Anibal's struggles force Tigers to weigh options

Anibal's struggles force Tigers to weigh options

ANAHEIM -- The Tigers' rally from a seven-run deficit left Anibal Sanchez with a no-decision in the eventual 11-9 loss to the Angels. But after the right-hander's three home runs allowed in as many innings on Tuesday night, there's a decision looming.

"He's either in the starting rotation or not," manager Brad Ausmus said. "There's clearly two options. So that's basically where it stands."

It's a decision the Tigers have to discuss, Ausmus said. Simply put, it can't go on like this.

Sanchez continues to work on a solution to his struggles, continues to take the mound every five games thinking he has an answer to help him break through with a better outing. And every five games, something dooms him -- the third time through the order, the big inning early, the big inning late, the big home run.

Each time, he's left searching for answers. As he talked with reporters on Tuesday night, he sounded like he was running out of ideas where to start.

"I don't know what," Sanchez said, "but I have to do something to change everything. I don't know what's going on. Believe me, I come in here every single day to work, and I give my best effort every five days."

Angels hit four homers

Tuesday looked like Sanchez's best chance to keep the ball in the park and regain some confidence. The Angels entered the night ranked next to last in the American League in home runs and slugging percentage. The 7:05 p.m. PT start also gave him a chance to take advantage of the night air in Southern California, when the ball often doesn't carry as well as it does in day games.

Sanchez gave up six runs on eight hits over three innings. All six runs came on homers, three of them, moving him into the AL lead with 14 allowed this season. Only the Nationals' Max Scherzer, his former teammate in Detroit, has allowed more in the big leagues, with 15.

Since the start of last season, and Sanchez has allowed 43 home runs over 213 2/3 innings. And each successive ball that rattles around the outfield seats is arguably rattling him.

He admitted the here-we-go-again mindset after C.J. Cron hit his 1-2 pitch deep to left in the opening inning. He also admitted to feeling like every pitch left up is heading up and out.

"I don't think he's real confident on the mound right now, so we're going to have to make an adjustment with Sanchie," Ausmus said. "Something has to be done, because we need better starts than that. He knows we need better starts than that."

The Tigers cannot send him to the Minor Leagues without his permission. They can have him pitch out of the bullpen to work out his issues. But at this point, Ausmus said, no decision has been made.

Said Sanchez: "For myself, I want to trust me, too. I want to be competitive out there. Everything that I showed today was not competitive. The way that it happened today was crazy. And I've been doing it the whole season long."

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.