June 27, 2014

The Detroit Tigers' lineup didn't waste any time getting back on track, and they'll next try to lend some more support to Anibal Sanchez in the series finale against the Houston Astros.

The veteran right-hander will try to continue one of the best starts to his career by improving to 3-0 on Sunday.

Detroit batted .295 while scoring at least four runs in each of its first eight games - 49 total - until a 1-0 loss in Houston on Friday. The Tigers bounced back with 15 hits - three apiece from Miguel Cabrera and Nick Castellanos - in a 5-3 comeback victory Saturday.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia provided the go-ahead, two-run homer in the sixth inning as Detroit (7-3) improved to 5-1 on the road. He's getting the majority of action at catcher with James McCann on the disabled list for a sprained right ankle.

"He's come up with some big hits," manager Brad Ausmus said. "We knew he had some power and he's shown it to us early and I'm hoping he continues to do something similar to what he's been doing while (McCann) is on the DL."

The Tigers have given Sanchez a combined nine runs, allowing him to win his first two starts in a season for the first time. He hasn't won his first three decisions since beginning his career 4-0 in 2006 with the Florida Marlins.

Sanchez (2-0, 3.38 ERA) gave up two runs Tuesday against Pittsburgh but needed 107 pitches to get through 5 2-3 innings in an 8-2 victory. He missed a portion of spring training because of inflammation in his triceps and threw 89 pitches in five-plus innings in a 7-3 win in Miami on April 6.

"I feel really good," he told MLB's official website. "Late in the game, I felt more comfortable than earlier in the game. Like everyone knows, I'm working on my mechanics and that's put pressure on me earlier in the games. But after that I feel really good."

Sanchez is 4-1 with a 3.05 ERA in nine career starts against Houston (4-8) but gave up seven runs in 5 2-3 innings in his lone matchup last season, a 10-8 loss May 24.

He'll pitch opposite Mike Fiers (0-1, 6.55) in this game and the right-hander will try to bounce back from his first loss. He had a respectable showing with three runs allowed in six innings against Kansas City on Tuesday but didn't get enough support in a 3-2 loss.

Fiers gave up five runs in five innings in his season debut April 7, an 8-5 loss at the New York Yankees.

"Those three runs were too much for us tonight," he said. "I need to be two runs better and need to pick my team up, but I fell one run short."

Fiers has no record and a 1.64 ERA in his two starts against Detroit, both last season. He yielded two unearned runs in 5 1-3 innings in his only matchup in Houston, a 6-5 victory Aug. 16.

J.D. Martinez, batting .385, is 3 for 6 lifetime against Fiers while Ian Kinsler is 0 for 5 and Victor Martinez is 1 for 6.

Carlos Gomez is 4 for 6 in his career versus Sanchez, and Evan Gattis has three extra-base hits in his six at-bats. Colby Rasmus is 4 for 21 with 12 strikeouts, his most against any active pitcher, and Jason Castro is 2 for 14 with six strikeouts.

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