Though he mostly keeps it in check while on the mound, few among the Blue Jays bring as much passion to the ball park as Tuesday’s starting pitcher, Aaron Sanchez.
But just as he can pitch himself in and out of a jam, that enthusiasm can result in Sanchez talking himself in and out of one as well.
Such was the case following his previous start last week in Anaheim, one in which Sanchez questioned is team’s offence and defence while describing a loss to the Angels as “bleeping brutal.”
As much as Sanchez may have been a little too pointed, he certainly had a point, as the recent Jays malaise continued Tuesday at a quiet Rogers Centre with a 3-0 loss to the Minnesota Twins.
After an arduous first inning in which he allowed two hits, two walks and threw 31 pitches, Sanchez righted himself to get seven innings in and keep the Jays within reach of the surging Twins.
Given how things have gone for the Jays of late, it was a welcome little victory.
“To go seven innings and give that bullpen a much-needed rest is my job to do,” said Sanchez, who pitched a season-high seven innings. “That was all my focus tonight.
“It’s my job. It’s what I’m here to do. It’s nice.”
Back-to-back walks in the first allowed one run and a two-run homer to Mitch Garver in the sixth essentially gave the Twins all the offence they would need.
That’s the way it’s been for the Jays offensively. Not only were they shut out on back-to-back nights, it was the MLB-high fourth blanking for the Jays this season, all of them at home.
In their past three games, the Jays have been outscored 21-2 and facing a brilliant starter in Minnesota’s Jose Berrios weren’t about to snap out of it on this night.
If the struggles continue, Jays manager Charlie Montoyo knows there’s a good chance similar bouts of frustration will be on the way. As for the frank Sanchez outburst in California, the first-year Jays skipper opted to play it down.
“That was in the heat of the moment,” Montoyo said. “He’s not the first one to do that in baseball and he won’t be the last one to do that in baseball or any other sport.
“This is an every day game, it’s a grind. Sometimes you get upset and you say stuff you don’t want to say, including me. He talked to his teammates and everything is fine.”
There is justifiable concern about the impotent Jays offence, something the team is trying to snap via any method available short of hiring a voodoo consultant.
Prior to Tuesday’s game, there was a hitters meeting with a message to essentially offer up more professional at-bats.
“They’re talking about making adjustments,” Montoyo said. “We’re chasing a lot of bad pitches, that’s for sure. It’s just not seeing the ball or the spin so we’ve been chasing a lot of balls in the dirt.
“We’re working at it. We have to make an adjustment. We still have four months left.”
Facing Berrios might not have been the most prudent time to make such fixes as the right hander won for a fifth consecutive time, allowing just four hits in six shutout innings and only one Jays base runner beyond first base.
– The Jays have been shut out in back-to-back games for the first time since July 9-10, 2015 and have now lost seven of their last eight games.
– After a three-up, three-down first, the slow-starting Jays hit an American League-low .160 batting average with only nine first-inning runs in 36 games.
YOUNG MAN’S GAME
Once again, the Jays had three rookies in the starting nine on Tuesday, bumping up them to a major league-high 130 man games played by freshmen players.
That total is far and away the most rookie use in all of MLB, with San Diego next at 112 prior to Tuesday’s contest.
Through 25 contests, that’s the most rookie use since the Jays’ inaugural season in 1977 (183.) Given the youthful lineup card he’s writing out every night, Montoyo acknowledged that flagging morale is an issue. Entering Tuesday’s game, the Jays had dropped six of seven to fall five games below .500.
TOO VLAD TO BE BAD?
From the take-a-breath department, the Jays pointed out the parallels between Vlad Guerrero Jr. and his hall of fame father, Vlad. Sr., through their first nine big-league games.
Turns out that the old man struggled some as well, hitting just .185 through that stretch compared to .152 for junior. Both had just a single extra base hit and one RBI per man.
The only difference was the walks-to-strikeouts ration with Junior drawing four talks to 10 strikeouts and Senior three to 10.
That said, Montoyo had him batting fifth in the order where Vlad Jr. was clearly befuddled by Berrios on Tuesday. He went down looking in his first at-bat as Berrios was precision-like in attacking the outside corner of the plate and followed with a pop out and a groundout to dip his batting average to .137.
Guerrero Jr. did manage a two-out single in the ninth, however, and is now 6-for-41 on the season. The single ended an 0-for-12 drought at the plate for the young phenom, who is just getting his feet wet at the big-league level.
AROUND THE BASES
Since losing three of four to the Jays at home back in April, the Twins have been on fire, reeling off wins in nine of their past 12. Overall, that had them with the second-best winning percentage in MLB (.636) trailing only the Rays at .647 and they’ve won six in a row at the Rogers Centre … Montoyo on getting tossed from the game on Monday, his first time as a big-league manager: “Now I’ve been thrown out at every level.” … Pitchers doing base-run drills prior to Tuesday’s game? Yep. With inter-league play on tap in San Francisco next week, Montoyo is getting ready.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019