BALTIMORE—Aaron Sanchez is playing a vital role in Toronto’s march to the post-season.
Nonetheless, the organization has made the extra effort to keep their young pitcher fresh.
Sanchez took full advantage of that strategy with another dominant performance last night.
Jose Bautista homered on the game’s first pitch while Russell Martin went deep four batters later in support of Sanchez, leading the Blue Jays to a 5-3 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.
Toronto took two of the three games in the pivotal American League East series.
The fading Orioles now are four games behind the first-place Jays and sit tied with Detroit for the second wild-card spot.
“It’s never easy when you play these guys,” said Jays’ manager John Gibbons.
“This time of year, I mean this is a team we’re locked in it with,” he noted.
“It’s always big to beat them.”
Sanchez (13-2) was recalled from Class-A Dunedin to make the start. He spent 10 days in the minors to limit his innings and he took advantage of the extra rest.
Sanchez allowed an unearned run and five hits with two strikeouts over six innings and a season-high 112 pitches.
“I felt like my body had been bouncing back pretty well all year,” he noted. “I think it was just one of those things where it had to be done.
“I went down to Florida and I took it very serious,” Sanchez stressed.
“My season is not done and I knew that, so it was go down there, get work in, understand what I’m trying to accomplish, and come back in a big game.”
Michael Saunders hit his 23rd homer—a solo shot in the eighth that made it 5-1.
Orioles’ second baseman Jonathan Schoop had three hits, including a two-run homer in the ninth off Roberto Osuna.
After Bautista drilled Yovani Gallardo’s first pitch over the wall in centre, Martin followed with a two-run shot.
“I feel like I’m still seeing the ball well,” said Martin, who had nine homers and 22 RBIs in August.
“Sometimes you get a mistake and you hit it, and sometimes the pitcher makes pitches and you get out,” he reasoned.
“For the most part, I just feel like I’m having good at-bats.”
The Orioles pulled within 3-1 in the fifth when third baseman Josh Donaldson couldn’t handle a sharp grounder by Manny Machado.
After allowing the two homers in the first, Gallardo (4-7) settled down and retired the final 10 batters he faced.
“He pitched well, I thought, for the most part,” said Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter.
“He gave us a chance to win.”
Elsewhere in the AL, Cleveland doubled Minnesota 8-4, Boston topped Tampa Bay 8-6, New York shaded Kansas City 5-4 (13 innings), Detroit edged Chicago 3-2, Texas bombed Seattle 14-1, and Houston nipped Oakland 4-3.