It’s hard to get much attention pitching in the same rotation as Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, but there’s little doubt that Anibal Sanchez is worthy of some more.
Sanchez tries to continue a very impressive run and help the Tigers avoid a fourth loss in six games Wednesday night against the Minnesota Twins.
Verlander already has an MVP, a Cy Young Award and six All-Star appearances on his resume, while Scherzer appears headed for a 20-win season as the leading candidate for this year’s Cy Young.
Sanchez, meanwhile, toiled in relative obscurity pitching six-plus seasons for the Marlins before Detroit (73-52) acquired him in July 2012. He performed very well in last year’s playoffs and has been a big part of a Tigers rotation that leads the AL with a 3.43 ERA this season.
Since the All-Star break, Sanchez (11-7, 2.50 ERA) boasts a league-best 1.54 ERA in six starts and ranks sixth in the majors in that span. The right-hander is 4-1 in those games, winning four straight decisions and completing at least seven innings in each of his last four appearances.
Pitching at spacious Comerica Park has certainly benefited Sanchez, who is 7-2 with a 1.98 ERA in nine home starts, yielding one home run in 63 2-3 innings.
He’s 1-1 with a 1.90 ERA and 29 strikeouts over 23 2-3 innings in four starts this season against the Twins, but lasted only 3 2-3 in the most recent meeting June 15 after walking four and giving up Trevor Plouffe’s two-run homer.
Sanchez will try to prevent Minnesota from a second straight win after Justin Morneau homered among his season-high four hits and drove in four runs in Tuesday’s 6-3 victory. Pedro Florimon also went deep for the Twins (55-69), who had lost four in a row and six of seven.
Minnesota might end the season without Morneau, who can be traded by the end of the month because he cleared waivers.
“That’s just part of baseball in August,” he said. “There’s nothing I can do about it, and I don’t expect anything to happen. But if it does, I’ll deal with it. Right now, I’m just playing.”
Prince Fielder hit his 20th homer - his third in six games - but Detroit went 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position and dropped to 20-10 since the break.
Miguel Cabrera, who has been playing through a series of injuries, was 1 for 5 and struck out as the potential tying run for the game’s final out.
“I’m not sure if it was the groin or stomach area,” manager Jim Leyland said. “He was in some pain.”
Cabrera is batting .231 (6 for 26) with one extra-base hit in his last seven games against Minnesota, but he should be thrilled to see scheduled starter Kevin Correia. Cabrera is 11 for 22 with a home run against the right-hander.
Despite that, Correia (8-9, 4.61) has produced quality starts in all four career appearances against the Tigers, including a two-run, seven-inning outing at Target Field on April 3.
Correia is 3-7 with a 6.10 ERA in 12 road starts but was outstanding in a 5-2 win at Chicago on Aug. 11. He tossed five-hit ball over seven scoreless innings, walked one and matched a season high with seven strikeouts.
He wasn’t nearly as sharp Friday at home against the White Sox, yielding five runs and nine hits - two homers - in 7 1-3 innings of a 5-2 loss.
The Twins will be without All-Star Joe Mauer after he was put on the seven-day disabled list Tuesday with concussion-like symptoms.