Kings for a day, just 24 hours after taking over the AL East lead, the Blue Jays lost 6-2 to the Orioles in 12 innings on Sunday in front of a sold-out crowd at the Rogers Centre.
Despite winning two of three in the series, the Jays dropped back behind the O’s into second place, as they head out on the road for seven games to Houston and Kansas City.
The Jays’ bullpen had worked four straight scoreless innings in relief of all-star Aaron Sanchez. But in the 12th, left-hander Franklin Morales was credited with a walk and a balk before Jonathan Schoop delivered the go-ahead run on a single to left, scoring Pedro Alvarez. With two men on, leadoff man Adam Jones crushed a three-run homer to left-centre off right-hander Jesse Chavez.
Sanchez recorded yet another quality start, his 17th of the season, in 21 assignments. He has allowed two earned runs or less in eight straight starts and leads the AL with a 2.71 ERA.
Nursing a narrow two-run lead into the top of the seventh, the Jays’ ace right-hander walked the Orioles’ first batter in the frame, Chris Davis. At that moment of release, above the sudden hush of the madding crowd, Sanchez spat a clearly audible F-bomb directed solely at himself. Easily understandable. The 24-year-old, still refining his craft, knew he had broken a cardinal rule of pitching: Make them earn their way on base when you are holding the lead in late innings.
Sanchez had been efficiently dominant to that point, allowing a walk and three hits with only one O’s runner reaching scoring position, that being Matt Wieters with two out in the fifth. But, oh, those leadoff walks. The next batter, Mark Trumbo scorched a one-hopper at third baseman Darwin Barney that he contorted to avoid like a slow-motion Keanu Reaves in The Matrix. That put runners on second and third. An RBI gronder and a sac fly later, the game was tied.
While Sanchez is patiently, or impatiently, waiting for the other shoe to drop concerning his seemingly inevitable move to the bullpen, the talented starter is making good use of his borrowed time, leaping with both feet to squash opposing hitters, quietly making his case on the field to remain in the rotation. On Sunday, Sanchez allowed four hits and two runs over seven innings with no decision, maintaining his record at 11-1. His only loss this season came on April 22, making 17 starts since that time.
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