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DET@CLE: Anibal fans four in strong return from DL

The Tigers have an offense ranked second in baseball and a starting rotation ranked in the top 10, even while their ace, Justin Verlander, has an uncharacteristic, yet still productive ERA of 3.71.

Worries are hard to find in Detroit these days, where the Tigers have won seven of nine.

And the last of their lingering concerns may have been eliminated with the encouraging status of Anibal Sanchez.

Thursday against the White Sox, Sanchez will make his second start since returning from the 15-day disabled list with a shoulder strain. He's been on a pitch count since coming back, reaching 73 pitches in his most recent outing against the Indians, holding them to three hits and one run over five innings.

Sanchez doesn't like working under a pitch count, but he's getting stronger.

"It's part of my process," he said. "I am building my arm. I don't know how many I will have next time, but it's going to be better."

Sanchez, making $16.8 million this season after signing with the Tigers in the offseason, has appeared worthy of his new contract through his first 14 starts, in which he's struck out 105 batters over 86 2/3 innings while posting a 2.70 ERA.

With a healthy Sanchez, Verlander and Max Scherzer, who is undefeated at 13-0, the Tigers are in good shape.

"I was pleasantly surprised the way he threw the ball," manager Jim Leyland said of Sanchez. "I did not think he would throw with that velocity."

Meanwhile, the White Sox struggling season has only been highlighted whenever Chris Sale takes the mound.

One of two All-Star selections for the White Sox, Sale hasn't won in his past seven starts, despite posting a 3.10 ERA. He's 5-8 on the season with a 2.78 ERA.

Of all qualified pitchers in the Majors, no one has received less run support than Sale, who is being backed by 2.56 runs per start.

"Yeah, it's a mental grind and especially when you go through something like this," Sale said after his last start. "It's even more you got to be on your 'A' game.

"You can't get down on yourself or down on your team. Keep plugging along. I know that it's part of the game."

Tigers: V-Mart streaking toward break
Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder continue to torment opposing pitchers this season -- they each had three more hits Wednesday night in an 8-5 victory over Chicago.

And with Victor Martinez playing like his former self of late, the heart of the order has gotten a whole lot stronger.

Martinez, who hit .221 in April and .235 in May, went 3-for-4 on Wednesday to extend his hitting streak to 12 games and is hitting .291 (41-for-141) with five homers and 22 RBIs in 37 games since the start of June.

White Sox: Beckham on a tear
Two straight seasons with a batting average of .234 or below did something to one White Sox former first-round Draft pick.

Gordon Beckham, Chicago's 26-year-old second baseman, is showing tremendous improvement at the plate this season. With his second home run Wednesday, Beckham is hitting .484 (15-for-31) over his last nine games and .340 on the season.

"I feel like I turned the corner in terms of, 'Let's go play baseball.' I know what I'm trying to do," Beckham said. "I've been here long enough to understand what you go through and the highs and the lows. So I'm trying to manage those as good as I can.

"It's a lot easier to do obviously with the success, but the successes come because of the way I've handled it internally. So, you know, yeah, it's a good thing. I'm just in a good spot. Mentally, physically, everything, I just feel good. I feel like I'm not in constant scramble mode going into a game and just not knowing that I've got it."

Worth noting
• Jose Valverde recorded his last save for the Tigers on June 11 and has since been demoted to the Minors. In his absence, Joaquin Benoit has gone 5-for-5 in save opportunities without allowing a run.

• Chicago's Alex Rios went hitless in four at-bats Wednesday after going 6-for-6 on Tuesday.

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