The Tigers are beginning to create some distance again in the American League Central standings.
Anibal Sanchez pitched efficiently in his first start back from the 15-day disabled list and Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder combined for a total of six RBI as Detroit topped Cleveland 9-4 on Saturday afternoon at Progressive Field. The Tigers are now up 3 1/2 games over the Indians in the hunt for the division title and can push that lead out to 5 1/2 games with a sweep of this four-game series (which will reach its conclusion on Monday night).
The Tigers have scored the second-most runs in the major leagues and their 3.75 staff ERA ranks ninth. Detroit’s +93 run differential is second in the bigs only to the Cardinals, who are currently +121.
Your Saturday box scores and recaps:
Orioles 4, Yankees 5
Twins 6, Blue Jays 0
Athletics 3, Royals 4
Marlins 4, Cardinals 5
Tigers 9, Indians 4
Pirates 1, Cubs 4
Padres 4, Nationals 5
Mariners 4, Reds 13
Mets 6, Brewers 7
Astros 9, Rangers 5
Braves 13, Phillies 4
Dodgers 2, Giants 4
White Sox 0, Rays 3
Red Sox 7, Angels 9 (11 innings)
Rockies 1, Diamondbacks 11
The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.
Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.
As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.