After beginning his Tigers career with a loss to the Blue Jays and a win over the Indians, Sanchez will take the hill on Wednesday night against a New York lineup that features threats from top to bottom, and a new look in the wake of Alex Rodriguez's broken left hand.
"It's different because you've got nine hitters," Sanchez said of adjusting to the AL from the National League, where he had spent 6 1/2 seasons pitching for the Marlins. "In the National League, you've got eight. But [the approach] is the same. You need to throw strikes. You need to keep the ball down. You need to focus on every pitch, make adjustments on the hitters."
Detroit, going for a seventh straight win, has cut Chicago's AL Central lead to a half-game. The Yankees, meanwhile, lead the second-place Orioles by 4 1/2 games -- their smallest margin since June 29.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi significantly altered the Yankees' starting lineup for the first time on Friday, moving Curtis Granderson to the leadoff spot, where he spent most of his tenure with Detroit. But the former Tigers center fielder emerged as more of a power hitter after being traded to the Yankees, forcing Girardi to address his "unconventional" lineup before each of the past five games that Granderson spent in the leadoff spot.
Meanwhile, Austin Jackson -- another piece of the three-team deal that sent Granderson to New York -- sets the table for a Detroit lineup that will face New York ace CC Sabathia and is equally capable of scoring runs. Jackson, whom Girardi remembers from the speedy outfielder's first Spring Training, is enjoying his best season three years into his career, hitting .320 with a .404 on-base percentage and beginning to hear the "star" label attached to his name.
"If he turns into a star, great," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. "You know he's going to be a good player. I think he's going to be a star at some point, but really, what's the difference?"
Sanchez will realize that even with Granderson capable of either belting a home run or swinging and missing atop the Yankees' lineup, New York can still score runs -- just with a different look than Jackson and the Tigers.
"Speed does play a role, because I have two of my faster players up there," Girardi said. "So after, if you were to look at the speed on our team, after Granderson, Ichiro [Suzuki] and [Derek Jeter], who's next? Two of the three are up top. So speed does play a role. But our type of speed is not the type that's going to steal second and steal third, usually. It's just that they're faster than the guys below them."
Sabathia, coming off his second complete game of the season, will try to get the Yankees back on track amid a stretch of 12 losses in 18 games.
New York: Ichiro not a leadoff option
If Girardi leads off with someone other than Granderson, he's likely to turn to Jeter, who has led off for New York 100 times this season, instead of Ichiro.
While Ichiro spent most of his career in Seattle atop the lineup, he is getting on base at a .290 clip this season, compared to his .322 average and .366 on-base percentage in 11-plus seasons with the Mariners.
"If it were three or four years ago, it's probably a different story," Girardi said.
But even at 38, Jeter is as successful now as at any point in his career, leading the AL with 143 hits, one more than Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera.
"I think that is impressive," Girardi said. "When you're leading the American League at any age, it's impressive, because there are a lot of good hitters in this league."
Detroit: Boesch finds success in five-hole
Delmon Young figures to hit fifth on Wednesday against the left-handed Sabathia, but Brennan Boesch continued to validate Leyland's decision to put him in the five-hole against right-handed pitchers in Tuesday's 6-5 win.
Boesch went 2-for-3 with a run scored on Tuesday, improving to 8-for-19 in the No. 5 spot since Leyland flipped him with Young against most right-handed starters.
Boesch started this season in the two-hole and struggled, prompting a move to the bottom half of the order. He hit fifth in 93 games two years ago, but that was without Prince Fielder in the cleanup spot.
"Prince is obviously one of the most feared hitters in the game, so hitting behind him, it's a challenge, because obviously, pitchers are going to be pretty careful pitching to Prince," Boesch said. "You're going to probably come up in a lot of key situations. But in this lineup, I'd be happy to hit anywhere, really."
With the Yankees in Detroit, Yankee Stadium will host its second soccer game of the year on Wednesday night as part of the World Football Challenge, with Real Madrid taking on AC Milan. Injured closer Mariano Rivera will once again participate in the coin toss prior to kickoff, as he did when Chelsea played Paris Saint-Germain to a 1-1 draw in July.
Since debuting in the World Series as a 20-year-old against the Yankees, Cabrera has had nothing but success against the team from the Bronx. His 2-for-4 effort on Tuesday, which included a double and a home run, improved his career numbers in 38 games against New York to a .370 average (51-for-138) with 10 doubles, 15 homers and 37 RBIs.
The Tigers have won 24 of their past 35 games against New York, including four of eight this season, with two games remaining in Detroit.