One day after leapfrogging the Baltimore Orioles to grab a half-game lead in the AL East, the Toronto Blue Jays sent current Cy Young favourite Aaron Sanchez to the mound for a shot at the series sweep. The Orioles countered with their best starter, Chris Tillman, against whom several Blue Jays’ hitters have had success. The Jays struck first in the bottom of the second, when Russell Martin’s double came around to score after a single by Kevin Pillar and a fielder’s choice. The Jays threatened again in the third with a leadoff double by Jose Bautista, but Tillman pitched himself out of it with strikeouts of Josh Donaldson and Michael Saunders as well as a groundout by Edwin Encarnacion. The bottom of the fourth got off to a bang when Troy Tulowitzki launched his 18th home run of the season, a monster shot off the façade of the fifth deck. Sanchez, who cruised through four innings, ran into a spot of trouble in the fifth when he gave up a two-out walk followed by a single, but got a pop up to end the inning.
Jays fans held their collective breaths in the sixth inning when Troy Tulowitzki took an errant pitch off his right thumb, and although he came back out on defense in the seventh inning, he subsequently had to leave the game. Sanchez, who appeared several times in the game to be bothered by the middle finger of his pitching hand, appeared mortal when a lead-off walk to Chris Davis followed by a double to Mark Trumbo both came around to score, tying the game at two runs apiece. Noted Jays’ rival Darren O’Day came in to pitch the bottom of the seventh, setting up yet another showdown between him and Jose Bautista. Bautista would draw a walk, but that was all the Jays could manage off of O’Day. Neither team could muster up a run until the top of the twelfth, when Franklin Morales (who may have just played his last game as a Blue Jay (led off the inning with a walk to Pedro Alvarez, who promptly took second base on a balk and then scored on a double by Jonathan Schoop. Jesse Chavez would then come into the game with two runners on base and promptly surrendered the death blow, a three-run shot to give the Orioles a 6-2 lead that would end up being the final score.
Top Play of the Game by WPA
No surprise that the top play of the game by WPA (.281) was Jonathan Schoop’s single to left field to score Pedro Alvarez, giving the Orioles the go-ahead and eventual winning run of the game.
Bottom Play of the Game by WPA
The Blue Jays had an opportunity to score in the bottom of the eleventh when, with one out, Russell Martin drew a walk. That walk was erased when Kevin Pillar hit into an inning-ending double play, providing the bottom play of the game by WPA (-.134).
Troy Tulowitzki Day-to-Day
Shortly after the game concluded, the team announced that Troy Tulowitzki has a small chip fracture in his right thumb. As of now, the team is hoping that he can avoid a stint on the disabled list.
Aaron Sanchez Surpasses Career Innings Total
Early in the game, Aaron Sanchez surpassed his previous career high of 133.1 innings pitched, thus ensuring that each subsequent innings pitched would represent a new career high. It also brought to the forefront once again the debate as to whether or not he should be moved to the bullpen. Sanchez, who was seeking his tenth straight winning decision, threw seven innings of two-run ball, lowering his AL league-leading ERA to 2.71. His velocity was a notch or two below his average of 94.7 mph, which could have been been related to whatever difficulty his finger may have been causing him.
The Blue Jays, who now sit a half-game behind the Orioles for first place, depart for a seven-game road trip beginning with a visit to Minute Maid Park to take on the Houston Astros. First pitch tomorrow is at 8:10 ET.
Lead Photo: Nick Turchiaro-USA Today Sports