By ROBERT MACLEOD
Thursday, June 20, 2019
TORONTO -- If it's not finger issues for Aaron Sanchez, then it's control problems.
Perhaps the two go hand in hand, so to speak.
On Wednesday night at Rogers Centre, the hard-luck right-hander was back on the mound for the Toronto Blue Jays, trying to figure it all out.
When Mike Trout is on the other side, that can often be a dicey proposition, as Sanchez was soon to discover.
The game's top player had himself a night, with two of his three hits going for home runs while driving in a career-high seven as the Los Angeles Angels had their way with the sloppy Blue Jays, who committed three errors that helped the Angels make off with an 11-6 victory.
Trout's evening included a grand slam in the fourth inning that broke open a 3-3 ballgame along with the back of Sanchez, who would exit the game shortly thereafter. In the first three games of the series, Trout has hit .538 (seven for 13) with three home runs and 10 runs batted in.
It was the second consecutive early dismissal for Sanchez, who had been expected to be a cornerstone of the Blue Jays rotation this season.
Instead, Sanchez has been more like a millstone around the team's neck, with the setback extending his streak of losing decisions to eight, the longest such skid of his career. His record on the year sank to 3-9, his earned-run average now up to 5.49.
The loss was Toronto's seventh in a row at home as the Blue Jays' record dipped to 26-48. L.A. improved to 38-37 with the win.
Justin Upton also homered in the L.A.
victory, while Rowdy Tellez swatted two in Toronto's losing effort, raising the rookie's total to 13 on the year while accounting for four of the Blue Jays runs.
Sanchez lasted just three innings in his last outing on Friday in Houston, where he got slapped around for eight runs off six hits. Against L.A., he weathered 3.2 innings and allowed seven runs (six earned) off nine hits.
This is the third consecutive season that Sanchez has struggled with finger issues on his throwing hand, although Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said before the game that Sanchez came out of his last start with all his digits in working order.
Still, the persistent problem has prevented Sanchez from building on the promise of the 2016 season, when he won the AL earned-run title with a 3.00 mark while going 15-2 and making the all-star team.
That season he logged 192 innings pitched, but he hasn't come close to matching that since.
This season, Sanchez hasn't had to miss any starts due to blisters or fingernail problems. But in three separate games he has been forced from the mound early when finger issues flared up, most recently on May 27 against Tampa Bay.
Sanchez's effectiveness has also been hampered by control problems. He entered Wednesday's game with 43 walks through 75 innings pitched, the thirdhighest total in the AL.
Sanchez added two more walks to his total on Wednesday and his pitch count was up to 85 when he departed in the fourth.
Montoyo said the on-again, off-again nature of Sanchez's finger woes this year has played havoc with the pitcher getting into a groove on the mound.
"He hasn't had five straight starts of consistent work," Montoyo said before the game. "So whenever he gets to that point he'll get it."
The Toronto Blue Jays' Lourdes Gurriel Jr. takes evasive action while Los Angeles Angels catcher Jonathan Lucroy is unable corral the pitch on Wednesday. The Angels won 11-6 to register their sixth straight victory over the Blue Jays this season.
TOM SZCZERBOWSKI/GETTY IMAGES