The Detroit Tigers and Tampa Bay Rays entered game three of the four game series at a 1-1 split. Early on, it appeared as if the game would come down to the clubs two respective pitchers, Tigers Anibal Sanchez (5-3) and Rays starter Chris Archer (5-5), battling it out for the win on Saturday night.
Then came the fifth inning.
Going into the fourth Sanchez allowed two walks and no hits, but Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said an 11-pitch walk to Ryan Hanigan in the third inning began a slow downward spiral on Sanchez’s evening. He allowed seven runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings, with four walks and a strikeout.
The Rays broke the game open with three runs in the fifth inning and four in the sixth, and the Tigers never mounted much of a rally against Archer (5-5). The 25-year-old right-hander allowed solo homers to Alex Avila in the seventh and J.D. Martinez in the ninth.
Archer called it his best performance of the season. Joe Maddon finally pulled him with two on and one out in the ninth after 106 pitches. He allowed six hits, walked four and struck out four, falling just short of his third career complete game.
“There was 25 outs that I did get, and those are the ones that I’m going to focus on,” Archer said.
Maddon saw it as a growth moment for the young pitcher, one where Archer stayed with his strength against a powerful lineup and kept his team rolling through this winning road trip.
Logan Forsythe was responsible for breaking up the no-hitter with a long home run into the visitor’s bullpen in left-center field. That started a three-run inning that was followed by a four-run inning.
Kevin Kiermaier tripled in both innings and drove in a total of three runs. Forsythe drove in another run on the first-and-third bunt play.
Sanchez allowed all seven runs, snapping a streak of 32 games where he allowed no more than four earned runs in any one start.
A wild pitch and a sacrifice fly would close out Sanchez’s final line for the evening and the 2.63 ERA, which Sanchez held going into Saturday’s game became a 3.18 as he was handed the loss. The American League ERA champion last season, had gone 32 starts without allowing more than four earned runs.
“Early in the game I thought it was going to be a good game for him, he looked sharp, his pitch count was down,” Ausmus said. “It seemed to turn on the Hanigan at-bat, Hanigan fouled off a bunch of pitches and then it didn’t seem as if he was quite as sharp as he had been earlier in the game.”
The rest of the day belonged to Archer. He allowed two runs on six hits in 8 1/3 innings.