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Sanchez's gem goes for naught vs. Padres

Veteran has pitched well since return from Minors
Special to MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- The Tigers' Anibal Sanchez continues to show he's not done yet.

In his second start since returning from the Miinors, Sanchez's outing was among the few bright spots in Detroit's 7-3 loss to the Padres on Saturday night at Petco Park.

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SAN DIEGO -- The Tigers' Anibal Sanchez continues to show he's not done yet.

In his second start since returning from the Miinors, Sanchez's outing was among the few bright spots in Detroit's 7-3 loss to the Padres on Saturday night at Petco Park.

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The Tigers lost for the eighth straight time. But for the second straight time, Sanchez was keen.

"That's two outings in a row that he did a nice job,'' Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said.

Sanchez, who lost a Spring Training battle for a rotation spot, pitched six strong innings. He was charged with two runs (one earned) and two hits. He didn't walk a batter and notched four strikeouts.

"He threw the ball well,'' catcher Alex Avila said. "For the most part he had good command on everything. He had real good command on the changeup. Had some swings and misses on that. But overall he pitched very well today.''

Sanchez is getting by, to some degree, on guile and guts. His blazing fastball which led to a no-hitter his rookie season in 2006 and helped him pace the American League in ERA in 2013, doesn't have the same giddy-up.

So he gets by on a mixture of pitches, hoping to fool guys instead of making them look foolish chasing a fastball they can't touch.

"I think me and Alex had a really good game plan and we applied it during the game,'' Sanchez said. "I just tried to keep the score close and make every pitch with a purpose.''

He was pitching at Triple-A Toledo until June 14, stretching his arm back out so he could return as a starter. After not making the rotation out of camp, Sanchez had 11 relief appearances for the Tigers. His 9.00 ERA was no misprint and neither was his ticket to the Minors.

The veteran could have turned down being shipped to the Minors, but that wasn't how Sanchez, in his 11th year, went about it. The right-hander took the assignment and after honing his control in four starts, he was summoned to Detroit.

Sanchez surrendered two runs in five innings on Monday in Seattle, proving he could still retire batters with a different approach.

"I think the biggest thing in the last two outings is I feel really good with my command,'' he said. "I don't try to force my fastball or just go with one pitch every single time. That has helped me the last two outings.''

Avila agreed that for Sanchez to have the right stuff, he has to be right-on point.

"For the pitcher it's about command,'' Avila said. "Typically when they're having success they're able to command two or three pitches, as far as starters are concerned. Moving out of the zone when they want to.

"With him that's key. He doesn't throw mid-90s like he used to. He's gotta be able to use his arsenal.''

His weapons, while not overbearing, were on display against the Padres. Too bad they weren't enough for the Tigers to snap their eight-game losing streak.

Jay Paris is a contributor to MLB.com based in San Diego. He covered the Tigers on Saturday.

Detroit Tigers, Anibal Sanchez