Sanchez calls out Blue Jays teammates for sloppy play in Angels series

Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun homered and the Los Angeles Angels completed the three-game sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays with a 6-2 win.

ANAHEIM, Calif. — A question to ponder as the Toronto Blue Jays head from scenic SoCal to anonymous Arlington, where they’re slated to open a three-game series Friday against the Texas Rangers: Is the aberration how they played during a 12-3 run before arriving in Anaheim, or is it the dismal performance in a three-game sweep by the Los Angeles Angels?
They certainly looked like an entirely different club at Angel Stadium, getting none of the pitching, defence and timely hitting they had recently enjoyed. Perhaps most troubling is their defensive sloppiness during the three losses to the Angels, which included five physical errors that ended up on the scoreboard as well as several misplays that didn’t end up in the boxscore.
“It was f–––––– brutal, to be honest,” was the blunt assessment of Aaron Sanchez, who allowed five runs, four earned, in four innings of work in Thursday’s 6-2 loss. “I mean, we played so well. We go out there and sweep Oakland who’s a pretty good team and then you come out here and just get embarrassed. It’s not fun when you go out there and guys just weren’t ready to play, I felt like. It is what it is. On to the next series. Can’t sit here and dwell on it. It won’t do us any good.”
Sanchez surrendered an average exit velocity of 92.6 m.p.h., with 11 balls put into play at 96.1 m.p.h. or higher, the hardest a 109.2-m.p.h. smash by Albert Pujols in the fourth that Brandon Drury managed to knock down and relay across the diamond for an out.
That much hard contact often leads to bad things and it did Thursday, exacerbated by the defence not taking care of the ball behind him. Sanchez felt he pitched far better than the numbers suggested, saying, “I wish I would have got some help out there. The outcome would have been a little bit different.”
Take the second inning, for example.
Pujols opened up the frame by slamming a fastball to deep right field at 97.7 m.p.h., and Alen Hanson, in the lineup to face lefty Tyler Skaggs, leaped for the ball and missed it, allowing it to go for a double. It was a difficult but makeable play, and three pitches later, Kole Calhoun sent a 102.5-m.p.h. rocket into the seats in right field to open the scoring.
The Angels pushed across another run in the third when Calhoun was walked intentionally to load the bases with two outs for Kevan Smith, who walked on five pitches to push across another run. It was the second bases-loaded walk issued by the Blue Jays in the series.
Then in the fourth, Andrelton Simmons followed consecutive two-out base hits by shooting a groundball through the right side, only for the ball to roll under Hanson’s glove, allowing both Mike Trout and Brian Goodwin to score.
“When you give guys and teams extra outs that’s what happens,” said Sanchez, who grew up in nearby Barstow and had his first career start in Anaheim truncated last year by the freak finger injury that needed surgery to repair. “The pitch count gets up, runs get lopsided. It is what it is. I felt like I had good stuff all night. I went back and watched the game inside after I came out and I felt like I did everything I wanted to do. Spin was sharp, change was good, I had life on the fastball. It was just one of those things.”
Sanchez grinded through his four innings on 89 pitches, allowing nine hits and two walks, with Tim Mayza, Sam Gaviglio and Ken Giles handling the final four innings. But with Marcus Stroman only working 3.1 frames Wednesday and Trent Thornton handling the opener in Texas on Friday, a thin bullpen may not be able to save Thomas Pannone for a spot start Saturday.
The Blue Jays aren’t certain what their Plan B is if the lefty is forced into action Friday, said manager Charlie Montoyo, which is why he’s “hoping we have a good game and then it will be Pannone on Saturday. That’s the best-case scenario.”
At the plate Thursday, things followed an all-too-familiar pattern, as they went without a hit through the first four innings for the ninth time this season and second consecutive game. A leadoff double by Drury in the fifth was their first base hit of the night, followed by a left-on-left single by Rowdy Tellez, but the inning died quickly after a Teoscar Hernandez RBI groundout.
Another promising rally in the sixth petered out quickly after a Randal Grichuk RBI double and Justin Smoak walk, as Simmons cleverly let Drury’s soft liner drop in front of him, getting a force out at second and getting Grichuk in a rundown to end the threat.
Montoyo came out to argue for an infield fly but was told the ball wasn’t high enough in the air to qualify, while Grichuk protested his case to second base umpire Tripp Gibson after being ruled out for moving too far off the baseline.
“He said once I go back, it creates a path and it’s three feet, so if you pretty much make a move to miss a tag, you’re out of it, is the way he explained it to me,” said Grichuk. “You’re stuck. Honestly, it’s one of those tricky plays that doesn’t happen often so you don’t really know what to do. I thought about going back to the bag, but he was at the bag, so if I try to touch the bag, he’s tagging me out. Get in a rundown and hope they mess it up — that’s what you’ve got to hope for there.”
In the bottom half of the frame, Trout continued to torment Blue Jays souls with a solo shot that extended the lead again, and the Angels completed their second sweep of the season.
“We didn’t really play that good,” said Montoyo. “Our pitching struggled a little bit and we didn’t make all the plays, and they played better than we did all three days, so no excuses. They just outplayed us.”
Of note is that the Blue Jays sat Vladimir Guerrero Jr., whose arrival a week ago in combination with the strong recent run had provided some energy for the clubhouse. Montoyo said the rest day was pre-planned with a night game in Anaheim to be followed by a late-night flight ahead of a game two time zones over Friday in Texas.
“Everybody’s going to get a day off here and there,” said Montoyo, rebuffing the notion the break was related to a 3-for-18 start. “It’s got nothing to do with that.”
Either way, the Blue Jays arrived in Anaheim full of optimism after reaching .500 with a remarkable comeback win against the Oakland Athletics, and leave frustrated, wondering what just happened.

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