Sánchez yields 4 HRs, focused on next start

July 28th, 2020

WASHINGTON -- entered his first start of 2020 having faced only four members of the Blue Jays' roster over his 14-year career. One of them was Teoscar Hernández, against whom Sánchez had allowed a pair of home runs in six at-bats.

Add two more to that total.

The tone of Sánchez’s 317th career regular-season start was set when he allowed a homer to Hernández in the first at-bat of the game on Monday night. The Blue Jays outfielder rocked an 88 mph cutter 413 feet to right-center to jump-start Sánchez’s pitching troubles in the Nationals' 4-1 loss.

“Those guys, they’re pretty good,” Sánchez said. “They swing hard every pitch. And Hernández, we’ve got a long history. This guy, I think, hit pretty good against me. I think I missed a couple pitches against him. When you miss pitches against the wrong guy, that’s what happens.”

Rowdy Tellez and Danny Jansen hit solo homers in the fourth, and Hernández jumped back into the mix with his second home run of the game in the next frame.

"I was trying to stay back as much as I can,” Hernández said. “I know he's a good pitcher, everybody knows that. My approach was trying to go the other way and get a pitch that I could drive to the outfield. He gave me two, and I put a good swing on them."

The four homers surrendered by Sánchez totaled 1,651 feet and averaged an exit velocity of 101.2 mph, per Statcast. The Blue Jays hit them off three cutters and a splitter. 

“He was up in the zone,” manager Dave Martinez said. “When he's really good, he gets the ball down in the zone. Those home runs -- other than one breaking ball he threw to Tellez -- all those other ones, the balls were up.”

In five innings, Sánchez allowed four runs, six hits and one walk. Along with the homers, he fanned seven over 88 pitches.

“He works his tail off to get ready in between the starts,” Martinez said. “So he'll be ready.”

Sánchez is coming off a 2019 campaign in which he went 11-8 with a 3.85 ERA in 30 starts. The four homers were the most allowed by Sánchez since Aug. 6, 2017, when he allowed a career-high five home runs against the Orioles while pitching for the Tigers.

“Baseball is so long, I don’t think baseball is going to make you by one start,” Sánchez said. “I think every pitcher is going to have a bad outing, a good outing. Every day is different. But at the end, for now, I feel good, I feel healthy. In five days, that’s what matters right now.”

The Nationals' bullpen responded with four scoreless innings to keep them within striking distance. Lefty Sam Freeman, making his Nats debut, struck out a batter in a hitless two-thirds of an inning. Javy Guerra pitched 2 1/3 clean innings and Ryne Harper struck out one in the ninth.

"I thought the bullpen did really well,” Martinez said. “Those guys come in throwing strikes, it makes a big difference."