Sanchez wins 10th straight, Blue Jays beat Padres 4-2
Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Aaron Sanchez (41) works against the San Diego Padres during first inning baseball action in Toronto on Monday, July 25, 2016. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)
Along the way, the Toronto right-hander is piling up innings, too – which puts the Blue Jays in a predicament: How much longer can they go before moving their best starter to the bullpen?
Sanchez pitched seven shutout innings to win his 10th consecutive decision, Kevin Pillar had three hits and the Blue Jays beat the San Diego Padres 4-2 on Monday night.
Article continues below ...
''Just a good night for me,'' Sanchez said. ''When you can command your fastball up and down, in and out, it's a fun game. That's kind of what it was tonight.''
Sanchez (11-1) became the first Blue Jays pitcher to win 10 straight since Roy Halladay won 15 decisions in a row in 2003. Halladay and Roger Clemens (1998) hold the club record.
''He was nasty today,'' San Diego's Alex Dickerson said. ''It's probably some of the best stuff I've personally seen to this point in my career.''
Sanchez has not lost since April 22 against Oakland, a span of 16 starts. An All-Star for the first time this season, he lowered his ERA from 2.87 to 2.72.
Mostly a reliever last year, Sanchez is at 132 1/3 innings – just shy of the 133 1/3 he compiled in Double-A, Triple-A and the majors in 2014.
Mindful of not overworking their young star, the Blue Jays intend to transition Sanchez back into a relief role at some point. Speculation over the decision is becoming tiresome to manager John Gibbons.
''I'm not answering that anymore,'' Gibbons said. ''If it happens, you'll know about it.''
Until then, Gibbons is enjoying watching as the 24-year-old Sanchez puts himself ''in the elite class of baseball at a young age.''
Making their first appearance in Toronto, the Padres were held scoreless until Dickerson hit a two-run homer off Bo Schultz in the ninth.
Dickerson's drive into the fifth deck extended San Diego's team-record streak of games with at least one home run to 23. The 2006 Atlanta Braves were the last National League team to homer in 23 straight games.
''Heck of a swing,'' Padres manager Andy Green said. ''He's got a lot of power.''
Roberto Osuna replaced Schultz and got two outs for his 21st save.
Pillar doubled and scored in the fifth, singled in the sixth and hit an RBI double off Matt Thornton in the eighth.
Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista was activated off the 15-day disabled list before the game. Batting leadoff and playing right field, he went 1 for 3 with a walk. Bautista had been out since injuring his left big toe when he jumped into the outfield wall June 16 at Philadelphia.
Padres right-hander Colin Rea (5-5) allowed three runs and five hits in six innings. He is winless in three starts.
San Diego recalled LHP Keith Hessler from Triple-A El Paso and optioned RHP Kevin Quackenbush to its top farm club. The Padres needed help after four relievers combined to pitch six innings in Sunday's victory at Washington.
UPTON SITS AGAIN
Padres OF Melvin Upton Jr. sat for the second straight game. Green confirmed that Upton, the subject of trade speculation, is healthy and could return Tuesday. Upton is batting .150 (3 for 20) since the All-Star break.
With a crowd of 41,483, Toronto passed the 2 million mark in home attendance. The milestone came on Toronto's 51st home date, the fastest it has reached 2 million since 1995. The Blue Jays lead the AL in average attendance.
Padres: RHP Jose Dominguez stayed in the game after being hit on the left forearm by a line drive off the bat of Devon Travis, the first batter he faced after coming on in the seventh.
Blue Jays: C Russell Martin (left knee) returned after missing three games. Martin was injured after he passed out and fell over in the shower following an extended spell in the sauna last Thursday. … OF Junior Lake was designated for assignment to make room for Bautista.
Padres: RHP Andrew Cashner (4-7, 4.79 ERA) has struck out 17 batters while walking none over his past two starts. He is 0-2 in two starts against AL opponents this season.
Blue Jays: RHP Marcus Stroman (8-4, 4.90) has won his past two decisions and is unbeaten in four starts. He's 2-0 in four starts against NL opponents.