Anibal Sanchez retired the final batter on a weak grounder, and Tigers players started celebrating around the mound.
Moments later on the home crowd roared a little louder when the American League Central standings were posted on the scoreboard in left field – with the Tigers back in a tie for first.
”We control our own destiny. We’ve just got to continue to play good baseball,” catcher Gerald Laird asserted. ”We do not need to rely on anybody to beat anybody now. It’s all on our shoulders.”
Sanchez threw his 1st shutout in more than a year, and the Detroit Tigers caught the White Sox atop the division with a 2-0 victory over the KC Royals on Tuesday night. Detroit spent only one day in first since the start of Aug. The Tigers were tied with the White Sox after beating them Sept. 2 – but quickly fell back.
Now it’s even again with 8 games to play. Even in this season of expanded playoffs, Detroit and Chicago are in an old-fashioned division race with seemingly everything at stake – because a lucky card isn’t a likely option.
The Chicago White Sox lost 4-3 to Cleveland Indians earlier in the day, and then Sanchez (4-6) took the mound and retired the first 11 hitters he faced.
The Tigers trailed the White Sox by 3 games on the morning of Sept. 19, but they’ve made up the ground and will have a chance to win a 2nd straight division title if they can finish strongly enough.
”Nothing is over, nothing is in,” Sanchez related. ”We’re right there.”
Sanchez allowed only 3 hits. He struck out 10 and walked one. Sanchez threw 105 pitches in his 1st shutout since Sept. 10, 2011, when he tossed a one-hitter for Florida at Pittsburgh.
Bruce Chen (11-13) gave up RBI singles by Prince Fielder and Delmon Young in the 1st inning.
Sanchez pounded the strike zone early in his best start since coming over to Detroit from Miami in a July trade. Only one Royals player hit the ball out of the infield till Alex Gordon and Billy Butler split up the ideal game bid with consecutive singles in the 4th for Kansas City. Sanchez got out of that jam when Salvador Perez’s line drive was snagged by 3rd baseman Miguel Cabrera.
The Tigers hit 6 singles in the 1st 2 innings, but Chen was able to limit the damage by getting out of a bases-loaded, nobody-out situation in the second. Omar Infante hit a shallow fly, and Cabrera and Fielder both struck out.
Detroit Tigers didn’t actually threaten again until the 7th, when reliever Louis Coleman struck out Young with the bases loaded for the 3rd out. Baseball lines
Chen allowed 2 runs and 10 hits in 6 2-3 innings.
Sanchez now has 6 quality starts in his last 7 outings. In the 3rd, he stopped Eric Hosmer’s comebacker with his bare hand, picked up the ball and threw it hard over to Fielder at 1st for the out. He made another hard throw to first on Jarrod Dyson’s 1-3 groundout in the 8th.