Published April 26, 2013
DETROIT – After an impressive start to the season, Paul Maholm finally had a game to forget.
Of course, even if Maholm had pitched well, the Atlanta Braves probably wouldn't have had much of a chance.
Detroit's Anibal Sanchez struck out 17 in eight marvelous innings, confounding the Braves in a dazzling performance Friday night and leading the Tigers to a 10-0 victory. Sanchez set a team record for strikeouts before being pulled before the ninth with 121 pitches.
"He was pretty good and we weren't," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "That does it boys. That's all I got for you."
That's about all there was to say from an Atlanta standpoint.
Maholm (3-2) allowed eight runs in 3 2-3 innings after giving up only three in his first four starts. Detroit's Matt Tuiasosopo homered and drove in a career-high five runs.
Sanchez (3-1) allowed five hits and one walk.
Comerica Park is no stranger to high strikeout totals — but not even Justin Verlander or Max Scherzer has had a game like this for the Tigers. Sanchez kept the Braves off balance all night, striking out at least two hitters in every inning except the fourth.
"I don't think too much about strikeouts and records and things like that," Sanchez said. "I prefer getting some zeros."
Several of his strikeouts came when he got Atlanta hitters to chase balls down around the dirt. He got Dan Uggla four times and Freddie Freeman and Juan Francisco three times each.
"He was really good. I don't even know if he missed a spot," Uggla said. "Everything was moving, cutting and sinking."
Victor Martinez and Torii Hunter had three hits each for the Tigers.
Tuiasosopo entered the game with 16 RBIs in a major league career that began with Seattle in 2008. He was a somewhat surprising addition to Detroit's roster out of spring training, but he's hit well in limited action with the Tigers.
After RBI singles by Hunter and Martinez in the third, Tuiasosopo hit a bases-loaded single to drive in two runs and make it 4-0.
Detroit scored six runs the following inning. Miguel Cabrera hit a run-scoring single, and another run came home on Prince Fielder's groundout. An RBI double by Martinez made it 7-0 and chased Maholm, and with two on, Tuiasosopo hit a drive over the left-field fence for his first homer since 2010.
"Obviously, I didn't pitch good," Maholm said. "You're going to have a couple of games like that in a season. But you move on."
With Detroit ahead 10-0, it was just a question of how many hitters Sanchez could strike out. He'd already fanned 14 at the start of the eighth, matching Yu Darvish of Texas for the highest single-game total in the majors this season.
Then he left that mark behind, fanning Francisco and Reed Johnson to start the inning. After Andrelton Simmons singled, Uggla struck out, and Sanchez's work was done.
"Really hard to pick up his off-speed pitches," Uggla said. "From the times I've faced him, he was a different guy tonight."
Since at least 1921, only Randy Johnson has struck out more than 17 while pitching eight innings or less. Johnson, who was then with Seattle, fanned 18 against Texas in a 1992 game, according to STATS.
NOTES: According to STATS, Sanchez now holds the record for most strikeouts in a regular-season interleague game. The previous mark was 16, set by Philadelphia's Curt Schilling in 1997 against the New York Yankees and Boston's Pedro Martinez in 1999 against Atlanta. ... Sanchez lowered his ERA to 1.34. Maholm's went up from 1.03 to 3.30. ... Cabrera extended his hitting to 10 games. ... Detroit's Rick Porcello (0-2) faces Atlanta's Kris Medlen (1-2) on Saturday.