Over the years, I’ve watched quite a few Marlins games, so I’ve probably seen more of Anibal Sanchez than the average Tigers fan, although I have not seen a lot of him this year.
However, since this trade first happened, I’ve had a tough time describing him. He’s not flashy, but he generally gets the job done, though he’ll have an occasional blowup that inflates his ERA. Actually, his stance, delivery, and demeanor on the mound remind me a lot of Armando Galarraga (who is back in the big leagues and is starting tonight for Houston).
Sanchez is obviously a different pitcher in terms of stuff, but today he was plagued by something that Galarraga has had problems with: The home run ball. For the record, Sanchez’s HR/9 ratio this year is only 0.9, but the Blue Jays weren’t letting him get away with any mistakes. And that’s somewhat unfortunate, because it ruins what was otherwise a decent start (and for what it’s worth, Leyland mentioned in his postgame interview that he should not have sent him out for the seventh inning). Beyond that, you can’t really determine anything from one start. Sanchez had already been roughed up by the Blue Jays once this year, and this was also the first time Jim Leyland and Jeff Jones saw him pitch in person. They’ll work with him on whatever adjustments they think are necessary and we’ll see what he does his next start.
The Tigers’ bullpen has been a bit sluggish in this series, and some of that might be traced to being underworked (and don’t get me wrong; that’s definitely a good thing for the team because it means the starters are giving them innings).
Last night, Octavio Dotel and Duane Below both showed signs of rust after not having pitched in several days and gave up runs. Today, Brayan Villarreal and Phil Coke (both of whom have had work relatively recently) fared better than Dotel and Below did, but they still seemed a little off.
For some reason, Villarreal was way too amped up, like how he was at the beginning of the season. I have no idea why pitching in a game where your team is down by four runs would do that. I mean, he’s pitched in much higher pressure situations than that, and he’s done just fine.
Whatever the reason, after giving up a bloop single to Brett Lawrie and looking really wild on a four-pitch walk to Edwin Encarnacion, he settled down and made good pitches after that to get himself out of the mess (flyout, caught stealing, groundout). Phil Coke has recently gotten himself into a pattern of allowing one or two baserunners and then retiring the side, usually on strikeouts. That is what happened today. Still, like Villarreal, he got himself out of his own trouble.
This was the first time I had a good look at Henderson Alvarez, and I will say he’s got good a good fastball. You don’t often see 95 MPH with the movement he has. Still, this is one of those games where you credit the pitcher or blame the hitters.
Granted, the Tigers are in a stretch where they’re facing a lot of pitchers they’ve either never seen or have not seen much of. There really haven’t been a lot of scoring opportunities, either. One thing I’ve noticed in this series is that the Tigers have hit a ton of medium-depth flyball outs.
Either they’re just missing pitches or that’s what Toronto’s game plan is against them and they’re executing it to perfection (Speaking of game plans, in the sixth inning, it looked like Alvarez was pitching around Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder to get to the guys hitting behind him, and I say that because those were the only two walks he gave up. I guess we should be on the watch for if that becomes a trend).
Maybe tomorrow they can get some runners on third with less than two out and those medium-depth flyballs can turn into sacrifice flies at the very least.