Anaheim, Calif. — Anibal Sanchez deserved better, which is getting to be an old refrain in the Tigers clubhouse.
Not always have Detroit's pitchers been prize-winners during an often-rough month of May. But the Tigers' more serious issue has been offense, which was on display again Friday in a 2-0 fold-up against the Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim.
Friday's whitewash ruined what had been a nice comeback for Sanchez, whose 2015 season has featured too many home runs and some uncharacteristic meltdowns.
But he was fine Friday: seven innings, six hits, two runs, two walks, and nine strikeouts, many of which came on a nasty "power change-up," as manager Brad Ausmus describes it.
"Today, everything was really good," said Sanchez, who was fixated on atoning for a bad start last weekend against the Astros. "My preparation was more spiritual than physical."
He perhaps reflected on mixing his fastballs (sinking two-seamer and four-seamer that often hit 95 mph) with a devilish, diving change-up.
His big mistake was a hanging slider Albert Pujols mashed for a home run to left field in the sixth, two innings after the Angels got their first run when Ian Kinsler dropped what might have been an inning-ending double-play grounder.
"Today, I just trusted myself," said Sanchez, who believed a few days of meditation brought clarity, as well as a strong bounceback outing Friday.
Jose Iglesias made another of his weekly — at least — plays from the land of make-believe in the Angels' half of the third.
With a man on second and one out, Taylor Featherston slapped a hard single in the hole between third and shortstop.
Iglesias sprinted on a hard, direct line to the ball as it approached the outfield grass. Still moving at full speed toward the third-base line, he gunned a reverse, one-hop throw to Miguel Cabrera at first for the put-out on Featherston.
It was yet another in a series of plays made by Iglesias that have stretched baseball's sense of the possible.
The Tigers were still uncertain Friday about Alfredo Simon and his status as Simon dealt with a family emergency in the Dominican Republic.
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said he was aware of reports that Simon's father had died but that Simon had not yet notified the club. Simon, a right-handed starter for the Tigers, flew hurriedly to the Dominican Republic following Tuesday night's game against the A's to be with his gravely ill father and his family.
Kyle Ryan, a left-hander who arrived Wednesday as Simon's replacement, will remain with the team until Simon returns, Ausmus said.
"All of that remains up in the air," Ausmus said. "He (Ryan) is lined up to start if we need him."
Simon remains on bereavement leave. He has not pitched since May 22.
Ian Kinsler can appreciate people wondering just what happened to a Tigers offense that early on was so devastating and lately has been a dud.
That's because Kinsler's flameout has been at the heart of a team's May miseries.
Kinsler busted out of an 0-for-22 nosedive Wednesday with a double. But it has been his only hit since May 21. His batting average has fallen from .318 on May 18 to .272, where it rested after Friday's game, during which Kinsler was 0-for-4.
"He's battling his tail off," Ausmus said. "He is a baseball gamer.
"He's gonna be fine. If we start worrying about Ian Kinsler, we've got problems."
Ausmus was still trying to squeeze from Hernan Perez the brand of at-bats a team insists he'll bring, at least eventually, to a big league game.
Perez started at third base as Nick Castellanos moved to designated hitter against Angels left-handed starter Hector Santiago.
"He's a much better hitter than he's shown," Ausmus has said of Perez, several times in recent days.
After he went 0-for-3 Friday, Perez's batting average is a ghastly .061. The Tigers have been caught with a 24-year-old infielder who is out of minor league options and who can't be returned to the minors unless he clears waivers.
Time, though, is clearly running short for Perez, and for a Tigers team stuck in a sustained spring slump.
Around the horn
Al Alburquerque's string of scoreless relief appearances sits at 12, spanning 13 innings. The 12-game stretch is the longest since Alburquerque had another dozen-game scoreless string in 2014.
... The Tigers continue with a stretch of 14 games against American League West teams. The run continues Tuesday at Comerica Park when the Tigers begin a three-game home series against the A's.