DETROIT (AP) — Anibal Sanchez approached the dugout with the crowd at Comerica Park roaring its approval, then he took off his hat to acknowledge the fans.
Aware of his pitch count, he realized his night was probably done — but what an evening it was.
Sanchez struck out 17 in eight marvelous innings for Detroit, confounding the Atlanta Braves in a dazzling performance Friday night and leading the Tigers to a 10-0 victory. Sanchez broke Mickey Lolich's team record of 16 strikeouts when he fanned three in the eighth inning.
"It's hard to get much better than that," manager Jim Leyland said.
Sanchez threw 121 pitches in those eight innings, so there would be no return for the ninth to try to match Roger Clemens and Kerry Wood with 20 strikeouts. In fact, Leyland said he was ready to take Sanchez out after the seventh before letting him pitch a bit longer.
Sanchez was asked after the game about his new place in franchise history. The Tigers have been around for over a century, and nobody has had a game quite like this.
"Amazing," Sanchez said. "I'm just going to keep working. That's not going to stop today."
Clemens and Wood are the only pitchers to strike out 20 in a nine-inning game. Since at least 1921, only Randy Johnson has struck out more than 17 while pitching eight innings or less. Johnson, who was then with Seattle, fanned 18 against Texas in a 1992 game, according to STATS.
Lolich struck out 16 twice in less than three weeks in 1969.
Sanchez (3-1) allowed five hits and one walk Friday.
"I don't think too much about strikeouts and records and things like that," Sanchez said. "I prefer getting some zeros."
Paul Maholm (3-2) allowed eight runs in 3 2-3 innings after giving up only three in his first four starts. Detroit's Matt Tuiasosopo homered and drove in a career-high five runs.
Sanchez kept the Braves off balance all night, striking out at least two hitters in every inning except the fourth. Several of his strikeouts came when he got Atlanta hitters to chase balls down around the dirt. He got Dan Uggla four times and Freddie Freeman and Juan Francisco three times each.