Tigers setting records while preparing for playoffs

BY foxsports • September 28, 2013

For the Detroit Tigers, even though they have one game left in the regular season, it's all about getting ready for the playoffs.

But they had a couple of records to take care of in the process.

Anibal Sanchez, in his last start before the playoffs, threw five masterful innings, allowing two hits and striking out eight. (The Tigers went on to lose to the Marlins, 2-1, in 10 innings.)

The first strikeout came with the first batter Sanchez faced and was a record-setter.

It marked the 1,405th strikeout recorded by a Tigers' pitcher, breaking the record set by the Chicago Cubs staff in 2003.

The Tigers finished the game with 11 strikeouts, giving them 1,415.

"I don't really pay much attention to that kind of stuff," Tigers manager Jim Leyland told FOX Sports Detroit's John Keating on the post-game show. "I know they threw the ball out when we broke the record. I said you gotta keep throwing the ball out because we keep breaking it.

"Every time we get another strikeout, we're breaking the record. It's nice. It's nice for the pitching staff and (pitching coach) Jeff Jones. It's hard to believe it's gone this long, that's hard to believe."

After the record-setting strikeout, several of the Tigers pitchers were seen high-fiving in the dugout.

But not everyone was aware of the feat.

"Honestly I didn't even know about it 'til today," Drew Smyly told Keating. "Jonesy actually called down after Sanchez struck out the first guy and let us all know. We were like, wow, that's pretty impressive. It's fun to be a part of."

Smyly contributed 81 of the strikeouts. But he said it was easy to get strikeout fever watching the starters.

"You watch the starters mow them down, (Max) Scherzer, Sanchez, Ver (Justin Verlander), all of them, they're striking out tons of guys," Smyly said. "(Al) Alburquerque strikes out pretty much everybody he faces. (Joaquin) Benoit, the same.

"You just want to keep up. It's hard. You want to one-up the next guy 'cause everybody's done so well. That's what makes us a good team."

With the eight strikeouts, Sanchez reached 200 for the season. Scherzer led the team with 240 and Verlander had 207.

The Tigers are the first team since the 1969 Houston Astros to have three pitchers with 200 or more strikeouts.

Even more impressive was the fact that Sanchez finished the season with a 2.57 ERA, clinching the American League ERA title.

"Right now everything is over. I'm glad," Sanchez told Keating. "I'm so happy for the title I have, the ERA, but at the end, today's one of the process for get ready for the playoffs.

"It's not about numbers right now. It's more about how I feel, how I finish. That's what I like. I feel like I finished strong. Especially this team because we're gonna pitch for one more month."

Scherzer, who finished his season with 21 victories, enjoyed watching Sanchez get the ERA title and the team getting the strikeout record.

"It's special because we all each had a hand in it," Scherzer told Keating. "As a group, we did something pretty special. Anytime you start talking about major league history, you're doing something right.

"I'm just proud that it's a team record. That's what I like most is that everybody in this clubhouse together, the catchers, the pitching coach, Jonesy, everybody, we're all in it together, we all achieved it. So that's pretty cool."

"We really got everything accomplished that we wanted to get accomplished except getting a win," Leyland said. "We wanted to do that as well. A lot of things worked out good for us tonight. Sanchie, obviously.

"We got a couple pitchers in situations where we wanted to see exactly those kind of situations for them. We were able to do that. Played a lot of guys. We gotta start swinging the bats better, I will say that. We gotta do a little bit more with our hits."

NOTES: Leyland did confirm that Miguel Cabrera, who went 2-for-4 Saturday, would not be in Sunday's lineup.

"I'm really happy with what I'm seeing from him," Leyland said. "I think he's swinging the bat really good. I think he's starting to swing it good again."

Leyland said Brayan Pena would be the catcher Sunday.

Verlander will have another chance at that elusive first hit on Sunday in his last start of the season.

Verlander is 0-for-24 in his career, something that his teammates are kind enough to remind him.

"Hopefully that happens and hopefully he doesn't pull a rib cage getting it," Leyland said. "I look forward to watching him (Sunday). He's been pumped up about it. He wants the hit.

"I think he's the only starting pitcher we have that doesn't have one so that's been a nice little factor for the other guys. They can kind of tease him and kid him. But hopefully he'll get one (Sunday)."