May 2, 2013 | Vol. 94, No. 103

Sanchez struggles early, Tigers lose to Twins

DETROIT (AP) — Anibal Sanchez struck out the first two hitters he faced — then the trouble began.

Associated Press
Minnesota Twins’ Justin Morneau scores as Detroit Tigers catcher Brayan Pena misplays the throw from left fielder Matt Tuiasosopo during the first inning in Detroit Wednesday. Morneau scored from second on an RBI single by Chris Parmelee.

A walk. A double. Then another walk and a single.

Suddenly, the Detroit right-hander was struggling to get out of the first inning.

Sanchez settled down eventually, but this was nothing like his 17-strikeout performance last week against Atlanta. Instead, he gave up three runs in six innings, and the Tigers lost to the Minnesota Twins 6-2 on Wednesday.

“I think Sanchy was just too excited at the start,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “He was throwing too hard, and it hurt his command. He got it back, because he’s an excellent pitcher.”

But Detroit could never take the lead. Scott Diamond pitched six solid innings, and the Twins snapped Detroit’s five-game winning streak.

Sanchez fanned five in the first two innings, but Minnesota scored two runs in the first and another in the second. Diamond (2-2) didn’t allow a hit until Jhonny Peralta’s single in the fifth.

The Tigers fought back after trailing 3-0, but reliever Bruce Rondon allowed two more runs in the seventh to make it 5-2. Chris Parmelee hit a solo homer in the eighth.

Detroit sent Rondon back to the minors after the game.

Diamond allowed two runs and four hits and was pulled after 88 pitches.

“Diamond was really good. He was moving the ball from side to side and keeping us off balance,” Detroit’s Torii Hunter said. “I thought Anibal was really good, and he probably deserved a win today, but the offense wasn’t there.”

Closer Glen Perkins pitched the ninth for Minnesota in a non-save situation. He allowed singles by Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder with nobody out, but Victor Martinez hit into a double play, helping Perkins out of the jam.

Sanchez allowed five hits, struck out nine and walked two. Reliever Jose Ortega struck out two in the ninth, giving the Detroit staff 11 strikeouts for the game. It was the sixth consecutive game for the Tigers with at least 10 strikeouts — the longest streak by an American League team since at least 1921.

Sanchez struck out the first two batters of the game, but his command was poor early on. He walked Josh Willingham and allowed an RBI double by Justin Morneau. After a walk by Ryan Doumit, Parmelee hit a single to left. Morneau tried to score from second, and although Matt Tuiasosopo’s throw home was a good one, catcher Brayan Pena couldn’t hold onto the ball while trying to make a quick tag.

Sanchez threw 41 pitches in the first inning. Minnesota struck out three times in the second but took a 3-0 lead on Jamey Carroll’s RBI double. Sanchez only pitched eight innings in the game against the Braves, so after two innings Wednesday, he had 22 strikeouts in his last 10.

Sanchez’s control came around eventually, and he retired his last 11 hitters.

But Diamond didn’t give up the lead. A line drive by Tuiasosopo in the second hit him in the right leg, but the left-hander recovered in time to make the play.

Diamond missed the start of the season after elbow surgery in December, but he’s gone at least six innings in three of his four starts. Hunter hit an RBI single in the sixth to get Detroit on the scoreboard, and Cabrera followed with an RBI double, but Diamond retired Fielder and Martinez on groundouts to end the inning.

“I felt like I had a lot better stuff today,” Diamond said. “Today was a big step in the progression toward getting back.”

Aaron Hicks led off the seventh for the Twins with a triple to the right-field corner off a 101-mph fastball from Rondon. With the infield in, Pedro Florimon slapped a single up the middle to put Minnesota up 4-2.

Rondon walked two hitters to load the bases before being taken out. Darin Downs allowed an RBI single by Morneau before getting Doumit to ground into a double play to end the threat.

Parmelee’s homer made it 6-2 the following inning.

NOTES: Sanchez threw 115 pitches.

Since 1974, the most strikeouts for a pitcher over the course of 10 consecutive innings is 23, according to STATS. ... Hicks was 8 for 73 (.110) on the season before tripling off Rondon. ... Detroit travels to Houston for a four-game series. Rick Porcello (1-2) is expected to start Thursday night for the Tigers. Minnesota has Thursday off.