Sanchez, Carrera open up two-game lead on wild card with win over Orioles | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Sanchez, Carrera open up two-game lead on wild card with win over Orioles

Toronto Blue Jays' Josh Donaldson watches his two run home run against the Baltimore Orioles during the first inning of MLB baseball action in Toronto, Tuesday September 27, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch
September 27, 2016 - 8:25 PM

TORONTO - If Tuesday night was Aaron Sanchez's last start of the regular season, he'll be happy with the way his first full year in Toronto's starting rotation played out.

But he won't be satisfied. Not yet, anyway.

Sanchez threw six solid innings of one-run ball while striking out 10 to help lead the Blue Jays to a 5-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles in a matchup between American League wild-card holders.

"There's areas that went kind of north or south through the course of the year but for the most part everything kind of worked out well for me," Sanchez said. "It's a good accomplishment and whatever, but there's still games left and hopefully more playoff games for me to pitch in too."

As it stands now, the 24-year-old right-hander's next expected start would come on the last game of the season against the Red Sox in Boston. But if Toronto has to play the one-game wild-card, Sanchez's spot could be skipped so he could start the must-win game instead, especially if the Blue Jays' opponent happens to be the Orioles.

Tuesday's win, which gave the Jays a two-game lead over Baltimore for the first AL wild card spot, also extended Sanchez's undefeated run against the Orioles through five starts this season. He's 4-0 with one no-decision and has given up just four earned runs over the 25 innings he's pitched against them.

"He's been so good, even if it hadn't been a good outing he'd have to be considered (for the wild-card game)," manager John Gibbons said. "Bottom line we've got to get there first, then we can talk about this and that.

"We have a few guys who could pitch that game and we'd feel very good. No doubt (Sanchez) has had a tremendous year and you couldn't go wrong with him."

Sanchez (14-2) allowed just five hits to Baltimore batters Tuesday with two walks. He struck out five of the first six batters he faced and four straight to open the game.

Josh Donaldson hit his 37th homer of the season and Ezequiel Carrera, in the leadoff spot in place of an injured Devon Travis, hit a solo shot and added another RBI for the Blue Jays (87-70), who are five games back of Boston for the division lead with five to play following the Red Sox's 6-4 loss to New York later Tuesday.

Travis and reliever Joaquin Benoit were both were hurt in a benches-clearing melee against the Yankees on Monday night. Travis tweaked his shoulder and is day to day while Benoit has a calf tear and is out two to three weeks.

Sanchez called Carrera's performance in the lead-off spot "huge."

"That's what it's going to take — it's going to take 40 men to come out here and contribute and that's something we expressed in spring training," he said. "It's unfortunate that the guys went down the way they did but it gives somebody else the opportunity to step up."

Mark Trumbo drove in the lone run for the Orioles (85-72) and Kevin Gausman (8-12) allowed five runs, four earned, on seven hits and two walks while striking out five.

Donaldson put Toronto on the board in the first inning, following a Carrera lead-off walk with a two-run shot off Gausman.

The Orioles cut the deficit in half in the third when Trumbo drove in J.J. Hardy with a single but Carrera restored the two-run cushion with a solo blast, his sixth of the year, in the bottom of the frame.

Carrera added his second RBI of the night in the bottom of the fifth, plating Kevin Pillar from second with a base hit. Pillar dove head first into home as the throw from Orioles left-fielder Michael Bourn sailed just wide of the plate. Carrera advanced to second on the throw and scored on a fielders choice from an Edwin Encarnacion ground ball for a 5-1 Toronto lead.

"I just try to stay focused," Carrera said through an interpreter. "Every time I go out there I make adjustments depending on what the game is telling me and what pitchers are doing against me. I just try to get on base."

Baltimore threatened in the sixth with runners on first and second with two out but Bourn hit a deep fly ball to Carrera in left field to end the inning.

Orioles first baseman Chris Davis was ejected after exchanging words with home plate umpire Will Little following a strikeout in the seventh. Manager Buck Showalter came out of the dugout and was also tossed.

Roberto Osuna gave up back-to-back base hits to lead off the ninth but escaped the jam with a force out and a double play.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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