Anibal Sanchez hit hard in first start with Tigers

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Anibal Sanchez stumbled in his Tigers’ debut this afternoon, giving up five runs over six-plus innings in a 5-1 loss to the Blue Jays.

Sanchez, who was acquired from the Marlins this week along with second baseman Omar Infante, allowed eight hits and three walks. This included a season-high three home runs. Edwin Encarnacion and Yunel Escobar both had solo shots while Colby Rasmus’ two-run blast in the bottom of the seventh chased Sanchez from the ballgame.

Sanchez’s season ERA jumped from 3.94 to 4.11 in the loss. The impending free agent has a 5.81 ERA over his last 10 starts dating back to the start of June. It will be interesting to see how he fares pitching in the more difficult league, but if healthy, his peripherals and track record both suggest that he should be a fine addition to the Tigers’ rotation down the stretch.

Henderson Alvarez limited the Tigers to five hits over seven innings of one-run ball en route to improving to an even 7-7 on the year. The Blue Jays have won three in a row to move within 3 1/2 games in the Wild Card race while the Tigers have dropped three straight to fall two games behind the White Sox in the American League Central.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.