It wasn’t a perfect game, a no-hitter, or even a complete game shutout, but Anibal Sanchez turned in what may very well prove to be the Detroit Tigers’ best pitching performance of the season on Friday night in the team’s 10-0 win over the Atlanta Braves.
Sanchez allowed five hits and one walk in his eight scoreless inning, but the real story was his strikeout total. Specifially the fact that there were 17 of them — the most in the major leagues so far this year, and the most from a Detroit Tigers pitcher ever.
Sanchez had the Atlanta Braves hitters off-balance all game, and many of the swing-and-misses were as ugly as you’ll ever see. He struck out every Atlanta starter at least once, and sent Dan Uggla down on strikes in each of the four times he came to the plate. In fact, the combination of Uggla, Freddie Freeman, and Juan Francisco combined to go 0-10 with 10 strikeouts in this game (Freeman also struck out one more time in the ninth inning against Bruce Rondon).
Here’s an MLB.com video with both the Dan Dickerson and Mario Impemba calls of Sanchez’s final three strikeouts.
Anibal signed a sizable five year, $80 million deal this offseason, and he’s held up his part of the deal in the (very) early going of the year. Through five starts, Sanchez has a 1.34 ERA in 33.2 total innings. He has (what would be) a career high 10.96 K/9 strikeout rate, his walk rate is below his career line, and he’s yet to allow a home run.
It’s way early, but Sanchez has been really, really good.