Anibal Sanchez dominates, Yankees sleepwalk through loss to Tigers in Game 2 of ALCS

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Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez yielded just three hits over seven shutout innings and third baseman Miguel Cabrera went 2-for-4 with an RBI as the Tigers rolled to a far-too-easy 3-0 victory over the Yankees on Sunday evening in Game 2 of the ALCS.

Yankees fans might choose to pout about a blown call at second in the Tigers’ two-run eighth inning and an inconsistent strike zone throughout, but it’s the New York bats that deserve most of the blame.

Robinson Cano finished 0-for-4 and has now gone without a hit in 26 straight at-bats. That’s an all-time postseason record. Alex Rodriguez went 1-for-4 and struck out twice. Jayson Nix, the Yankees’ shortstop-by-default in the wake of Derek Jeter’s season-ending ankle fracture, wound up 0-for-3.

The Tigers will bring a 2-0 series lead back to Comerica Park with Justin Verlander going Tuesday night in Game 3. We’d be foolish to bury a team too early in a seven-game postseason series, but it’s not looking good right now for the Yanks. And staff ace CC Sabathia isn’t slated to take the mound until Game 4.

Victor Martinez played his final major league game on Saturday

Victor Martinez
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After 16 years in the majors, longtime Tigers DH Victor Martinez capped his career with one final start at Comerica Park. Although there are seven games remaining in the club’s regular season schedule, Martinez said he felt he owed it to the fans to record his final at-bat at home. He’ll still cheer the rest of the team on from the dugout when they hit the road for their last six-game stretch on Monday, though he’s not expected to slot into the lineup at any point during their back-to-back away series against the Twins and Brewers.

In order to commemorate the occasion, the Tigers arranged a pregame ceremony to celebrate the veteran infielder’s seven years with the team, during which they presented him with Topps baseball cards, a recliner, a pair of boots, and a saddle, among other honors. Martinez also put in a special request to play first base, a position he hadn’t manned in over two years.

The 39-year-old didn’t waste a single minute of his final start in the majors. He deftly handled an inning-ending out in the top of the first, then laced a rare infield single to short in his first and final at-bat of the afternoon, beating the throw to first and advancing Nicholas Castellanos to second base in order to set up the Tigers’ first run: a two-out RBI single from Niko Goodrum that brought Castellanos home to score.

“I think that at-bat was the perfect at-bat to describe my career,” Martinez told reporters after the Tigers wrapped a 5-4 win over the Royals. “I had to sweat it out. I had to sweat it out the whole way. I had to grind it. That was my whole career.”

Following the hit — and the standing ovation that greeted it — the switch-hitter was promptly replaced by pinch-runner Ronny Rodriguez, who subbed in at second base in the top of the second while Goodrum shifted from second to first base. Taking Saturday’s performance into account, Martinez polished off his big league career with a lifetime .295/.360/.455 batting line, 423 doubles, 246 home runs, 1,178 RBI, and 28.4 fWAR across 1,973 games and three separate stints for the Indians, Red Sox, and Tigers. His accomplishments at the plate have been decorated with five All-Star nominations, two Silver Slugger Awards, and the designated hitter-exclusive Edgar Martinez Award following a career-best campaign in 2014.