Burning questions after Sanchez's gem
MAY 25, 2013 12:03a ET
The first question was for Sanchez, who struck out a club-record 17 earlier this season. What meant more to him: The strikeout total nobody else in the franchise’s 113-year history has reached or this one-hit, 6-0 win against the Minnesota Twins?
“Getting the 17, yeah,” Sanchez said with no hesitation and a quick smile. “I never got there before.”
But he had a no-hitter as a rookie for the Florida Marlins, clamping down on the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sept. 6, 2006. Friday night was Sanchez's fifth complete game of one hit or less.
He fanned 17 Atlanta Braves four weeks ago to the day, posting a five-hit shutout against a hot-hitting team for a 10-0 victory.
The second question was for Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who watched Sanchez walk off the mound after eight innings with 114 pitches under his belt. It was a total Sanchez hadn't surpassed in his last four outings.
Did Leyland consider pulling Sanchez after eight, even though Sanchez threw only 74 pitches in his last start while getting roughed up in Texas?
“Had I gone out there and taken him out in the ninth," Leyland said, "they might be driving me out through the tunnel with paramedics giving me life support.”
It would have been highly unpopular with the 39,789 at Comerica Park, who were giving Sanchez standing ovations after innings and before the ninth.
There is, however, the matter of a pitcher who just signed a five-year deal for $80 million and his long-term well-being.
“If I’d called my owner (Mike Ilitch),” Leyland said, “I’m sure he’d have said, ‘Let him go out there.’”
Sanchez finished with a career-high 130 pitches, three walks, 12 strikeouts and the single. He threw 121 pitches in the 17-strikeout effort and required just 103 pitches in his no-hitter.
His previous high pitch count was 126, in seven innings of a combined shutout victory over the Washington Nationals in 2010.
“The remedy (going forward) is just to cut his pitch count down the next time and get him on a normal pace,” Leyland said. “I wasn’t about to take him out. That would be the wrong decision.
"It was a little more than I’d like Sanchey to throw, but you’d be a fool to take him out there.”
Sanchez couldn't come out after Mauer’s one-out single in the ninth because Leyland had told pitching coach Jeff Jones not to warm up anyone until a hit was recorded.
Phil Coke and Luke Putkonen got up after Mauer’s singled, but Sanchez retired Josh Willingham on a called strike three and Justin Morneau went down swinging before they could get warmed up.
Said Leyland, “I told Jonesey, 'Don’t get them up. Don’t change anything.’”
Pitch count became a topic, but being able to throw all his pitches in any count was more important.
That’s been Sanchez’s modus operandi all season, and he’s now 5-4 with a 2.38 ERA and a team-high 80 strikeouts — among the league leaders in both statistics.
“All of his pitches are out pitches,” catcher Alex Avila said.
That answered everything.
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