Lack of support sours Anibal's solid performance

Lack of support sours Anibal's solid performance

DETROIT -- Right-hander Anibal Sanchez has allowed four runs in 20 1/3 postseason innings. He owns a 1.77 ERA and has struck out 18 batters while issuing only six walks. Yet the 28-year-old has a 1-2 record to show for it.

Sanchez was the latest recipient of another tough-luck loss Saturday night in Game 3 of the World Series against the Giants. There's no doubt his seven innings of six-hit, two-run ball with eight strikeouts was deserving of a win, but with the Tigers' bats going silent once again, he didn't get it.

"He was competing his fanny off. He was absolutely tremendous," said manager Jim Leyland, not letting Sanchez's effort go unrecognized, despite a 2-0 loss at Comerica Park. "We got a tremendous pitching effort, but we've been shut out for 18 innings, so it's pretty hard to win the game."

World Series

Headed by Giants righty Ryan Vogelsong, the Tigers were blanked for the second straight game, becoming the first team since the Dodgers in 1966 to be shut out in back-to-back World Series games. As a result, Detroit is down 3-0 and on the brink of elimination.

"It's weird when you got two games shut out," said Sanchez, admittedly surprised at the lack of offensive production. "It's weird to happen, but it's part of baseball. We have to give them credit. They made a couple good plays. They did all series so far."

Offensively, that's all it took for the Giants. A couple of good plays -- all of which occurred in the second inning.

Sanchez walked right fielder Hunter Pence on four pitches to open the frame. Pence stole second, and Gregor Blanco, who came into the game with an impressive .571 (4-for-7) average vs. Sanchez, tripled off the wall in right-center field to drive in the game's first run. Two batters later, shortstop Brandon Crawford followed with a single. In the blink of an eye, the Tigers were in a two-run hole.

"His only hiccup was in the second inning," catcher Alex Avila said. "I thought maybe he just tried to overthrow a little bit. Then he just dialed it back in and kept it right there for us."

With an error by center fielder Austin Jackson, who let the ball skip past his glove, Crawford reached third with two outs. However, Sanchez forced Angel Pagan to ground out to first base.

Sanchez proceeded to set down 12 of the next 13 batters he faced and allowed only three hits over his next five innings. And only one of those baserunners would reach second.

"He did great, man," left fielder Quintin Berry said. "He's had a couple of games where we didn't really step up for him the way he deserved. I keep telling him if he keeps throwing the way he's been throwning, we'll win a World Series for sure. But things just aren't working out that way.

"He's throwing great and we couldn't ask for anything more from him."

Aside from Justin Verlander's blip in Game 1, the entire starting rotation continues to pitch great. It was Sanchez on Saturday, and Doug Fister who took a loss after firing six innings and yielding one run in Game 2.

Overall, the rotation has posted a 1.71 ERA through 12 playoff contests. Taking away Verlander in San Francisco and it's an even more impressive 1.20 ERA.

But unlike in the last two series, the run support has been absent.

"[Sanchez] gave us a great start tonight. Two runs? That's an outstanding start," right fielder Andy Dirks said. "We just can't get anything rolling offensively, but tomorrow, that's what we're looking forward to."

And so is Sanchez.

He's a free agent in offseason. With what he's done for Detroit to help win the American League Central and get to the World Series Sanchez's likely going get a nice raise. But he's not thinking about that. Not yet. He's still hoping for a chance to shine in Game 7.

"Nothing's over," he said. "I think everybody has to have their heads up. We can continue playing. We can put it [behind us] and continue to just play hard until the end."

Anthony Odoardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.