Blue Jays take opener as Sanchez continues dominance
The Blue Jays opened their first series with the San Francisco Giants on Monday night, which also marked their first time playing as the Away team in an NL series this season.
The Blue Jays entered AT&T park with a lifetime 2-6 record, and not having visited since June of 2013. Aaron Sanchez took his 2-1 (2.84) record to the mound against veteran Jake Peavy in the opening game of a 3 game set with the Giants, looking to extend the dominance by Blue Jays’ starters in May. The Blue Jays came into the game leading the MLB in starter’s ERA with a 1.95 in May, following a very strong April as well.
Manager John Gibbons shuffled the lineup a little bit moving Michael Saunders into the 5 hole in the order, Troy Tulowitzki to the 6th spot, while red-hot Kevin Pillar was the lead off man.
The tweak paid off in the first inning after Peavy sandwiched walks to Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion around a Jose Bautista single, and Saunders drove in the first run of the ball game with a single to right field. Unfortunately the Jays weren’t able to cash in any more in the first, despite having the bases loaded with one out.
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Encarnacion gave the Jays a 3-0 lead in the 3rd inning with a two-run shot to left field. The home run was a milestone for Encarnacion who tied franchise icon Joe Carter with his 203rd home run as a Blue Jay, and his 6th of 2016. The blast puts him in a tie for 4th in Blue Jays history behind Vernon Wells, Bautista active with 249, and Carlos Delgado the franchise leader with 336. To put the slugger’s dominance in perspective, Encarnation reached 203 home runs in 3,172 at bats, while Carter accomplished the feat in 4,093 ABs.
The Jays squandered another bases loaded opportunity in the 5th inning when Russell Martin popped out to end the threat. The Jays have struggled hitting with runners in scoring position and that continued on Monday as they left 7 runners on through the first 5 frames.
The Giants got on the board in the 6th inning after Sanchez had cruised through their lineup to that point. Michael Saunders lost a Brandon Belt drive in the lights, which put runners on 2nd and 3rd, before a RBI groundout from Hunter Pence broke the shut out.
Saunders’ tough inning continued when he attempted to play a fly ball in foul territory, only to trip over the Giants’ bullpen, having the ball clip off his glove, and then the top of his head as he fell to the ground.
Despite being a bit wild finishing with 5 walks, Sanchez allowed only 3 hits and a lone run through 7 complete, registering another quality start. He didn’t have his best command on the night, but was able to register 5 strikeouts and escape any trouble he put himself into with walks.
Gavin Floyd did a fantastic job bridging the gap to the 9th inning, retiring the Giants’ 3-4-5 hitters in order in the 8th. Closer Roberto Osuna gave up a leadoff double to Brandon Crawford before retiring the next three hitters for his 7th save, including Buster Posey who came on to hit for the pitcher.
The series continues on Tuesday with J.A. Happ (4-0) pitching against Matt Cain (0-4), with a 10:15pm EST start.
- The Blue Jays were 12-8 in inter-league play, and the Giants 13-7 in 2015.
- The Jays’ hitters are averaging more than 9 strike outs per game so far this season.
- Andy Burns got his first major league at bat with two out in the eighth inning, batting for Sanchez. The 25 year old rookie struck out against Hunter Strickland.
- Sanchez had his first major league at bat and didn’t waste any time in the box, hitting a sharp ground ball to Joe Panik for a ground out in the second inning.