Positive signs in Anibal's loss to the Athletics

Positive signs in Anibal's loss to the Athletics

DETROIT -- Save for a five-batter span in the second inning, Anibal Sanchez pitched fairly well for the Tigers in their 6-1 loss to the Athletics on Wednesday night at Comerica Park.

That sequence, though -- in which the right-hander yielded a double, and later consecutive walks and a three-run triple -- was enough to deal Sanchez (3-7, 5.69 ERA) his fourth loss in his last five decisions, a troubling streak for someone who was expected to contribute as a reliable member of Detroit's rotation.

Sanchez also allowed a solo home run to Josh Reddick in the third, though the starter recovered to complete seven innings, surrendering four runs on five hits. But it wasn't enough to prevent the Tigers from losing their sixth straight game.

"Sad situation is we continue to lose, and we need to do something different for a win, and I put in my whole effort today," Sanchez said. "I know it's something that I can do better than that, but at the end, that's what it is."

This season, much like Wednesday's game, has been a mixed bag for Sanchez. The right-hander already has allowed 13 home runs -- as many as he allowed over the last two seasons combined -- and has yielded five or more earned runs in five starts. But the long ball wasn't as much of an issue against Oakland, as Sanchez's two walks in the second were the catalyst for the decisive inning.

Still, the performance, which built on a seven-frame outing last Friday, was perhaps a small step in the right direction. Sanchez only struck out one and walked four, but he limited hard-hit balls. Even the extra-base hits in the second inning relied on some good fortune -- the double was a grounder that found a hole, while the triple landed just fair down the right-field line and took a tricky hop off the side wall.

"The bases-clearing [triple] was really the only big mistake," manager Brad Ausmus said of a first-pitch inside fastball to Billy Burns that stayed a touch high. "Other than that, he pitched well. You get seven innings out of him, he couldn't have done too bad of a job."

Sanchez rarely made it look easy. The seventh inning was his only clean frame, when the righty induced an Eric Sogard flyout followed by Burns and Ben Zobrist groundouts. His only strikeout came in the fifth, when the righty froze Stephen Vogt with a cutter on a 3-2 count.

"[Sanchez] lives down, and [if] you go chasing, you're just gonna be in trouble," Reddick said. "We know how he works; he throws a lot of offspeed, and throws hard, and when he does his fastball, he lives around the corners. You just gotta get his offspeed up and stay up in the zone, and if you do that, you're gonna have a good day against him."

Despite the back-to-back walks that proved costly, Sanchez said he was satisfied with his command. Ausmus called the start "decent," adding the righty has been "hot and cold" this season. But the manager also heaped praise on A's righty Sonny Gray, who was central in Detroit's offense being held to three runs or fewer for the eighth time in the last nine games.

"When you're losing the way we've been losing recently, everything that goes wrong seems to go wrong," Ausmus said. "When you pitch, you don't hit; when you hit, you don't pitch. ... You can't explain it sometimes."

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