Delay on balk call irks Tigers

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit — It wasn't the call that bothered the Tigers on Thursday. It was the way the call was made.

Anibal Sanchez allowed one Yankees hit, and the only run charged to him scored on a two-out balk in the sixth inning.

Jacoby Ellsbury was dancing down the line at third. Sanchez, aware Ellsbury has stolen home before, made a quick, awkward move with his feet and then threw home.

"I was watching Ellsbury carefully and he got a lot of room (down the line)," Sanchez said. "He got a couple of steps. I tried to do everything quickly but I moved my right foot back. It was something weird."

Initially, manager Brad Ausmus thought Sanchez had stepped off the mound with his right foot, which would have made the play legal. But when he looked at the replay, he saw that Sanchez had moved his left foot before stepping off with the right.

"They got it right," Ausmus said.

Ausmus, though, didn't have the benefit of replay when he came out to argue with crew chief and third base umpire Gerry Davis, who made the call. Ausmus didn't argue long but said some magic words and was ejected.

"He told me it was my run," Davis said through a pool reporter. "So I threw him out."

What the Tigers players didn't like was initially there was no call. Davis didn't make the call until on-deck hitter Chase Headley and third base coach Joe Espada began to argue.

"(Sanchez) started his delivery and then stepped off the rubber to throw home," Davis said. "I took a couple seconds to process what I saw. I wanted to be sure he had started his delivery before I made the call."

The Tigers, who later were aware Davis got it right, didn't buy the delay.

"The first time, I don't think he balked," first baseman Miguel Cabrera said. "But when you see it on replay in slow motion, you see he stepped back and threw to home plate. It was a balk. Well, you don't call it right away. You can wait 20 seconds after and then call it a balk?

"If you don't see it the first time, why are you going to call it? That was our point, but they got the call right."

Sanchez bounces back

It was a return to form for Sanchez. After being tagged for 14 runs and 17 hits in his two previous starts, he gave up one hit in 61/3 innings. He walked four and struck out eight.

"I just wanted to keep the ball down and stay ahead in the count," he said. "I don't want to be behind like I was the last outing. I think it was good today."

Sanchez corrected a flaw in his delivery. In the two previous starts he was standing too tall through the delivery. He was also getting too rotational in his motion. On Thursday he was back to driving directly toward the plate.

"He threw the ball great," catcher Alex Avila said. "For these conditions (33 degrees), normally he's a guy the cold weather can sometimes affect. But he threw it great. He had command of most of his pitches and he was putting them where he wanted.

"There were no limitations with any of his pitches."

Wilson called up

With the bullpen being taxed heavily the two previous games, the Tigers needed a fresh arm. Thus, right-hander Alex Wilson was summoned from Toledo and Ian Krol sent back.

It may not be a long-term move.

"We needed some arms that were pitch-able," Ausmus said. "If we didn't have the types of games we've had, we probably don't make the move."

Maybe Krol will be back in 10 days, but that doesn't lessen the opportunity for Wilson.

Acquired from Boston in the trade for Rick Porcello, Wilson has been lights out in Toledo.

After struggling all spring, he hasn't allowed a run in 51/3 innings. He has three saves.

"Unfortunately for me, my mechanics clicked as soon as I got sent down," Wilson said.

He said his arm path had gotten long, which has been corrected.

"It was really frustrating," he said of his spring training struggles. "I wanted to come in and make a good impression and I think I put more pressure on myself than I needed to."

He said it took him four innings of work in the minor league games in Lakeland to get back on track.

"As soon as it clicked, I was like, OK, I am back."

On deck: Indians

Series: Three games, today-Sunday, Comerica Park, Detroit

First pitch: 7:08 tonight, 1:08 p.m. Saturday-Sunday

TV/radio: Friday and Sunday on FSD, Saturday on FS1/97.1

Probables: Tonight — RHP Danny Salazar (1-0, 3.00) vs. RHP Shane Greene (3-0, 0.39). Saturday — RHP Trevor Bauer (2-0, 3.00) vs. RHP Alfredo Simon (3-0, 1.74). Sunday — RHP Carlos Carrasco (2-1, 2.38) vs. Kyle Lobstein (1-1, 3.27)

Scouting report

Salazar: The Tigers had the good fortune of missing Salazar in Cleveland. In his first start last week, he went six innings against the Twins, allowing two runs and striking out 10.

Greene: He has been a pleasant surprise. He's allowed one earned run and 12 hits in three starts, covering 23 innings. Whatever command issues he's dealt with before seem to have abated.