Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 5/25/13
DETROIT There were two questions that had to be asked Friday night after Detroit Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez lost his no-hitter with one out in the ninth inning. The first question was for Sanchez, who struck out a club-record 17 earlier this season. What meant more to him: the strikeout total nobody else in the franchises 113-year history has reached or this one-hit, 6-0 win against the Minnesota Twins? Getting the 17, yeah, Sanchez said no hesitation and a quick smile. I never got there before. But he had a no-hitter as a rookie for the Florida Marlins, clamping down on the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sept. 6, 2006. And it was his fifth complete game of one hit or less. Sanchez fanned 17 Atlanta Braves four weeks ago to the day, posting a five-hit shutout against a hot-hitting team for a 10-0 victory. The second question was for Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who watched Sanchez walk off the mound after eight innings with 114 pitches under his belt. It was a total Sanchez hadn't surpassed in his last four outings. So did Leyland consider pulling him after eight, even though Sanchez threw only 74 pitches in his last start while getting roughed up in Texas? Had I gone out there and taken him out in the ninth," Leyland said, "they might be driving me out through the tunnel with paramedics giving me life support. It would have been highly unpopular with the 39,789 at Comerica Park, who were giving Sanchez standing ovations after innings and before the ninth. There is, however, the matter of a pitcher who just signed a five-year deal for 80 million and his long-term well-being. If Id called my owner (Mike Ilitch), Leyland said, Im sure hed have said, Let him go out there. Sanchez finished with a career-high 130 pitches, three walks, 12 strikeouts and the single. He threw 121 pitches in the 17-strikeout effort and required just 103 pitches in his no-hitter. His previous high pitch count was 126, in seven innings of a combined shutout victory over the Washington Nationals in 2010. The remedy (going forward) is just to cut his pitch count down the next time and get him on a normal pace, Leyland said. I wasnt about to take him out. That would be the wrong decision. "It was a little more than Id like Sanchey to throw, but youd be a fool to take him out there. Sanchez couldn't come out after Joe Mauers one-out single in the ninth because Leyland had told his pitching coach, Jeff Jones, not to warm up anyone until a hit was recorded. Phil Coke and Luke Putkonen got up after Mauers singled, but Sanchez got Josh Willingham on a called strike three and Justin Morneau went down swinging before they could get warmed up. Said Leyland, I told Jonesey, 'Dont get them up; dont change anything. Pitch count became a topic, but being able to throw all his pitches in any count was more important. Thats been Sanchezs modus operandi all season, and hes now 5-4 with a 2.38 ERA and a team-high 80 strikeouts -- among the league leaders in both statistics. All of his pitches are out pitches, catcher Alex Avila said. That answered everything.
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