Anibal Sanchez kept the Minnesota Twins hitless through 8.1 innings on Friday night. And then Joe Mauer dumped a little bit of rain on the party.
Mauer broke up Sanchez’s no-hit bid with one down in the ninth, ripping a line shot directly over Sanchez’s head and into center field. Sanchez finished off his brilliant night by striking out Josh Willingham and Justin Morneau to complete a one-hit, 12-K victory. The Tigers’ 6-0 win was their fourth straight.
Miguel Cabrera drove home two more in the win, bumping his league-leading RBI total up to 57. Omar Infante accounted for two more runs, thanks to a bases-loaded walk in the second inning and an RBI single in the sixth. Don Kelly rounded out Detroit’s scoring by lifting a two-run homer just over the wall in right.
Tigers’ MVP: Sanchez. Pretty obvious one here. The Tigers’ starter nearly recorded his second career no-no — he fired one for the Marlins back in 2006. He might go to sleep tonight rethinking the pitch he made to Mauer, too, which came after he shook off catcher Alex Avila multiple times.
Nevertheless, it was a spectacular outing by Sanchez, one that dropped his ERA to 2.38 and improved his record to 5-4.
Tigers’ Goat: Avila. Tough to hang too much on the catcher when he nearly helps orchestrate a no-hitter. Avila continues to be absolutely lost at the plate, though. He turned in another 0-for-4 Friday, with three strikeouts, dropping his average to .168.
Checking the Standings: With Boston pulling away from Cleveland late Friday night, the Tigers will head into Saturday alone in first in the AL Central.
What’s Next: The Twins have lost 10 in a row and now get to deal with 5-1 Doug Fister on Saturday afternoon. Minnesota will trot out righty P.J. Walters for his 2013 debut; Walters started the year in AAA Rochester.