American League Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, July 28th (All times eastern)
Detroit Tigers (53-47) at Toronto Blue Jays (50-49), 1:07 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Detroit - Anibal Sanchez (5-7, 3.94) Toronto - Henderson Alvarez (6-7, 4.61)
(Sports Network) - Pummeled by Oakland in a 16-0 decision on Wednesday at home, the Toronto Blue Jays have responded by putting up back-to-back wins and are aiming for their sixth victory in the last eight outings this afternoon when they entertain the Detroit Tigers at Rogers Centre.
Toronto, which has scored more runs (496) than any other team in the American League heading into the weekend, delivered eight on just nine hits in a five-run victory over Detroit on Friday to kick off the three-game series.
Jeff Mathis drove in three of those runs with a bases-clearing double and Travis Snider plated a pair as he delivered his third home run of the season for a Toronto squad which is fourth in the American League East standings and just one game over .500 altogether.
Despite hitting just .217 on the season, even 45-year old Omar Vizquel got in on the action with his first extra base hits (a double and a triple) of the campaign, knocking in one run and scoring another.
Carlos Villanueva was credited with the win, his sixth in as many decisions this season, as he gave up two runs on four hits and a couple of walks. The right-hander lowered his season ERA to just 2.92 as he struck out three over five innings of action.
"(Bench coach Don) Wakamatsu said it best, I felt like a magician out there today," Villanueva said. "Pulling all the tricks out. I know some starts are going to be that way, probably more than I want to during the course of a season, but it worked. I'd rather have it that way than having to go to the bullpen a lot earlier. I'll take it as a positive and get ready for the next one."
Taking the loss was Rick Porcello who was charged with five runs on six hits and a couple of walks, fanning only one batter through six innings.
Offensively the Tigers managed eight hits, one fewer than they had strikeouts thanks to Jhonny Peralta who fanned three times in four at-bats. In an effort to keep Detroit in the mix, Miguel Cabrera notched his 25th home run of the season and Prince Fielder belted his 16th long ball but it wasn't enough as the Tigers suffered their second straight setback and the third in four tries.
Detroit, which is seventh in the AL with a respectable 3.98 team ERA, is now 1 1/2 games behind Chicago for first place in the AL Central.
Since breaking into the majors in 2006 with the Marlins, Anibal Sanchez has spent his career over in the National League, but he will now start life as an American League hurler as he deals against the Jays this afternoon.
The right-hander was 5-7 with Miami this season before being acquired by Detroit on Monday. A game under .500 for his career (44-45), Sanchez last pitched on Sunday at Pittsburgh where he allowed three runs on seven hits and struck out eight without walking a single batter through seven innings, yet he still was saddled with the loss.
Sanchez, who is 0-1 with a massive 16.20 ERA in his career against Toronto, has just two victories since the end of May.
As for the Jays, they too have penciled in a starter who is under .500 this season, opting to give the ball to Henderson Alvarez. However, in the case of Alvarez, he won his most recent outing last weekend versus Boston and has captured three victories in his last four decisions.
Against the Red Sox, the right-hander was tabbed for seven earned runs on eight hits, walked one and struck out two through 5 2/3 innings. As bad as that might sound, Alvarez still ended up with the victory in order to move to 6-7 on the campaign overall.
While the addition of Fielder to the Detroit lineup was supposed to bring more power to the lineup, the slugger has been slow to acclimate himself in new surroundings. Although, Fielder is hitting .311 over the course of 100 games, well ahead of his career average of .285.
Instead of Fielder, the one doing the majority of the damage on offense for the Tigers is Cabrera who is among the league leaders in home runs and RBI and has now connected on at least 25 homers in each of the last nine campaigns.
07/28 10:20:50 ET