Anibal Sanchez had himself a ballgame

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With all due respect to Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann, the author of a one-hit shutout against the Cincinnati Reds, Anibal Sanchez was tonight’s best pitcher. The right-hander, who signed a five-year, $80 million contract with the Tigers back in December, shut out the Braves with a franchise record 17 strikeouts over eight innings.

The Braves entered the night with the fifth-best offense in the National League averaging 4.6 runs per game with a league-best 35 home runs, but Sanchez kept the Braves’ bats silent with masterful pitching from start to finish, allowing only five hits and one walk. It also didn’t hurt that the Tigers spotted him a ten-run cushion with a four-run third and six-run fourth.

Sanchez tied Mickey Lolich’s Tigers club record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game (16) when he got Reed Johnson to strike out swinging for the second out in the eighth.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland opted to use Bruce Rondon in the ninth rather than allow Sanchez to finish his masterpiece. However, Sanchez was 121 pitches, so it is justifiable.

The last pitcher to strike out 17 or more batters was Brandon Morrow, who tossed a one-hit shut-out with 17 punch-outs against the Tampa Bay Rays on August 8, 2010. Others to do it in the 2000’s include Johan Santana (2007), Ben Sheets (2004), Randy Johnson (twice in 2002, once in 2001), Curt Schilling (2002), and Pedro Martinez (2000).

It sounds like Adrián Beltré is mulling retirement

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Rangers third baseman Adrián Beltré is dealing with a Grade 2 strain of his left hamstring, marking the third time this season the 39-year-old has dealt with a hamstring issue. The injuries are weighing on Beltré, who sounds like he is mulling retirement.

Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reports that Beltré said, “It brings the question of is this going to keep happening more often? Is it worth it to fight back? Is it a sign that it’s getting closer to time to say good-bye to you guys?”

In 358 plate appearances this season, Beltré has hit .278/.335/.394 with seven home runs and 41 RBI. His .729 OPS would be his lowest since 2009, when he put up a .683 OPS with the Mariners. Beltré is a free agent after the season and turns 40 years old in April. It wouldn’t be surprising if he decided to call it quits after this season. If he does hang ’em up, Beltré will be — in this writer’s humble opinion — a first-ballot Hall of Famer when he is eligible five years from retirement.