Sanchez steps up in biggest start of career

Blue Jays right-hander holds Indians to one run on two hits in Game 4

Sanchez steps up in biggest start of career

TORONTO -- With his team facing elimination, Aaron Sanchez gave the Blue Jays exactly what they needed in their 5-1 victory in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series against the Indians on Tuesday at Rogers Centre.

Sanchez -- making his lone start of the series and second career postseason start -- became just the second pitcher in franchise history to throw at least six innings and allow two hits or fewer in a postseason start, joining Dave Stieb, who did so in the 1985 ALCS.

ALCS Game 5: Today at 4 p.m. ET on TBS/Sportsnet/RDS

Sanchez, a hard-throwing young right-hander, limited Cleveland to one run, helping reduce the Tribe's ALCS lead to 3-1.

Game Date Matchup TV/Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 14 CLE 2, TOR 0 video
Gm 2 Oct. 15 CLE 2, TOR 1 video
Gm 3 Oct. 17 CLE 4, TOR 2 video
Gm 4 Oct. 18 TOR 5, CLE 1 video
Gm 5 Oct. 19 CLE 3, TOR 0 video

"Really, backs against the wall, he came through again," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "He's really done that so much this year, but never in a game of this magnitude."

After pitching to the lowest ERA (3.00) among qualified pitchers in the AL and making his first All-Star appearance, the 24-year-old Sanchez was looking for better results after a disappointing outing (six runs in 5 2/3 innings) by his own standards against the Rangers in Game 3 of the AL Division Series.

With Blue Jays fans looking for a reason to cheer after three straight losses, Sanchez delivered quick, efficient innings with ground ball after ground ball. The young hurler, who likely won't pitch again in the ALCS no matter how deep the series goes, acknowledged he embraced the challenge, pitching with no room for error.

"It just comes down to doing what you've done all year," Sanchez said. "Staying in yourself, staying in that groove that you have had all year, and understanding that you have to execute pitch after pitch and not get ahead of yourself."

Sanchez's poise and maturity have also been noticed by the veterans of the staff, including setup man Jason Grilli, who pointed to the young ace's maturity when facing pressure.

"This kid is going to have a hell of a career," Grilli said. "He's just getting started."

Alykhan Ravjiani is a reporter for based in Toronto. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.