The Oakland Athletics touched Sanchez up for six runs in just 4.1 innigns of work before Jim Leyland had to turn to the bullpen. The A’s scored a single unearned run in the third inning when a two-out error by Miguel Cabrera allowed a Yoenis Cespedes ground ball get through the infield and score Coco Crisp from second base. Sanchez ended that inning with five total strikeouts and just the one run in – not too bad through three innings – but things were about to unravel for him.
The Tigers’ bats finally woke up in the bottom of the fourth inning with a rally of their own, ending what was a 20-inning scoreless drought going back to the first inning of game one. Singles by Torii Hunter and Prince Fielder put two runners on base ahead of Victor Martinez who doubled in the first run. Jhonny Peralta, who was making his first start of the postseason (in left field) followed with a two-run single to tie the score at 3-3. Omar Infante and Alex Avila grounded out to end the inning.
After being backed by his teammates, Sanchez seemed to pitch with a renewed fervor to begin the fifth inning. He got Jed Lowrie to go down on strikes to lead off, but that was the last out he’d get. Brandon Moss homered to give Oakland the lead back, and then a Cespedes single followed by a Seth Smith home run chased Sanchez from the game.
The Tigers would get a baserunner on in each of the final five innings, but failed to even push a runner into scoring position. They have now scored runs in only two of their 27 innings at the plate in this series.
It’s now up to Doug Fister, who’s scheduled to start Game 4 on Tuesday, to turn in a quality outing as the Tigers face elimination in this a five-game series. The Tigers could elect to pitch Max Scherzer on short rest instead (and have Justin Verlander available for a potential Game 5 on normal rest), but that’s probably not a likely option.