much on himself, so if there's anyone who can take something like this constructively, it'd be him.

This isn't Jonathan Paplebon fighting Bryce Harper for not running out a pop fly the day after the Nats were eliminated from playoff contention. These are two veteran guys who play the same position who are both competitive and want to win. It's akin to an older brother pushing his younger brother to do better. Strasburg even hinted at the family aspect after the game.

In the end, there's really nothing to see here. Frustration is part of the game. Talking it out is a part of remedying the frustration.

What really matters is tracking down the Braves and the Phillies. The Nationals can get started on that Sunday in the second game of a rain-shortened two-game series against the Braves.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS: