Blue Jays 5, D-Backs 1
Aaron Sanchez led the Blue Jays to their second straight victory Tuesday night with seven strong innings of work against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The win evened Toronto's record on this brief west coast road trip to 2-2 and put them a win away from sweeping the D-Backs for the first time in franchise history, albeit a small sweep in a two-game series.
Arizona actually drew first blood in this one as they manufactured a run in the opening frame with a Jean Segura leadoff single, a stolen base, and a pair of ground balls to second base to bring the run around. But after that, it was all Blue Jays.
The big blast came off the bat the Edwin Encarnacion to cap a three run, two out rally in the third inning. After retiring eight of the first nine Blue Jays he faced, Zack Godley immediately ran into trouble when the lineup came around for a second time. Devon Travis started the rally with a single to center, and then Josh Donaldson whacked a ball into left to set the table for Encarnacion.
This is where Godley made his biggest mistake of the night; hanging a 2-1 curve ball that floated right into Encarnacion's happy zone. He didn't miss it. The blast pushed Encarnacion's OPS over 1.200 in his last 30 games and increased his league leading RBI total to 84. It's safe to say that this man is going to get paid handsomely this winter, even if his suitors are largely limited to American League clubs.
Sanchez meanwhile spent much of the rest of the game working in and out of trouble. The most important sequence probably came in the bottom or the third inning when Sanchez surrendered a leadoff single to the pitcher and then allowed an infield hit to Segura. After a Michael Bourn ground out moved the tying runs into scoring position with just one out, Sanchez was able to retire both Paul Goldschmidt and Jake Lamb to wiggle out of trouble.
This is one of those moments that really illustrates how good Sanchez has become. Goldschmidt leads all MLB first basemen in WAR since the start of 2015 and has a 156 wRC+ since that time. Add in the fact that Lamb quietly leads the NL in OPS and slugging percentage this season, and the third inning should have been a big one for Arizona. It was their golden opportunity to deliver an immediate counter punch to the Toronto three run frame, and they couldn't do it with their best hitters at the plate.
Sanchez not only was able to work out of trouble in this game, he was able to do it without his best stuff. That's often something that separates the good pitchers from the great ones. The curve ball seemed to get Sanchez in trouble a few times, and yet he kept grinding and always seemed to make a great pitch when he needed it most. We saw this again in the fourth inning when Sanchez used his heavy sinking fastball to get Nick Ahmed to ground back to the mound and into a 1-6-3 double play that destroyed another Arizona threat.
With this outing, Sanchez has now held opposing lineups to one earned run or fewer in a remarkable ten of his 19 starts. The kid who had to battle through spring training to earn a spot in the rotation is becoming a monster on the mound right before our eyes, and it appears like the only thing that can slow him down now is the looming innings limit the Jays understandably want to put on his arm. Regardless of how the team plays this (and it will be a big topic of discussion in the coming weeks), it's exciting to recognize that the Jays have control of Sanchez, Stroman and Osuna through the 2020 season.
The Jays tacked on an insurance run in both the fifth and ninth innings with some help from Arizona pitching. In both frames, the D-Backs threw pick off attempts up the first base line handing Toronto free bases, and in both frames, the Jays followed it up with a single to score a run.
Roberto Osuna was used in a four run game in the ninth (since he was already warmed up before the fifth Toronto run came across the plate), but he only needed seven pitches to finish off the D-Backs. This should make him available without issue in Wednesday afternoon's game which features Marcus Stroman taking on Patrick Corbin at 3:40 p.m. eastern time.
Jays of the Day: There's two obvious choices here in Sanchez (.272) and Encarnacion (.259). Everyone else only made a small impact on the WPA board with Josh Donaldson's 0.66 mark ranking third, and Kevin Pillar's -0.55 figure bringing up the rear.
No suckage Jays.