May 22, 2016

The slide most expected has seemed to arrive for the Philadelphia Phillies after a surprising start, and Aaron Nola took a step back, too, after his last outing.

At least he doesn't have any stamina issues like Anibal Sanchez.

The Detroit Tigers hope Sanchez can preserve the bullpen as they look to complete a three-game sweep of the visiting Phillies on Wednesday.

Philadelphia (25-21) has gotten off to one of the most unexpectedly solid starts in baseball after losing 99 games last season. Its job now is to remain consistent to prove that isn't a fluke.

The Phillies haven't been nearly as good lately, dropping four of five while scoring just 11 runs. In Tuesday's 3-1 loss, they finished with only five hits and got their only run on Tommy Joseph's sacrifice fly in the ninth.

Carlos Ruiz went hitless and is 0 for 14 over his last four.

Nola (3-3, 2.85 ERA) had been pitching extremely well before giving up five runs - two earned - and seven hits in seven innings of a 7-1 loss to Atlanta on Friday. He allowed a pair of two-run homers after giving up three home runs in his first 53 innings and hadn't surrendered one since April 16.

The right-hander had gone 3-0 with a 1.32 ERA over his previous five starts, all Philadelphia wins.

"Solo home runs are better (than two-run homers)," Nola said after the defense committed two errors behind him. "That kind of hurt me, those two, two-run home runs. I made some mistakes."

Nola has gone seven innings in seven of his nine starts, though, something the Tigers (23-22) wish Sanchez could boast. Sanchez (3-5, 6.23) has pitched fewer than six innings in six of his nine outings, including Friday when he allowed five runs in five innings of a 7-5 loss to Tampa Bay.

The right-hander has allowed at least four runs in each of his last four starts.

''If our starters can't go more than five innings, it is going to wreck our bullpen,'' manager Brad Ausmus said.

Slow starts have plagued Sanchez. Opponents have an .864 OPS in the second time through the batting order against him, and he allowed a homer on his second pitch against the Rays, who scored three in the first inning.

''I know everything is coming out good, and it isn't mental,'' Sanchez said. ''In the first inning, I give up a ground ball on the line and a ground-ball infield single and they get two runs. In the sixth, base hit, walk and runs. What can I do?''

Sanchez will be making his first start against the Phillies since 2012 as Detroit goes for a fifth straight victory. It won for the eighth time in nine tries Tuesday despite Ian Kinsler having to sit out because of flu-like symptoms.

Cameron Maybin, hitting in Kinsler's leadoff spot, had two hits and Miguel Cabrera drove in a pair of runs.

The Tigers also didn't have Justin Upton for a second straight game because of right quadriceps tightness, and Ausmus said he'll likely sit out this one as well with an off day coming up Thursday.

You May Like