TORONTO – One time through the order, Aaron Sanchez looked every bit as dominant as he can be, dotting his four-seamer up and his two-seamer down, sprinkling in some changes, and ripping off some of the nastiest curveballs he’s thrown all year.
The Toronto Blue Jays weren’t simply getting innings-eating – their base need in this period of tumult – they got mastery. Then came the fateful fourth inning when everything suddenly unravelled. Five straight hits, two of them home runs, all on relatively middle-middle pitches.
Two of the hits came off the two-seamer, then one each against his other offerings. And a one-run lead turned quickly into a four-run deficit that stood up in a 5-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox, who arrived in Toronto having lost six of eight but took two of three over the weekend.
Sanchez worked through two more innings – with none of the drama from Saturday when Marcus Stroman reacted angrily to a mid-inning removal – to get through six frames, a gift for a beleaguered staff. His 11 strikeouts, one short of his career-high June 7, 2016 at Detroit, hinted his dominance.
Still, the right-hander’s incongruent pitching line is emblematic of a Blue Jays team that’s been off-kilter for a couple of weeks now.
Matt Shoemaker’s loss has been an ongoing drag on the pitching staff, a pillar of stability and premium performance they simply can’t replace. And hits remain remarkably hard-to-come-by for the offence, with the energy from Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s promotion dissipating as he endures normal growing pains for a 20-year-old transitioning to the majors.
Guerrero, batting second for the third-straight day, appears poised for a breakthrough, building upon his two-hit, two-walk Saturday with a laser-beam double in the first to help set up the game’s first …read more