TORONTO -- Aaron Sanchez matches up favorably against just about everybody in the league, but there's one big exception: the Orioles and, more specifically, Chris Davis.
Sanchez's struggles against Baltimore resurfaced on Friday night as he allowed five runs over 5 1/3 innings in Toronto's 6-4 loss. Sanchez surrendered three home runs, and considering the opponent, it should come as no surprise that one of those homers came off the bat of Davis.
Davis has faced Sanchez 28 times in his career. During that time, he has four home runs, two doubles, six RBIs and 10 walks. The sample size isn't that big, but with a .444 average (8-for-18) and a .643 on-base percentage, it's clear Davis has Sanchez's number -- and Toronto's starter is well aware.
"I don't know, I'm about to call him up and ask him," Sanchez said when asked why he has much difficulty against the O's slugger. "He has really good numbers off of me. I don't know if he sees me different than he sees other people. I don't know if I get predictable in counts. Just one of those guys that has stupid numbers off me."
The three home runs allowed were the second most Sanchez has allowed in his career. The most was four, which also came against the Orioles on June 12, 2016. The latest loss dropped Sanchez to 5-3 in his career against the division rival, with an ERA of 4.31. That's not terrible by any means, but considering his career mark of 2.83, it is a noticeable increase compared to the rest of the league.
Sanchez's velocity appeared to be slightly down in this outing. According to Statcast™, Sanchez's fastball topped out at 96 mph, but his average velocity on the pitch was 93.9. In his first outing of the year against Tampa Bay, Sanchez averaged 95.8 mph. That might be something to monitor in the future, but the bigger issue was a pair of hanging curveballs that Jonathan Schoop and J.J. Hardy sent out of the park.
Most of the damage came in the bottom of the fifth inning. Hardy and Schoop each homered, and in the following frame, Davis added a solo shot of his own. That quickly turned a 3-1 lead into a 5-3 deficit for the Blue Jays as they dropped to 1-9 on the season and 6 1/2 games back of first-place Baltimore.
"When you leave balls up over the middle of the plate to a good team like them, that's what they do with it," said Sanchez, who allowed five or more earned runs for the sixth time in his career. "It's not the start I wanted, but you take the good from the start and you move on."