Blue Jays-Diamondbacks preview
PHOENIX -- Toronto first baseman Edwin Encarnacion has made a living out of driving baseballs out of Chase Field in the few opportunities interleague play has provided, and he will have one more chance Wednesday.
His potent bat and the strong arm of Aaron Sanchez halted the Diamondbacks and their two-game winning streak in a 5-1 victory Tuesday, but Arizona will retaliate with left-hander Patrick Corbin in an attempt to get a split in the short two-game set. Corbin beat the Jays in Toronto on June 21.
Encarnacion, who leads the major leagues with 84 RBIs, has nine homers in 66 plate appearances in 16 career games at Chase Field. His three-run homer in the third inning Tuesday gave Sanchez a 3-1 lead that he never lost.
He hit five homers in a three-game series here in 2010, including three in one game, and had two homers in a three-game series in 2013, the last times Toronto has been in Arizona. He has 16 RBIs in 16 games at Chase Field.
"I see the ball real well and I feel confident in this ball park, so it works out," Encarnacion said. "Maybe it's the hitter's eye, I don't know."
Encarnacion will be a free agent when his four-year, $37 million contract expires this winter, and Chase Field might provide a welcome home, except for the fact that four-time All Star Paul Goldschmidt is a fixture at first.
"If they had average Joe, they might sign (Encarnacion)," Toronto manager Jon Gibbons said. "I don't know what it is, but he likes hitting here."
Hitters on both sides often have talked about the good visibility provided by the 40-foot green fence in dead center field.
Toronto right-hander Marcus Stroman will oppose Corbin on Wednesday as the Jays look to win for the 11th time in 15 games. Stroman is 7-4 with a 5.15 ERA in his first full season in the rotation. He missed most of last season with a knee injury suffered in spring training.
The series matches Encarnacion and Arizona third baseman Jake Lamb, two of the hottest hitters in the majors. Since June 10, Encarnacion is hitting .333 with nine doubles, 13 homers, 37 RBIs and a .765 slugging percentage. Only Lamb has a higher slugging percentage (.844) in the same span. Lamb, the reigning NL player of the week, was 0-for-4 Tuesday.
Sanchez commanded both sides of the plate with his fastball and made his best pitchers when it was most appropriate, although that is not unusual for him this season. The D-backs were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position, scoring their lone run on a groundout.
Opponents are hitting .189 against him with runners in scoring position, best on a stingy staff. Opponents are hitting .198 against both R.A. Dickey and J.A. Happ.
Sanchez has thrown 125 1/3 innings this season, eight short of his career high at several levels in 2014, and it seems to only a matter of time until the Jays move him to the bullpen in an attempt to save his innings.
"It's something I can't control," Sanchez said. "I'm going to go out there and take the ball every five days until they tell me not to. That's all I'm worried about really. When the time comes, then we'll have to worry about it. For now, just continue to do what I have been doing."