Second time's a charm for Sanchez's return

Righty allows one unearned run, fans four over five innings after being activated from DL

Second time's a charm for Sanchez's return

TORONTO -- It took two tries, but Aaron Sanchez's return to the Blue Jays' starting rotation finally went as planned in Sunday's 3-2 win and series sweep over the Mariners.

Sanchez gave the Blue Jays five innings with just one unearned run. The right-hander threw 78 pitches, walking two and striking out four. After leaving the game just 13 pitches into his last start and landing on the DL once again, Sanchez said that he was pain-free on Sunday.

"Nice to finally get back out there," Sanchez said after the game. "It's been a long time coming. I thought the start against Tampa Bay was going to be no issues, and today reassured that there were none."

Curveball usage was key for Sanchez, as that pitch creates the most pressure on the area of his finger that was injured. His 15.4-percent curveball rate fits right in line with his usage over the past two seasons, and his average two-seam fastball velocity of 94.9 mph produces no cause for concern.

"I go back out there with the mindset I would if there were no issues before," Sanchez said. "I felt like if I went out there thinking about that, I was already defeated."

The shortened start Sunday was due to Sanchez's recent workload as opposed to the injury itself. He threw a simulated game in Dunedin, Fla., early last week and used approximately 60 pitches, sitting down several times during the session to mimic the nuances of a start.

"We were even thinking about sending him back out there," Toronto manager John Gibbons said, "but we decided not to. He felt great."

Sanchez also found a particular comfort level with Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile. Just a day after fellow starter Marcus Stroman heaped praise on Maile for his ability to play excellent defense and control the running game, Sanchez was quick to do the same.

"I've actually spent some time with Luke in the [Arizona] Fall League a few years back," Sanchez said. "I knew Luke, and I knew what he was all about before he even came over here. When I found out we got him, I was ecstatic."

Keegan Matheson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.