By: Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network
Stop us if you have heard this one before.
Aaron Sanchez is impressive on the mound.
Lefty Brett Cecil is not.
And the Blue Jays lose.
It was as if some one in the video room leaned on the REPLAY button by accident while watching the third game of the season from when the Jays faced the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
Cecil took over for Sanchez in the seventh and 13 pitches later the New York Yankees had the lead.
Chase Headley lined a first pitch single the other way to left, Starlin Castro walked on four pitches, Didi Gregorius bunted the runners over on the second pitch and then Jacoby Ellsbury, looking like Roger Federer, lobbed a ball into left/no man’s land scoring Headley.
The final seven Jays went down in order as the Yankees edged the Blue Jays 3-2 before 28,819 fans at the Rogers Centre on Tuesday night.
“Let’s face it, if he’s (Cecil) not good this year that’s a big hole,” manager John Gibbons told reporters. “I’ve seen him start slow. He’ll to be fine, he’s off right now there’s no secret about that. It was kind of the same scenario last year where he was a little bit slower to start and then he picked up.
“I’m expecting the same from him this year.”
This was a premium, ticket night under the Jays new dynamic ticket pricing system.
Jays bats were not making premium contact and the offence was a long way from, dynamic.
Two singles and a double.
None after the fifth.
The Jays knew all about Andrew Miller, who recorded the save, and about Dellin Betances, who pitched 1 1/3 scoreless.
Johnny Barbato pitched a scoreless sixth and Chasen Shreve retired the two men he faced. The Jays faced Shreve last September in the Bronx when he walked three of the five hitters he faced as the Jays scored four times in the 11th for a 9-5 win.
Barbato had Jays hitters looking at each other in the dugout wondering “who is this guy?”
“First pitch 95-96 mph,” said Chris Colabello, “second pitch was a buckler ... and I usually don’t buckle on breaking balls, but it was a good one. Next pitch ... ground ball to first. Three pitches. Not a fun at bat.”
QUALITY SANCHEZ: Again Sanchez was solid. He followed up his start at Tropicana (seven innings, five hits, solo homer to Corey Dickerson, 91 pitches, a no decision) with an almost identical outing.
Sanchez worked six innings allowing two runs -- one earned -- on three hits and three walks, fanning five in his 97-pitch outing.
This time, Brian McCann hit a 3-2 pitch with two out in the sixth, a no doubter to right centre evening the score 2-2.
Don’t look now, but you can argue as to who the Jays best starter is on the morning of April 14. Is it Marco Estrada (0.00 with seven scoreless innings in one start) or Sanchez (1.38, two earned runs in 13 innings in two outings)?
“(Sanchez) is more in control than last year,” Russell Martin told reporters, “he’s a much more complete pitcher, the kind of kid that expects greatness from himself.”
Sanchez had only his own self to blame for the first run. To start matters he issued a lead-off walk to McCann after falling behind 2-0, then an out later fell behind Headley 3-0 and walked him too in the second.
The Jays decided to try to pick McCann off second. We’re not talking Maury Wills here or even McCann’s speedy pal Mark DeRosa, star of MLB Network. McCann had not swiped a base since Sept. 30, 2012 as an Atlanta Brave against the Florida Marlins ... 385 games ago.
“He was out there, bouncing, if I make a good throw, he’s out,” said Sanchez, who spun, his throw sailing into centre with McCann advancing and Headley advancing. “I had a slider grip (ready to throw to the plate) when the sign was flashed.”
Castro bounced out with the infield playing back for a 1-0 Yankees lead.
“He was off far enough to warrant a throw,” Colabello said. “you don’t blame a guy for trying to be aggressive when it comes to getting outs.”
Sanchez said “there were a couple calls that didn’t go my way but obviously being in the big leagues it shouldn’t affect you.”
IN GAME: The Jays scored their in the third and have now scored 27 runs in the first four innings ... and four in the last five inning of games this year. Tanaka plunked Kevin Pillar in the shoulder with an 0-2 pitch. Josh Donaldson singled on the first pitch and then Jose Bautista one hopped the wall on the second pitch.
The drive scored both Pillar and Donaldson. Tanaka fanned Edwin Encarnacion, walked Troy Tulowitzki and escaped retiring Colabello on a double play grounder ... Bautista walked the first time up giving him an American League leading 10 in eight games ... Second baseman Ryan Goins made a fine play on a Headley grounder to his right for the final out of the fourth with a man on base.
A NATURAL 21: Where will Stanford right-hander Cal Quantrill go in this June’s draft? Well, Baseball America has him pegged to go 21st to the Blue Jays in their first mock draft. And ESPN’s Keith Law has him ranked the 21st best talent. Quantrill underwent Tommy John surgery last March after three starts. The Port Hope resident and Ontario Terriers grad has been throwing bullpens and will soon face live hitters.