Two innings too much for setup man Sanchez

Blue Jays righty pitches clean 8th, allows walk-off single to Braves in 9th

Two innings too much for setup man Sanchez

ATLANTA -- Aaron Sanchez enjoyed a lot of success when pitching multiple innings out of the bullpen last year, but it hasn't worked out so well recently.

For the second time in as many appearances, Toronto manager John Gibbons attempted to get two innings out of Sanchez, and it backfired both times. First it was a blown hold against the Yankees on Saturday, and three days later it was a rough ninth inning that led to a 3-2 walk-off loss vs. the Braves.

Sanchez shouldn't have any problems going more than one inning after last year's experience, combined with his previous role as a starter earlier this season, but at least for these two occasions, it didn't go as planned. Three singles and just one out in the ninth led to the surprise loss against the struggling Braves.

"Something that I hadn't done in a while, so it was just something I have to get used to doing," Sanchez said after the loss. "I felt fine out there today, just a couple of hits here and there. A tie game going into the last inning when we don't get to bat again, it's tough. That's how you lose games."

Gibbons ideally would limit Sanchez to one inning per appearance, but in each of the last two occasions, he attempted to get another frame because the games were still tied. On Tuesday in Atlanta, Gibbons previously used Brett Cecil and Mark Lowe, and he was hoping to extend the game with his primary setup man in Sanchez.

The inning started off on a bad note when Adonis Garcia reached base on an infield single. A.J. Pierzynski then followed with a single to right, and just like that, the Blue Jays had their backs against the wall with runners on the corners and nobody out.

Two batters later, Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons ended it with a single to right against a drawn-in infield. That snapped Atlanta's 12-game losing streak at home and cost the Blue Jays an opportunity to increase their lead to four games over the second-place Yankees in the American League East.

"The way it was going, it was a tie game, we needed two innings out of him," Gibbons said when asked to explain the move. "We burned Cecil and Lowe, we needed two out of him there and if it was still tied, it was going to be two for [Roberto] Osuna. That's the way it goes when you only get five out of a starter."

For Sanchez, it was the fourth earned run he's allowed since transitioning to the bullpen at the end of July. It also was only his second loss since joining the 'pen and his first since Aug. 14, when he surrendered one run over two-thirds of an inning against the Yankees.

"I'm out there until they take the ball from my hand," Sanchez said. "If it means I go four innings, I go four innings. I felt good like I said, just sometimes baseball doesn't go your way. Strap it up tomorrow and go get them."

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