Tigers pitcher Anibal Sanchez works in the sixth inning Saturday night in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series. (Robin Buckson / Detroit News)
Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez picked up where Justin Verlander left off.
Sanchez opened the American League Championship Series against the Red Sox on the mound and tossed six innings of no-hit ball against the highest-scoring team in the Major Leagues this season.
Sanchez left the game after the sixth with 12 strikeouts and six walks — on 116 pitches. Tigers manager Jim Leyland didn’t push Sanchez any further, going to the bullpen. Al Alburquerque had two strikeouts in the seventh and Jose Veras and Drew Smyly combined to blank the Boston hitters in the eighth.
The Tigers finished the Red Sox, 1-0, on Saturday night at Fenway Park and are three wins from returning to the World Series.
There never has been a combined no-hitter in postseason play and Leyland looked to closer Joaquin Benoit to finish the historic feat, but Benoit gave up a one-out single to Daniel Nava in the ninth. Stephen Drew ended the game with a pop out and the Tigers staff settled for a one-hit shutout.
Sanchez, who led the American League with the lowest earned-run average this season, had a subpar last outing in Game 3 of the ALDS against the A’s but bounced back with a strong performance against the Red Sox.
The five Tigers pitchers combined for 17 strikeouts.