SPORTS

Aaron Sanchez delivers solid start as Blue Jays top Mariners to avoid sweep

05/24/2015 04:06 EDT | Updated 05/24/2016 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - Aaron Sanchez is getting more comfortable with each outing on the mound.

The Blue Jays right-hander, making just his ninth career start, had another solid performance on Sunday as Toronto defeated the Seattle Mariners 8-2.

"It's been flowing and we're just kind of running with it," Sanchez (4-4) said after going 6-2/3 innings.

The 22-year-old was coming off a career high 7-1/3 innings start on Tuesday. He said that ever since his third start of the season, a win over the Baltimore Orioles in April, "things just kind of started rolling."

"It's about minimizing the damage as much as you can and keeping these guys in the game," Sanchez said. "That's my job. Keep this team in the game and give them a chance to score some runs."

That's how things unfolded Sunday. Sanchez surrendered a leadoff homer to Kyle Seager in the second inning but then kept the Mariners off the scoreboard until he was chased from the game in the seventh. Toronto (20-26) was also able to avoid a three-game sweep in its series against the Mariners (20-23).

Ryan Goins and Edwin Encarnacion hit two-run homers in the fifth inning off Seattle starter Taijuan Walker (1-5), who had held the Blue Jays hitless through the first four innings.

The Blue Jays added four more runs in the seventh inning to blow the game open and win for just the third time in the past 12 games. Toronto is 0-3-1 in its last four series.

"He just gets better and better," Toronto manager John Gibbons said of Sanchez. "You see it in every start. A big part of that, I think, is because he's cut down on the walks."

Sanchez walked two, struck out four and gave up seven hits in a 97-pitch performance.

"He looks more comfortable. You can see it on his face, too," Gibbons said.

Jose Bautista sat out Sunday's game after receiving a cortisone shot in his right shoulder. Bautista has been nursing a sore shoulder and not playing in the outfield since injuring it in a game on April 21.

Gibbons said Bautista is "day-to-day" and might miss Monday's game against the Chicago White Sox at Rogers Centre.

Shortstop Jose Reyes is expected to be activated off the 15-day disabled list prior to the series opener against Chicago. Reyes went on the disabled list April 28 with a left rib fracture.

On Sunday, it was Reyes' replacement, Goins, who provided the key momentum swing for Toronto. He brought home Kevin Pillar by pounding a fastball from Walker off the back wall of the Mariners bullpen. It was the first homer of the season for Goins and the fourth of his career.

"I just put a good swing on it and got lucky," Goins said. He also drew a bases-loaded walk in a four-run seventh inning, one of two free passes on the day.

Gibbons said that home runs is not the usual expectation from Goins but the drive gave Toronto a big boost.

"His defence is what it is, very good," Gibbons said. "It doesn't matter where you put him out there. Offensively, he's gotten better. I think a big part of that is he's more comfortable now.

"He feels like he belongs."

Four batters after Goins' homer, Encarnacion drilled a 3-2 fastball from Walker into the second deck over the left centre-field fence for a two-run shot to make it 4-1. It was his team-leading 12th home run of the season and eighth over the past 16 games.

Roberto Osuna, Aaron Loup and Liam Hendriks combined to pitch 2-1/3 innings of scoreless relief.

Notes — Attendance at Rogers Centre was 37,929 fans at Rogers Centre.

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