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Anibal excited for 'chance of a lifetime' Game 3 start

Sanchez 'blessed' to be in postseason after trade from Miami
OAK View Full Game Coverage LAND -- Considering that on July 22, Anibal Sanchez was still playing for the Marlins, he knows he's a lucky man.

The right-hander is slated to take the mound for Detroit against Oakland in Game 3 of their American League Division Series on Tuesday at 9:07 p.m. ET at the Coliseum in a game broadcast by TBS.

Not only is Sanchez making his first postseason appearance after playing six-plus seasons for the Marlins, he'll have the luxury of his club leading, 2-0, in the best-of-five series.

The Tigers could wrap it up on Tuesday evening. Left-hander Brett Anderson, returning from an oblique injury, will try and stave off elimination for the A's.

"I feel good," Sanchez said after the Tigers came from behind to defeat the A's, 5-4, on Sunday in Game 2 at Comerica Park. "I know that it's playoff time. I've never been in that situation, and I feel great. I think it's better now, because we're ahead. There's not too much pressure at all. We just have to play. Play relaxed. Have fun."

The Marlins were struggling through a lackluster and disappointing season, their first in a new ballpark near downtown Miami, when executives began breaking up the club.

Sanchez was surprised, but happy, when he was traded to Detroit along with infielder Omar Infante on July 23 for three Minor Leaguers. Sanchez felt he was given a new lease on life, playing for a team that was struggling under its own high expectations to repeat as American League Central champs.

"Beginning when I came here, I felt like it was really weird," Sanchez said during a media conference on Monday. "It was like my first time out of Miami, because it's my hometown."

Tale of the Tape: Game 3
Anibal Sanchez
Brett Anderson
2012 regular season
Overall: 12 GS, 4-6, 3.74 ERA, 15 BB, 57 K Overall: 6 GS, 4-2, 2.57 ERA, 7 BB, 25 K
Key stat: 2.43 ERA in six September starts for Detroit Key stat: Missed most of season recovering from Tommy John surgery
At Oakland Coliseum
2012: 0 GS, 0-0, 0.00 ERA
Career: 0 GS, 0-0, 0.00 ERA
2012: 2 GS, 2-0, 1.38 ERA
Career: 30 GS, 12-9, 3.55 ERA
Against this opponent
2012: 1 GS, 0-1, 7.94 ERA
Career: 1 GS, 0-1, 7.94 ERA
2012: 1 GS, 0-1, 11.57 ERA
Career:4 GS, 2-2, 3.78 ERA
Loves to face: Brandon Moss, 1-for-6
Hates to face: Seth Smith, 6-for-13, 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBIs
Loves to face: Jhonny Peralta, 0-for-6, 2 K
Hates to face: Miguel Cabrera, 3-for-7, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 3 BB
Game breakdown
Why he'll win: Has allowed one run in past 15 1/3 innings Why he'll win: Gave up just two earned runs in his first four 2012 starts (0.69 ERA)
Pitcher beware: Never pitched in a postseason atmosphere in seven-year career Pitcher beware: Tigers put up three runs in 2 1/3 even before straining right oblique on Sept. 19
Bottom line: Keep September's momentum, don't get overwhelmed by the moment Bottom line: Oblique injury can't linger against powerful Detroit lineup
Placed in the rotation, Sanchez made 12 starts, logging a 4-6 record and a 3.74 ERA, numbers that roughly matched his 19 starts with Miami. For the season, he finished 9-13 with a 3.94 ERA, and the Tigers caught the White Sox in first place with eight days to go in the regular season and won the division by three games.

He began his Detroit tenure with a win and three losses in his first four starts but has settled down since then.

"The first game, I think, he was getting his feet wet," manager Jim Leyland said about a 5-1 loss Sanchez endured at Toronto on July 28, five days after the trade. "He was unfamiliar with me, unfamiliar with his new teammates, unfamiliar with the league. But he's picked it up, and he's been pitching very, very well."

Sanchez feels blessed to be making a start for the Tigers in the postseason, knowing full well that he could have gone home this past Wednesday with the rest of the Marlins, who finished 69-93 and in last place in the National League East.

"I feel like this is a big step, but it's part of the business," Sanchez said. "One day you're on one team and the next day you're on another team. I'm thanking God for being here and representing the team right now. We need to keep working. We're doing great so far. Nine more wins and we'll be the world champions."

Sanchez, of course, has had personal success and has pitched under pressure before. On Sept. 6, 2006, at the old stadium north of Miami, Sanchez threw a no-hitter and defeated the D-backs, 2-0. A rookie at the time, he became the 19th first-year Major Leaguer since 1900 to twirl a no-hit game and the first in more than five years.

As a Tiger this past Sept. 15, Sanchez took a no-hitter into the seventh inning during a game both he and Detroit eventually won, 5-3, over the Indians. Carlos Santana tripled to break up the no-hit bid, and Sanchez left the game with two out in the seventh.

Those are the experiences he will take to the mound on Tuesday when he pitches for the first time in the Coliseum. He has made 145 starts in the Major Leagues, 133 of them for the Marlins, and believes he's more than ready. It's time.

"I just need to keep doing my job like I've been doing it my last few starts," he said with a laugh. "Like I told you, I don't feel any pressure at all. I feel great. I'm very excited. It's the chance of a lifetime."

Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter.

Detroit Tigers, Anibal Sanchez