Blue Jays beat Kansas City Royals 6-2
Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis, left, throws to first after tagging out Kansas City Royals' Alcides Escobar during third inning MLB baseball action, in Toronto on Monday, July 4, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Melissa Couto, The Canadian Press
Published Monday, July 4, 2016 11:25PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, July 4, 2016 11:31PM EDT
TORONTO - Aaron Sanchez is pitching like he wants to stay in the Blue Jays rotation. Even if that decision isn't up to him.
The 24-year-old right-hander threw eight sparkling innings of one-run ball as Toronto topped the Royals 6-2 on Monday in the teams' first meeting since Kansas City's Game 6 win in last year's American League Championship Series.
The victory improved Toronto to 46-39 and stretched Sanchez's winning streak to eight straight decisions.
But while Sanchez (9-1) has been a sturdy force in the Blue Jays' starting five, he could soon land in the bullpen on a potential innings limit.
“That decision's out of my hands,” Sanchez said. “As long as I'm in the rotation I'm going to continue to do what I can do and control what I can control. Hopefully we sit down and talk about it, but like I said, that's out of my hands, there's nothing I can do with that.”
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons had previously stated that Sanchez would be moved to the relief corps at some point in the season. He maintained that stance before Monday night's game.
“I don't know if anything's changed, we don't know when that time is going to come,” Gibbons said. “The good part of it, if it happens, he makes our bullpen better too.”
“There's talk out there that there's different feelings,” Gibbons added. “I don't know, I would anticipate (the move).”
Hours later, Sanchez allowed one run on three hits while striking out three to record his fourth straight quality start.
In all, 14 of his 17 total starts have been quality starts, tying him for the most in baseball with San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner, L.A. Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw and Jon Lester of the Chicago Cubs.
Sanchez didn't even allow a hit to the Royals until the fifth inning when third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert singled with two out.
“I think a little bit of everything (was working),” Sanchez said. “Early on, I really didn't go to my changeup. I felt like it was effective late. (My) curveball was good early, OK late. But any time I get depth on my sinker it's always a good night for me.”
Josh Donaldson and Darwin Barney each hit two-run singles in a five-run seventh inning and Devon Travis tacked on an RBI with a bases-loaded walk. Michael Saunders had an RBI groundout in the first.
Kendrys Morales and Eric Hosmer hit solo homers for the Royals (43-39) and Edinson Volquez (7-8) shouldered the loss after allowing four runs on four hits through six-plus innings.
Volquez got off to a rough start, walking Ezequiel Carrera and Josh Donaldson - the first two batters he faced. Carrera advanced to third on an Edwin Encarnacion force out and scored on the groundout from Saunders.
Encarnacion got the game's first hit in the fourth inning - a lead-off single to right-centre field. He was later tagged out at home while trying to score from second base on a Kevin Pillar base hit.
“Both pitchers were really on top of their game,” Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Sanchez allowed a game-tying solo shot to Morales in the seventh but the Blue Jays opened the floodgates in the bottom of the inning.
Volquez hit Pillar with a pitch to load the bases with nobody out after a walk to Russell Martin and a single from Troy Tulowitzki.
Luke Hochevar promptly replaced the Royals starter and walked Travis to bring home the tiebreaking run. Barney followed with a two-run single to centre field to extend Toronto's lead to 4-1 and Donaldson brought home two more with a base hit to right.
“We caught a break when Pillar got hit, kind of opened things up but shoot, (Volquez) was good,” Gibbons said. “We took advantage late, a key walk by Travis, big hit by Barney and Josh padding it a little bit, but that wasn't an easy game.”
Brett Cecil allowed a two-out solo homer to Hosmer in the ninth.
NOTES: Attendance was 36,438. ... Toronto right-hander Marco Estrada received cortisone shots to his sore back on Monday. He's hopeful he'll make his next start on Thursday against Detroit. ... The Blue Jays and Royals continue their three-game series on Tuesday. R.A. Dickey (5-9, 4.21 earned-run average) will start for Toronto while Chris Young (2-7, 6.24 ERA) counters for Kansas City.