Tigers starter has allowed 18 home runs this season after allowing four overall in 2014
By Alejandro Zúñiga
DETROIT -- Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez continues to be plagued by home runs, and manager Brad Ausmus is blaming poor pitch location -- and a little bit of bad luck.
After allowing three blasts to White Sox hitters on Friday night, the right-hander has yielded 18 home runs this year, more than any other American League pitcher. Fortunately for Sanchez, Chicago's were all solo shots, leaving Detroit in position to claim a 5-4 win.
"The old adage is solo home runs never beat you, but it came close tonight," Ausmus said postgame on Friday.
Following a shutout of Cincinnati on June 15, Sanchez has allowed five home runs over his last two starts. That alone eclipses the four dingers hit off him in all of 2014.
Twenty-eight of the 55 runs Sanchez has yielded this year have come from the long ball.
"When he's giving up home runs, it's balls not located where he wants them," Ausmus said Saturday. "They're in the middle of the plate -- maybe slightly elevated -- and guys are hitting them. There's no secret to it. When he's locating them, he's fine.
"There's been a number of pitches this year that have been taken advantage of by the hitters."
Sanchez has generally been solid lately. In addition to his shutout of the Reds, he kept the Cubs off the scoreboard over 7 2/3 innings on June 9. Even when the Yankees tallied a pair of home runs against him last Sunday, the righty tossed seven frames in a win.
He lasted that long on Friday, too, but he didn't earn a decision as the Tigers rallied late.
"I guess he is suddenly giving up home runs, but he's not suddenly a different pitcher," Ausmus said. "It's just certain pitches that he isn't locating, they've hit home runs. You could go out there and throw the exact same pitches to the same hitters 10 times and they might pop them all up. There's a little bit of randomness to it. The point is, the location just has to be better, because the stuff is there."
Alejandro Zúñiga is an associate reporter for MLB.com.
Follow him on Twitter @ByAZuniga. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.