Detroit manager Jim Leyland believes Anibal Sanchez is much better than he's looked during his short time with the Tigers.
Sanchez tries to avoid a third consecutive losing start Wednesday night and help the Tigers hand the struggling Toronto Blue Jays a fifth straight road defeat.
Since a 10-2 victory over Cleveland on Aug. 3 in his second outing after Detroit acquired him from Miami, Sanchez (1-3, 7.97 ERA) has allowed 12 runs and 19 hits in 8 1-3 innings over his last two starts. He'll be taking the mound Wednesday for the first time since Aug. 13, when he gave up five runs and 12 hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 9-3 loss at Minnesota.
"He's not keeping the ball down well enough," Leyland said. "I certainly know that he's a better pitcher than he's shown so far."
Sanchez has been even worse in two starts against the Blue Jays this season, losing both while allowing 11 runs, 15 hits and seven walks over 9 1-3 innings. In his Detroit debut July 28, he gave up five runs and eight hits - three homers - in six innings of a 5-1 loss at Toronto.
As Sanchez tries to turn things around, the Tigers (65-57) hope to build on Tuesday's 5-3 series-opening win. Max Scherzer allowed one run in seven innings and Austin Jackson had three hits for Detroit, which walked nine times as it bounced back after dropping two straight at home to Baltimore over the weekend.
The Tigers remained two games behind AL Central-leading Chicago, and still very much in the mix for a wild-card spot.
"This one's in the book, you turn the page,'' Leyland said. "That's what we've got to do now. Got to just play it out and see what happens.''
Jackson is 7 for 14 in his last three games after going 2 for 12 over his previous five. He's 13 for 26 in seven career contests versus Toronto at Comerica Park.
Edwin Encarnacion hit his 32nd homer Tuesday for Toronto (56-66), which has lost three in a row and six of seven overall. The Blue Jays have also totaled of seven runs during a four-game road skid, and have scored three runs or fewer in five straight overall contests.
Encarnacion went 2 for 5 in the opener after going 0 for 6 over the previous two games. He's 2 for 4 with a homer off Sanchez.
Scheduled Toronto starter Aaron Laffey (3-4, 4.70) served up three home runs and one other hit in six innings Thursday to lose his second straight start, 7-2 to the White Sox. The left-hander has allowed eight homers over his last five starts while going 1-3 with a 7.39 ERA.
"I just worry about myself and in the end, go back and take the positives from (the last) game," Laffey told the Blue Jays' official website. "Obviously, the three mistakes (Thursday) that I made, there's nothing you can really do about those, you can't take them back. So, just move on."
Laffey is 0-2 with a 3.91 ERA in four career starts versus Detroit, but has not started a game against the Tigers since 2009, when he was with Cleveland.