Blue Jays reliever unable to record an out for second straight appearance
By Jamie Ross
TORONTO -- Aaron Sanchez's recent struggles continued during the Blue Jays' 4-2 victory over the Yankees on Monday at Roger Centre. Toronto's primary setup man allowed an earned run on a leadoff walk and a hit to the only two batters he faced in the eighth inning before he was lifted in favor of Brett Cecil, who bailed out the Blue Jays en route to the win on Monday night.
Sanchez hasn't been able to retire any of the past six batters he's faced dating back to Saturday's loss to the Red Sox, when he allowed two earned runs on three hits.
"I didn't like the leadoff walk," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of his 23-year-old's outing in the series opener. "That puts everyone in a bad frame of mind."
Sanchez's struggles began on Sept. 12, when he walked two and allowed an earned run over an inning of work against the Yankees in New York. Three days later, the sinkerballer was saddled with the loss after giving up four hits and an earned run over 1 1/3 innings against the Braves. Saturday was his worst outing of the season, when he was tagged for three hits and threw a wild pitch before exiting the game without recording an out.
It's the first time Sanchez has faced this type of adversity as a reliever. Pitching out of the bullpen in 2015, he'd allowed only a pair of earned runs over his first 20 relief appearances for a 0.96 ERA, resembling his success in 2014, when he posted a 1.09 ERA in 33 innings and picked up three saves.
Prior to Monday's game, Gibbons had given the right-hander a vote of confidence, saying he had no plans to adjust Sanchez's role.
"He's given up a lot of ground balls that are finding holes," Gibbons said. "That's where he is. He's not a big strikeout guy, so you gotta live with that because he can also roll some double plays."
While Gibbons' confidence in Sanchez hasn't wavered, should he need to go with another option, Mark Lowe would be a leading candidate. The right-hander, who was acquired at the non-waiver Trade Deadline from the Mariners, was rocked for three earned runs in his Blue Jays debut, but he has since put up scoreless appearances in 17 of his 18 outings.
"Other than that debut, he's probably been perfect," Gibbons said.
Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.