Anibal allows 2 more HRs; rotation future uncertain

Anibal allows 2 more HRs; rotation future uncertain

DETROIT -- The question regarding Anibal Sanchez entering Saturday was if could he do enough to stay in the Tigers' rotation after a month-long stint in the bullpen.

The answer coming out was unclear.

Sanchez allowed four earned runs over five innings in a 6-0 loss to the Indians, including two solo home runs to two of the first three batters of the game.

When asked about Sanchez's future in the rotation, manager Brad Ausmus said afterward, "That's not something I'll discuss now."

When Sanchez was asked if he did enough to stay in the rotation, he said, "I don't know. It's not my call."

There were positives and negatives. One positive was that he retired the final eight batters he faced. Sanchez finished at 87 pitches, as Ausmus noted he hadn't thrown that many in a month.

"He did a decent job out there," Ausmus said of Sanchez's finish. "I was encouraged, yeah."

The negatives included giving up more home runs -- now 16 in his 12 starts this year after allowing an American League-leading 29 a year ago. Both on Saturday were on offspeed pitches.

"In the first inning, I tried to pitch backward," Sanchez said. "As soon as I saw they were waiting on the offspeed pitch, after the second inning, I tried to be aggressive with my fastball, in and out."

In the second, he allowed a two-out double and then a single, which pushed Cleveland's lead to 3-0. In the third, Sanchez loaded the bases with one out after two walks sandwiched around a single and a flyout. A forceout at second on a ground ball and a lineout to center ended the threat with one run of damage, and it began the stretch of eight straight retired to end the righty's day.

"It was pretty much the same stuff," Ausmus said. "Obviously the home runs early, you never want to see, but he did a good job of settling down, worked out of some trouble. He gave us five innings, which is important, because the bullpen's a little taxed still."

Mike Pelfrey will start Tuesday against the Marlins, while Daniel Norris will start Wednesday. Where Sanchez goes next isn't clear yet, but he's not going to fret over it.

"It's not frustrating," he said. "There's nothing I'm going to lose right now. I'm focused. I was in the bullpen, I'm in the rotation right now, and I'm going to continue to work. There are a lot of games before the season's over. We've got a great team and we'll continue working."

Chris Vannini is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Tigers on Saturday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.