"He pitched good enough to win. Their guy did, too, that was the problem," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "But he'll take a lot from this game; he went deep into the game and was very efficient. It just shows what he can do when he throws strikes. He can be a ground-ball machine. You look at his starts, he keeps getting better and better and better. When the season is all said and done he'll be on his way."
For six innings, Sanchez was able to avoid his biggest foe to date: walks. The 22-year-old leads the Major Leagues with 32 free passes. But he's been able to reel them in one by one, walking one fewer batter in each of his last four starts.
He walked three in his last 1 1/3 innings on Tuesday, but was otherwise in control as he struck out five while allowing three earned runs on six hits over his 7 1/3 frames.
Sanchez induced 13 groundouts along the way, which included a big moment in the sixth with he was able to get Albert Pujols to hit into a double play to end the inning after allowing back-to-back singles.
"It's a big inning, the game was close, 2-1, you've got the meat of their order to come out of there with nothing. Any athlete in that situation would be pumped up," Sanchez said.
His outing wasn't without blemishes, however. Sanchez surrendered a solo homer to Kole Calhoun in the fourth, the first homer he had allowed since April 27.
Calhoun was the culprit again in the seventh. After drawing a leadoff walk, he came around to score on a Chris Iannetta single that knotted the game at 2.
Having Sanchez come back out for the eighth inning was a vote of confidence from Gibbons, who thought his young righty was still going strong after seven.
"I'm going to take the ball until he takes it from me," said Sanchez, who's limited the opposition to three earned runs or fewer in seven of his eight starts. "The confidence he has in me … for me to go back out there in the eighth, that gives me more confidence in myself, too.
Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.