DETROIT — Regardless of how the World Series turns out, Anibal Sanchez will be in an excellent situation.
Sanchez is just 28 years old and will be a free agent when the season ends, which could be as soon as Sunday night for the Detroit Tigers. They trail the San Francisco Giants 3-0 in the World Series after a 2-0 loss in Game 3 on Saturday.
The Tigers acquired Sanchez along with second baseman Omar Infante at the trade deadline, and neither has disappointed.
Sanchez came into the World Series with a 1-1 postseason record and a 1.35 ERA, which included seven shutout innings in New York against the Yankees.
On Saturday night, he was nearly as good, allowing two runs on six hits in seven innings of work. He threw 117 pitches, walking one and striking out eight .
Those two runs came in the second inning, when he walked leadoff hitter Hunter Pence, who stole second and scored on Gregor Blanco’s triple. Blanco scored on Brandon Crawford’s RBI single.
“I thought he was probably over-competing a little bit early and then he settled in and was absolutely terrific, and that’s why I let him finish that inning,” manager Jim Leyland said. “He was competing his fanny off. He was absolutely tremendous.
“We got tremendous pitching effort, but we’ve been shut out for 18 innings, so it’s pretty hard to win a game.”
Sanchez felt he had a little bit of an advantage in that he had already seen the Giants this season.
“I know that I prepare good, especially for this team,” Sanchez said. “I pitched twice (against the Giants) this year with the Marlins.
“Just one inning, I feel colder for the weather, but after that, I don’t think too much about it.”
Infante said that Sanchez has been exactly the pitcher the Tigers hoped they were acquiring — and then some.
“I think he pitched great,” Infante said. “His slider, his change up were good. He’s a good pitcher. He prepares a lot. He’s very intelligent.
“Starting pitchers, they have to be smart. That’s something he is.”
Sanchez made $8 million this season. It wouldn’t be surprising if he ended up with a nice, long-term contract in the offseason, making closer to $18 million a year with the way he performed down the stretch and in the postseason.
In his last 10 regular-season starts, Sanchez was 3-5 with a 3.59 ERA as the Tigers managed to win the Central Division for the second straight season.
“He’s a beast,” reliever Phil Coke said. “He’s going out there and he’s pitching on tough luck. He really is. He pitched phenomenal. He has no reason to hang his head.”
For right now, all Sanchez can do is watch and hope his teammates are able to extend the series.
“I do the best I can,” he said. “I move my ball. I tried to be ahead in the count.
“Just one inning, just one inning changed everything.”