Commanding Sanchez tops Astros in Toronto

Commanding Sanchez tops Astros in Toronto

TORONTO -- Aaron Sanchez threw eight-plus strong innings and the Blue Jays put up a big third frame in a 6-2 victory over the Astros on Friday night at Rogers Centre.

The rookie right-hander surrendered six hits and didn't walk a batter for the first time as a starter in his career, leading the Blue Jays to their third straight win in the series opener.

"For us to not draw a walk, and for him to be so pitch efficient, that's why they're excited about him and the future he has ahead of him," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said.

As he mowed through the Astros in order early on, retiring the first nine batters he faced, the Blue Jays' bats gave Sanchez an outburst of support in the third. Jose Reyes swatted a two-run shot to kick things off before Jose Bautista did the same two batters later as the home team tallied five runs on six hits to go up 5-0.

Toronto added another run in the sixth as Astros starter Roberto Hernandez was knocked from the game after allowing six runs (five earned) over 5 2/3 innings. The right-hander gave up nine hits and two homers before turning the ball over to the bullpen.

That was more than enough of a cushion for Sanchez, who went on to throw his fourth consecutive quality start while denying the normally heavy-hitting Astros a runner in scoring position until the ninth inning, when Jason Castro cracked a leadoff homer. Jonathan Villar and George Springer followed up with singles to drive Sanchez from the game.

"They got a good offense, they can do some damage," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "They've been doing it all year late in the game. [Sanchez] was tremendous. The more he goes deeper into the game, now he's gaining confidence, he knows he can do it. He was easy to watch, a lot of ground balls, strike after strike."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Power move: Reyes' first home run of the season with one out in the third triggered a five-run outburst by the Blue Jays that featured a towering two-run blast out to left field by Bautista. Reyes' two-run homer marked the first time he'd gone deep at Rogers Centre since July 22, 2014, against the Red Sox.

Reyes' two-run shot

Cruise control: Sanchez was dominant in the most impressive outing of his young career, pitching into the ninth for the first time as a starter and never throwing more than 16 pitches in an inning through his first eight frames. More >

Sanchez's strong outing

QUOTABLE

"We knew he was erratic early in the year and we expected him to spray the ball around a little bit more, and what we saw was different. He pounded the zone with his fastball." -- Hinch, on Sanchez's outing

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Chris Colabello was 3-for-4 at the plate for the Blue Jays, extending his hitting streak to 15 games, the longest active streak in the Majors.

Colabello's RBI single

Castro's homer in the ninth inning snapped a streak of 21 consecutive scoreless innings for Blue Jays pitchers.

Castro's solo homer

REPLAY REVIEW
The Astros escaped the third inning when Russell Martin was caught stealing at second base to end the frame. The Blue Jays challenged, but after review, it was ruled that the call stands.

Castro's out stands after review

WHAT'S NEXT
Astros: Brett Oberholtzer will make his third start of the season on Saturday. The left-hander has spent most of 2015 on the disabled list with a nagging blister on his finger. He returned Monday to make his second start, going 5 1/3 innings while allowing two earned runs on seven hits against the Orioles. Oberholtzer is 1-1 in two career starts against Toronto, posting a 3.65 ERA over 12 1/3 innings.

Blue Jays: Drew Hutchison will look to rebound from his outing in Minnesota when he was chased after allowing seven hits and four runs in 5 1/3 innings. The right-hander has just one win in his last four starts, although his one win in that span was a shutout against the White Sox on May 25.

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Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Dan Toman is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.