Brewers go deep off Sanchez, beat Tigers again
Detroit — Someone tell the Brewers they came into the week as one of baseball's poorer teams while the Tigers were among the big leagues' best.
A message might be delivered, as well, to Tigers starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez: A man of your presumed skill and status should not be socked on May 20 with a 5.60 ERA.
Not much in the way of conventional acts was on display Tuesday night at Comerica Park as the Brewers for a second consecutive night put it to the Tigers, this time by way of an 8-1 romp that already has given Milwaukee a rare series victory in 2015.
"They pitched us well the last couple of nights," said J.D. Martinez, who stepped in as Tigers cleanup hitter Tuesday, in place of the ailing Victor Martinez, and whose first-inning single drove home Detroit's lone run.
"They hit. We didn't."
Scoreboard numbers agreed: 13 hits for the Brewers, whose record soared to 15-25, while the Tigers, who are now 23-17, had a mere three hits, all singles.
Seven of the Brewers' 13 hits came in a 1 2/3-inning blitz against Sanchez, a former Tigers whiz who is having a profoundly confusing season.
Sanchez so unraveled in a six-run Brewers third inning that Milwaukee ripped three consecutive home runs against him, by Ryan Braun, Adam Lind, and Aramis Ramirez.
"I don't know how to respond," said Sanchez, whose record tumbled to 3-5. "I was really good last time out (Thursday's 13-1 victory over the Twins). I don't know what happened."
Neither did the Tigers. Sanchez peeled away the Brewers through two innings, minus a hit, all while throwing a cumulative 17 pitches. As he acknowledged after the game, in those early innings his fastball was particularly zesty.
But he got out of rhythm and probably away from his release point once a batter reached base in the third and Sanchez had to adjust.
"He (threw) out of the stretch and the ball kept creeping up in the zone," said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, who was tossed from the game in the fifth for challenging home-plate umpire Tripp Gibson's interpretation of balls and strikes.
"When Sanchie is out of the wind-up, he's at a pretty good position. But when you're out of the stretch you're also trying to control the running game."
Sanchez had no monopoly Tuesday on bad moments. There was competition from the Tigers lineup.
The Tigers now have lost three consecutive games in which they have scored, one, two, and one runs. And those things happen when you get three hits against a pitcher, Jimmy Nelson, who walked four Tigers batters in his eight astonishingly breezy innings Tuesday and scarcely paid a penalty.
Of course, Tuesday's tumble was no way to keep up with the first-place Royals. Nor was it of any hope or consolation to a team and a town that got word Tuesday its designated hitter, Victor Martinez, will be on the disabled list for at least the next two weeks.
Things didn't look at all dark early Tuesday. Sanchez whistled through his first two innings. And the Tigers took a fast 1-0 lead when J.D. Martinez, their new No. 4 hitter, blistered a single to left-center that scored Ian Kinsler, who had walked, stole second, and moved to third on an error by the catcher
But then came the third. And there went the baseballs.
Sanchez got the first batter before he and the Tigers were tomahawked: double, long flyout to left-center, bunt single for a RBI, walk, homer by Braun (off the right-field foul pole), homer by Lind (right-field seats), homer by Ramirez (left-field seats.)
In the time it took for that fusillade to storm Sanchez and the Tigers, Milwaukee had a 6-1 lead and was en route to the only series victory the Brewers have managed this season, apart from some dust-offs of the Cubs.
Ausmus might have been forgiven for dreaming about another venue Tuesday. And he soon had one: his office, after he was banished in the fifth by Gibson.
Kinsler had just been rung up by Gibson on a called third strike, on a low, inside pitch Kinsler believed with all his heart — and words, aimed at Gibson's face — was a ball.
He wheeled and let Gibson have it before walking away, at which point he turned again toward Gibson as Ausmus bounded from the dugout.
Ausmus had barely taken two steps when Gibson's thumb scraped the sky with a signal that Ausmus could relocate to his office.
"You can't argue balls and strikes," Ausmus said of his dismissal, which might or might not have been augmented by some select words steered at Gibson.
It was just as well, perhaps. There was nothing Ausmus could have done Tuesday but stand closer to the accident scene.
The Brewers got their seventh run in the fourth against Sanchez, which brought on Alex Wilson for another stint of spotless relief (1 1/3 innings, no hits, two strikeouts) by a right-hander who has become one of the bullpen's most reliable souls.
The Brewers got their final run in the ninth during Joba Chamberlain's less-than-sterling presentation that featured three hits, including a triple.
The Tigers have a chance to avoid a sweep Wednesday night when Shane Greene faces 36-year-old Brewers starter Kyle Lohse, who has a 5.85 ERA.
Make no assumptions, though, about pitchers and statistics and implied advantages. All other expectations this week have been turned unceremoniously on their ear.