Sanchez, Tigers shelled in Texas

At the best of times, the Texas Rangers are a tough matchup for the Detroit Tigers.

Remember the 2011 ALCS?

Saturday, the Tigers made it easy for them.

Two errors, a passed ball, a missed catch by Torii Hunter and an inability to keep the Rangers from stealing bases helped the Rangers post a comfortable, 7-2 victory in the third game of a four-game series.

The Tigers fell behind early and never threatened to get back in the game. They were shut out in the last six innings and went down meekly on 17 pitches in the final two innings.

“It was pretty sloppy,” Hunter told FOX Sports Detroit’s Ryan Field. “That was out of character for us, but that’s baseball.

“There are days when you feel like you’ve never played before, but we’ll get back at it tomorrow. It’s more mental than anything right now.”

For the second time in three days, the Rangers blew a Tigers starter off the mound in the third inning. This time, it was Anibal Sanchez, who allowed six runs — five earned — on nine hits and a pair of walks in 2 2/3 innings.

“I was not good with my command,” he said. “I was trying to get the ball in the zone, but my ball wasn’t moving too much and they were really aggressive.

“They were swinging early in the count, and it made for a bad outing.”

Drew Smyly and Phil Coke did their best to give the Tigers a chance — allowing one run in the final 5 1/3 innings — but the offense never got into gear.

“Smyly did a terrific job, obviously, and Cokie got himself into a jam and then got himself out of it,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “Our bullpen really saved us again tonight.

“We had to go to them earlier than we wanted to, and we’ve had a few of those games this week. We’re in a bit of a funk, but we’ll come out of it.”

Saturday was the first time Sanchez had given up more than three runs all season, so Leyland wasn’t assigning him too much of the blame.

“Sanchie obviously didn’t have a great night,” Leyland said. “He didn’t throw strikes, so he was behind all night and they got his pitch count up.

“But he’s been terrific for us all season, and he’ll get back to that pretty soon.”

Sanchez’s World Baseball Classic teammate, Elvis Andrus, had the first five-hit game of his career, stole two bases and scored three runs.

“I knew I had to change my plan against Anibal,” he said. “He’s my friend and my fellow Venezuelan, but he’s been throwing really good this year.

“I wanted to be really aggressive against him, and it felt good.”

The only good news?

Leyland said that Austin Jackson (hamstring) should be ready to return from the disabled list on May 27 — the first day he’s eligible.