Just three starts into a long season, Aaron Sanchez is proving all those that suggested he was best suited to a role in the bullpen wrong, stepping to the mound in Boston on Sunday and turning in another gem to get Toronto back in the win column and give the club a chance to earn a series split on Marathon Monday. Sanchez gave up four walks and two hits over seven innings, striking out seven while picking up his first win of the season as the Blue Jays claimed Sunday’s game 5-3.
After pitching exceptionally well, but getting very little run support (or help from the bullpen) in his first two outings, the 23-year-old righty went out and gave his club another outstanding start and this time, the hitters came through, putting up four runs before their starter left the game before Roberto Osuna gave up two in a non-save appearance prior to shutting the door in the ninth.
In 20 innings to start the season, Sanchez has allowed just 10 hits and seven walks while striking out 20, coming out of Boston with a 0.85 WHIP and a 1.35 ERA. It’s early, but so far, all signs point to the former first-round pick being a major factor in the rotation for the reigning American League East champs.
While Sunday was very much about Sanchez’ dominant effort on the bump, it was also just the second time all season that the Blue Jays have reached double-digits in hits and outside of a Jose Bautista home run to open the scoring in the first, Toronto finally got around to scoring runs the old-fashioned way – by stringing together hits in multiple innings.
Everyone in the shuffled up lineup collected at least one hit, with Kevin Pillar leading the way with three after being dropped to No. 8 in the order. “The Big 3” remained red hot on Sunday, with Josh Donaldson, Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion going a combined 6-for-15 with three runs scored and four of the five Toronto RBIs, but it’s the fact that guys like Chris Colabello, Russell Martin and Ryan Goins got on the board that is crucial.
Even though it was mostly rainbows and unicorns in this penultimate game of the series, Toronto still struck out another 12 times and Osuna gave up a single and a homer before recording the final three outs, neither of which are great. But after struggling in the first two games of this series, coming away with a mostly positive performance on Sunday is a step in the right direction.
Player of the Game: Aaron Sanchez
He was lights out in his first two starts and he was lights out again on Sunday, giving up a run in the third and nothing more, showing the stuff that convinced John Gibbons the Blue Jays staff that Sanchez would have a great impact in the rotation, at least to start the season.