Anibal Sanchez is at his best when he’s aggressive, which usually works out for him against the Kansas City Royals.
In his last start against the Tampa Bay Rays, Sanchez gave up a season-high seven earned runs.
After the game, both Sanchez and catcher Alex Avila said part of the problem was Sanchez failed to finish off hitters when he got ahead of them.
Determined not to have that happen again, Sanchez focused on being more aggressive.
The plan worked to perfection in a 2-1 win Friday night in Kansas City.
"I just tried to come (Friday) and throw everything for a strike, even if I got 0-2, just go right at them because I don’t want to get like my last outing," Sanchez told FOX Sports Detroit’s John Keating on the post-game show. "I threw a lot of hitters 0-2 and I take like 3-4 pitch to get an out. (Friday) I just tried to go out right at them, throw strikes, try to be ahead in the count. Every pitch for a strike."
Sanchez (6-3, 3.04 ERA) allowed just one run on eight hits while striking out three in seven innings. He did not walk a batter and finished with just 90 pitches, 62 for strikes.
"I loved the fact that he was on the attack," FOX Sports Detroit analyst Craig Monroe said. "He pitched ahead in the count all night long and that’s when Sanchez truly is at his best. He is a master at changing speeds. We know what he has — good fastball at 94-95 miles per hour, then he locates on both sides of the plate.
"But (Friday night) I thought it was the mix of his pitches. He would throw hard with a good fastball on the inside. He would slow them down with a good change up. He continued to pitch ahead and expanded the strike zone. That’s when Sanchez is at his best. (Friday night) he was definitely at his best."
Sanchez is seemingly always at his best against the Royals.
In seven career starts against the Royals, he has a 1.07 ERA, having allowed one run or less in every start.
"They got pretty good hitters," Sanchez said. "That’s what I take care, try to keep the faster hitters off base because I don’t want any rally and I throw a lot of breaking balls early in the count and if they swing, that takes me for really quick innings."
Suarez also got a little help from his friends.
Third baseman Nick Castellanos leaped to snag a hit away from Jarrod Dyson, then managed to double up former Tiger Omar Infante at second base.
In the seventh, the Royals had Mike Moustakas at third with just one out when Dyson came up again. He hit a sharp ground ball that shortstop Eugenio Suarez snagged with a sweep of his glove.
"Amazing, amazing," Sanchez said. "If he don’t stop that ball, probably the game was tied or I don’t know what happened after that. For me, that’s the play of the game."
Suarez got the play of the game but Sanchez was definitely the player of the game, out-dueling Danny Duffy.
The Tigers (52-37) are now 6 1/2 games ahead of the Royals (47-45) in the Central Division.
The two teams face off again in the third game of the four-game series Saturday night.
In order not to interfere with FOX’s exclusive national window, FOX Sports Detroit will either join the game in progress at 10 p.m. or will begin the replay of the game at that time.
If the game is joined in progress, FOX Sports Detroit will televise the end live, then will show the game in its entirety at the conclusion.