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Loss of Anibal Sanchez Dooms Detroit Tigers Most in 5-3 Defeat Against Minnesota Twins

April 26th, 2014 at 11:03 PM
By Max DeMara

Sometimes, no matter what a team does on the field, it's just not destined to be their day to shine and get a win.

'Joe Mauer' photo (c) 2009, Keith Allison - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Saturday, After Anibal Sanchez departed Target Field with a reported blister following nine batters, it was clear the Detroit Tigers would be in that position. Though runs and pitching were plentiful on Friday night, neither would come easy in a 5-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins.

In the first inning Detroit picked up right where they left off the night before, scoring two runs, one via a Miguel Cabrera double, and the other thanks to Victor Martinez's sacrifice fly. With Sanchez on the mound, it looked as if Detroit would be in good shape. That was true for two innings.

Then, Sanchez began to feel the pain of an apparent blister, causing the bullpen to be needed. Jose Ortega, not ready for such an abrupt challenge, came on and held the fort albeit wobbly for two innings with a few walks, but got into significant trouble in the fifth. Ortega walked the bases loaded, allowing a fielder's choice in between, cutting Detroit's lead to 2-1.

After Phil Coke came in and was unable to throw strikes, the Twins tied the game thanks to Joe Mauer's walk, then collected two runs on a single from Trevor Plouffe, who would end up leaving the game as well.Though Coke managed to finish the inning, the damage had been done. The Tigers couldn't get their undermanned pitching staff any help offensively off Phil Hughes, who struck out six and steadied after the early trouble.

Detroit and Minnesota traded home runs in the eighth and ninth innings, with Josmil Pinto and Martinez each going yard, but the game had been decided thanks to a blister and a brief period of messiness after the fact.

Top Tiger: Torii Hunter. There must be something about coming back to Minnesota that pleases Hunter. He entered the series hitting below .300, but after Friday night's fireworks and another 3-4 day on Saturday with a run scored, Hunter is suddenly bopping, hitting .310. Perhaps this stretch will help him awaken for a Detroit offense which needs him to have a robust bat.

Bungling Bengal: The bullpen. Ortega, considering the circumstance, can't be faulted too much for his mistakes, but Coke's inability to be a veteran professional and pick him up was certainly frustrating. All told, the bullpen walked six batters, which isn't going to get it done in a tight game on the road. It was a failed effort for both Ortega and Coke, with the bigger frustration falling on Coke's performance.

The Turning Point: Joe Mauer walks in the fifth with the bases loaded, tying the game. After the walk tied the score, it looked clear there was no way the Tigers were going to get out of the inning and prevent Minnesota from breaking the game open a bit. The next hitter, they did just that with a measly single.

Stat Of The Game: 2, the highest number of hits the Tigers would collect in any inning Saturday. It only happened twice, once in the first inning and later in the eighth. After the night Detroit had on Friday piling up multiple hits in multiple innings, it figured things would even out, but that was a glaring number. Offensively, it wasn't good enough to help out the bullpen, which needed all the assistance they could get on this day.

What's Next: Detroit finishes up their three game Minnesota swing tomorrow afternoon at 2:10 when Kyle Gibson (3-1) will oppose Justin Verlander (3-1).

Max DeMara is a contributor for @Pistons_101 and @tigers_101. Follow each to connect with him there on Twitter.

Tags: Anibal Sanchez, Baseball, Detroit, Detroit Tigers, Joe Mauer, Jose Ortega, Miguel Cabrera, MLB, Phil Coke, Victor Martinez

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