Sanchez nearly flawless, but Blue Jays fall to Pirates

Right-hander goes three hitless innings with one walk, three strikeouts

Sanchez nearly flawless, but Blue Jays fall to Pirates

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Brent Morel had an RBI double and right-hander Casey Sadler didn't allow a hit over three innings to lead the Pirates to a 1-0 victory over the Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.

Pittsburgh's lone run came in the top of the fifth inning when Jose Tabata got things started with a one-out double to center field. Morel followed in the next at-bat with an opposite-field double for his first RBI and third hit of the spring.

Blue Jays left-hander Scott Barnes was charged with the run. He allowed two hits and struck out two over his one inning of work. It was Barnes' second appearance of the spring and he appears to be a longshot to crack the Opening Day roster. But he could factor into the bullpen at some point this season.

Sadler was flawless for the Pirates with three perfect innings. Toronto's lineup resembled one that could be used during the regular season with the exception of Russell Martin, who received the day off. Sadler struck out three and has yet to allow a run in five innings this spring.

"I think every time you go out in Spring Training, you want to face their guys," Sadler said. "Not only does it give you a chance to see where you're at; it gives you a chance to go up against the best. That's what you want to do."

Izturis' nice stop

Right-hander Aaron Sanchez was equally effective for the Blue Jays. Sanchez's only blemish came in the third inning when he issued a one-out walk to Morel. Outside of that one at-bat, Sanchez commanded his fastball well and didn't allow a hit over three innings.

Sanchez also struck out three batters and consistently hit 95 mph on the radar gun. The 22-year-old technically is competing for the final spot in Toronto's rotation but he seems destined for the bullpen because of the Blue Jays' glaring need for another reliable arm in late-inning relief.

"I think going back to my first start it was more about just making sure I felt good, making sure my fastball command was there," Sanchez said after his second outing of the spring. "That was really the first time I got to face hitters ... so to get back out there and get my feet wet and then go out there and do what I did today it's just something to build off of. I felt good out there and just take it through the next five days."

Third baseman Josh Donaldson was the only player in the Blue Jays' starting lineup who managed to get a hit. Donaldson had a single to left in the fourth inning off right-hander Stolmy Pimentel. The two-time MVP candidate has three hits in four games this spring after joining Toronto in an offseason trade with Oakland.

Up next for the Blue Jays: Right-hander Marcus Stroman will make his second start of the spring when the Blue Jays host the Astros in a 1:07 p.m. ET split-squad game which you can listen to exclusively on bluejays.com. Aaron Loup, Jeff Francis, Greg Burke, Ryan Tepera, Matt West and Cory Burnes also are scheduled to pitch against Houston. Toronto also will visit the Tigers in a split-squad game at Joker Marchant Stadium on Monday at 1:05 p.m. Left- hander Daniel Norris will start that game and is expected to be followed by Liam Hendriks, Roberto Osuna, Rob Rasmussen, Scott Copeland, Preston Guilmet and Juan Oramas.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.