Home runs lead Anibal to tweak mechanics

Righty allowed more long balls over past two starts than all of last season

Home runs lead Anibal to tweak mechanics

DETROIT -- Anibal Sanchez will take the mound Thursday afternoon looking to keep the ball within the confines of Comerica Park after allowing five home runs over his previous two starts. The Tigers are hoping they found a mechanical tweak to help him do so.

Sanchez threw two bullpen sessions in four days between starts this week, working with pitching coach Jeff Jones on his lower-body delivery.

"My back leg was a little bit off and my front leg was a little bit straight," Sanchez said Wednesday. "It's just little things that happen during the season. The important thing is I am healthy and I think I am ready for [Thursday]."

Said manager Brad Ausmus: "I guess the best way to describe it was working everything toward home plate, as opposed to maybe a little bit laterally."

Sanchez gave up more home runs over his last two starts (five) than he did over 126 innings last season (four). Add in seven home runs allowed in Spring Training, nearly twice as many as he allowed in any other spring in his career, and the trend was becoming difficult to dispute.

Moreover, Sanchez's ground-ball-to-fly-ball ratio has essentially flipped, from 1.16 in 2013 to 1.08 last year to 0.60 so far this season.

Unlike last year, his issues haven't been from a lack of work, though his average fastball is down a mile per hour from last season, according to Fangraphs.

"Those bad innings hurt," Sanchez said. "But I just try to keep my mind strong and get ready for tomorrow. I know there is a long ways to go. It's early. I think we are at the right time to fix everything."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.