"I want to say thank God for today," Sanchez said. "Today, everything was working good. I think the preparation that I had was more spiritual than physical."
Sanchez's confidence was back. He threw many of the same pitches, but with more conviction, and in turn more precision down in the strike zone. His fastball topped out at 95 mph. His changeup ranged as high as 88 with some snap.
Sanchez believed in his stuff, in his faith, in everything, he said. He believed he could pitch through the Ian Kinsler fourth-inning error on a potential inning-ending double-play ball that scored the Angels' first run. It took Sanchez a full count and more pitches, but he did, spotting a sinker inside that Chris Iannetta hit to shortstop Jose Iglesias.
"I don't get down," Sanchez said. "I just try to do my best for the next hitter, because in the end it's baseball. I know we have a pretty good defense, so I need to get rid of that kind of play. That's what I did."
As Sanchez walked off the mound, he pointed to his catcher James McCann, with whom he hadn't worked in a while. It's about as much emotion as Sanchez will show for a regular season game before September.
"He seemed to have a determination," manager Brad Ausmus said. "When he came off the mound between innings, you could tell there was kind of a different look in his eyes. He needed to prove he wasn't the pitcher that people had seen last start."
Sanchez did the same after Albert Pujols made him pay for a changeup over the plate with a sixth-inning homer, Sanchez's 12th home run allowed this season. Though David Freese hit a one-out double, Sanchez retired his final five batters from there, including three consecutive strikeouts.
Sanchez allowed two runs on six hits, striking out nine.
"His pitch count was up," Ausmus said, "but I felt like if he could come out of there with seven complete, he'd feel good about himself, and he did this time. Hopefully it's a building block."