By Dan Dickerson
On a memorable, history-making night at Comerica Park, Anibal Sanchez struck out a franchise-record 17 batters, and the Detroit Tigers pounded the Atlanta Braves in the opener of a three game weekend series, 10-0.
Sanchez was sharp right from the start: he struck out seven batters through three innings, had ten through five innings – and then finished with a flourish, striking out two in the 6th, two in the 7th and struck out the side in the 8th. Everything was working – a live fastball up to 95MPH, as well as a sharp slider and changeup that had Braves hitters lunging time and time again at pitches in the dirt.
Braves starter Paul Maholm brought a 3-1 record into the game with a 1.03ERA through four starts, but the Tigers knocked him out of the game early. The Tigers scored four runs in the 3rd inning – a Matt Tuiasosopo bases-loaded single capped the four run rally…and then the Tigers knocked Maholm out with a six run 4th inning – capped by a Tuiasosopo three-run home run, his first as a Tiger.
But the story was Sanchez, whose previous best in strikeouts was 14, set last year when he was still a Miami Marlin. Fourteen of his 17 strikeouts were on swinging third strikes – the history-making strikeout came when he struck Dan Uggla out on a 2-2 pitch to end the 8th. Strikeouts have ben a big part of this 2013 season – for the Tigers, and throughout baseball. The Tigers shattered their franchise record for strikeouts in a season by more than 200 last year, and are on a pace to shatter it again this year.
The Tigers have had games with 16, 17, 18 and 19 strikeouts – all in the last 12 games.
The win bumped the Tigers back over the .500 mark at 11-10. The loss drops the Braves to 15-7. Rick Porcello is matched up against Kris Medlen in game two of the series Saturday afternoon.