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.

Blue Jays release John Axford

John Axford
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The Blue Jays have released right-handed reliever John Axford from his minor league contract, per an announcement on Saturday. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi speculates that the move could provide an avenue for the club to rework Axford’s contract, but the Blue Jays have yet to confirm or deny the report.

Axford, 35, was dealt a blow on Thursday after getting diagnosed with a stress reaction in the olecranon bone of his right elbow. Elbow soreness dogged the right-hander through much of his time in camp, and although he was scheduled for a follow-up examination later this spring, a definite return date had not been established.

Prior to the diagnosis, Axford was tabbed for a setup role with the team in 2019. He pitched to mixed results in 2018 (thanks in part to a late-season fracture of his right fibula) with a 5.27 ERA, 4.9 BB/9, and 9.8 SO/9 through 54 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays and Dodgers. Now, however, it’s not certain that he’ll return to the mound this season in any capacity.

Axford isn’t the only reliever the Blue Jays have lost to injury lately, either, as right-handers Ryan Tepera and Bud Norris have been sidelined with right elbow inflammation and forearm fatigue, respectively. Per Davidi, the Blue Jays offered Norris a $100,000 retention bonus to prevent him from opting out of the minor league contract he signed in February.