TORONTO -- The high number of walks have to come down, but for now, Blue Jays right-hander Aaron Sanchez is finding a way to survive even without his best command on the mound.
Sanchez walked a career-high seven but also limited the Orioles to two runs on two hits over 5 1/3 innings in a 4-2 victory on Wednesday night. The walks continued a recent trend that has seen the hard-throwing starter go through prolonged bouts of wildness in each outing.
Despite the free passes -- 12 in 14 innings this year -- Sanchez also has yet to allow more than three runs in a start, and on Wednesday it was good enough to earn his first win of the season. It hasn't always been pretty, but it's been effective.
"It was a battle for him, especially early," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "I thought he kicked it in a bit, especially in the fourth inning. It has been a battle for him up to this point this year, it's nice to see him get a win, but overall, even though he walked those guys, I thought he looked more confident today and a little more relaxed."
The seven walks came within two of a franchise record that has been done four times before. Jesse Jefferson, Jim Clancy, Pat Hentgen and most recently Chris Carpenter (1999) all hit that plateau once. It's also the most walks by a Toronto starter since Brandon Morrow had eight on April 26, 2014, against the Red Sox.
Sanchez found himself in plenty of jams Wednesday night but found a way out of it almost every time. There was a double play in each of the first two innings, but the only time Sanchez had to pay for one of his mistakes was in the third, when he allowed a two-run homer to Jimmy Paredes.
After the homer, Sanchez stranded two baserunners in the third and managed to pitch into the sixth. That's when he was pulled after walking two of the first three batters he faced, and while Sanchez intends to take the positives out of his first win of the season, the 22-year-old also knows a few issues need to be fixed.
"That's kind of how it's been," Sanchez said when asked if he had similar touch-and-go command issues in the Minors as well. "I need to do a better job with that, and my next four days into my next start, I'll lock that down, and hopefully it's better going into my next start."