Anibal Sanchez was sharp from the start — but to win this one the Detroit Tigers would need contributions from a couple more of their newest acquisitions.
Sanchez pitched effectively into the seventh inning, Omar Infante tripled and scored, and Jeff Baker drove in a run with a single to lead the Tigers to a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night.
Sanchez (2-3), acquired with Infante from Miami in a five-player deal last month, allowed one earned run and five hits in 6 2-3 innings. He struck out six and walked two, leaving with the tying run on third base.
"I just feel great when I can control my pitches," Sanchez said. "Today I feel more relaxed, I feel more comfortable on the mound and that's what the result was today."
It may have been his best outing with the Tigers. The right-hander allowed 12 runs in his previous two starts but stayed mostly out of trouble against Toronto.
"His stuff was really electric, probably as crisp as it's been since we got him," Detroit catcher Alex Avila said. "He looked great, using all his pitches. He had real good life on his fastball."
Detroit's bullpen closed it out, with Jose Valverde pitching the ninth for his 25th save in 29 chances, and 100th save as a Tiger.
Detroit trails the first-place Chicago White Sox by two games in the AL Central.
Aaron Laffey (3-5) allowed two earned runs and five hits in six-plus innings. He walked three and struck out two.
The Blue Jays have been held to three or fewer runs for six straight games.
Infante's triple in the fourth was Detroit's first hit of the game, and he came home on a wild pitch to make it 1-0.
Baker, acquired from the Chicago Cubs earlier this month, added an RBI single in the fifth, but the Blue Jays came back with an unearned run in the sixth. Rajai Davis walked, stole second and went to third on Sanchez's error on a pickoff throw. He eventually scored on Edwin Encarnacion's single.
But the Tigers didn't have a monopoly on poor defence. Toronto shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria's error allowed Austin Jackson to reach in the bottom of the inning. He was sacrificed to second and came in to score on Prince Fielder's single.
Davis' throw home from left field nearly had Jackson, but the ball scooted away from catcher Jeff Mathis as Jackson slid home.
"I thought Aaron threw the ball really well," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "We had an error in one inning and missed a bang-bang play at the plate, and that puts you on the short end of a 3-2 scoreline."
Hechavarria's sacrifice fly in the seventh made it 3-2, and Sanchez left the game after that. Brayan Villarreal got Davis to ground out to end that threat.
In the eighth, Detroit's Joaquin Benoit allowed a walk and a single, and an error put runners on second and third with two out. Yorvit Torrealba hit a flyball to centre for the third out.
Omar Vizquel had a pinch-hit single for the Blue Jays in the ninth, but the 45-year-old was thrown out trying to steal second to end the game.
"We're struggling to score runs, so we're trying to manufacture something with two outs," Farrell said. "Valverde has a slow release, so we were going to go after him even with medium-speed runners. We're trying to force Avila into making a perfect throw, and he did. You just tip your cap on that one."