Detroit Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez was not sharp to begin Sunday’s game, but after committing a balk which permitted Houston to score its third run of the first frame, Sanchez appeared to get back on track.
The right-hander, however, saw another one of his starts derailed late as he blew a four-run lead in the sixth. The Houston Astros took the lead with two more runs in the seventh and held on against a late Detroit rally, 10-8.
Sanchez allowed three runs in the first as he really looked unfocused. He committed a pickoff move to third base that major league baseball changed to a balk years ago, but after the Tigers responded with five runs in the bottom of the inning, they took the lead, 5-3.
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The Tigers right-hander also rebounded, retiring 14 of the next 16 Houston batters, and Detroit added two insurance runs to take a, 7-3, lead.
But in the sixth, Sanchez again ran into trouble.
Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis led off the inning and took the Tigers starter deep to bring Houston within three. Sanchez then struck out two of the next three batters, but after Astros shortstop Jonathan Villar singled to put two on with two outs, Houston manager A.J. Hinch called upon Preston Tucker to pinch hit.
And just as he did Thursday, Tucker went deep and tied the game.
Sanchez left after the home run. He finished with seven earned runs allowed on eight hits, stuck out 11, and walked two in 5 2/3 innings.
As bad as Sanchez’s final line was, the fact the Tigers offense had another nice game shouldn’t be lost in the shuffle. Six Detroit position players had two hits. Catcher Bryan Holaday led the team with three RBI, which he picked up on a three-run double in the first. Miguel Cabrera hit his 11th home run of the season as he extended his hitting streak to 12 games.
Detroit was also pretty good with runners in scoring position, going 5-for-11 in the game. But when it mattered most, the Tigers hitters did not come through.
After Miguel Cabrera hit a solo home run in the ninth to bring the Tigers within two runs, J.D. Martinez singled to bring the tying run to the plate with one out. Again, the Detroit hitters, though, didn’t come through.
Cespedes struck out and Nick Castellanos grounded out to end the game.
Despite the tough loss, Detroit still split the series with Houston, but after taking the first two games, Tigers fans were hoping to see the team take at least three of four.
The Tigers will begin a seven-game road trip in Oakland on Memorial Day.