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Blue Jays hit 3 HRs, but Sanchez's exit is costly

MLB.com @gregorMLB

ANAHEIM -- The Blue Jays hit three homers, but they lost Aaron Sanchez to a finger injury after one inning and the repercussions of that short start lingered all night.

Toronto's bullpen was hit hard, early and often, in an 8-5 loss to the Angels on Thursday night at Angel Stadium. Right-hander John Axford surrendered a pair of two-run homers, while Danny Barnes walked three over two-thirds of an inning as the Blue Jays attempted to piece together the game after another unfortunate setback.

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ANAHEIM -- The Blue Jays hit three homers, but they lost Aaron Sanchez to a finger injury after one inning and the repercussions of that short start lingered all night.

Toronto's bullpen was hit hard, early and often, in an 8-5 loss to the Angels on Thursday night at Angel Stadium. Right-hander John Axford surrendered a pair of two-run homers, while Danny Barnes walked three over two-thirds of an inning as the Blue Jays attempted to piece together the game after another unfortunate setback.

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Sanchez was limited to one inning because of a contusion on his right index finger. He suffered the injury before he arrived at the ballpark but declined to say how it happened. The Blue Jays hoped he would still be able to pitch, but after one painful inning it was clear his night would be a short one.

Sanchez exits after 1 inning with finger injury

Video: TOR@LAA: Sanchez leaves game with a finger contusion

"We took the lead, but that's one of those games. When someone goes out in the first inning, any blip is probably going to cost you," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "You know you're going to have to overextend some guys a bit. They got a couple of big homers off Ax. He has been dominating left-handers all year, and two lefties got him today."

The 25-year-old Sanchez was charged with two runs but the big blows came off Axford, who served up a two-run shot to Kole Calhoun in the fourth and another two-run shot to Luis Valbuena in the fifth. The were the first home runs by lefties Axford has allowed this season. Valbuena added a solo shot in the seventh off Preston Guilmet for the eighth multihomer game of his career.

Video: TOR@LAA: Gurriel Jr. slugs a solo shot to left-center

The bullpen's struggles overshadowed a productive night for the Blue Jays' offense. Rookie infielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who is expected to be sent back to the Minors when right-hander Sam Gaviglio returns this weekend from a paternity leave, went 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored and his third home run of the season. Randal Grichuk and Kendrys Morales also homered and Justin Smoak added an RBI double, but it wasn't enough.

"Lefties haven't been touching him all year," Gibbons said of Axford. "That's baseball. Move on. Bounce back."

The Angels had their own pitching issues, as left-handed starter Tyler Skaggs was scratched before the game because of a sore hamstring. Lefty John Lamb took his place on short notice and allowed three runs on six hits over 3 1/3 innings. The key for Los Angeles might have been the next reliever, Noe Ramirez, who tossed 2 2/3 scoreless for the win.

Video: TOR@LAA: Grichuk slugs a solo homer to right field

Toronto has now lost three of its four games against the Angels this season. The Blue Jays have also lost nine of their last 10 road games and have a 14-20 record away from Rogers Centre. Toronto will want to reverse course on that in a hurry because the club is one game into a seven-game, seven-day trip through Los Angeles and Houston.

The more pressing concern for the Blue Jays than Thursday night's loss is Sanchez's health. He will need to be reevaluated in the coming days to determine his availability for a start against the Astros early next week.

"When I got here, I showed everybody and they put ice on it right away," Sanchez said. "I still wanted to pitch. It's a big day for me. Coming back home and getting to pitch in front of my friends and family. That part sucks. But what are you going to do? I have to use my hands. ... It just sucks it happened the way it happened. I'll get whatever I need to get done on it."

SOUND SMART
The Blue Jays lost for just the second time this season when scoring five or more runs. Toronto entered play 28-1 when scoring at least five, giving it the highest winning percentage in the American League, second in the Majors to Arizona (27-0).

HE SAID IT
"I feel for the kid, because I love the kid. He had that tough year last year. He was coming off the ERA king in the American League, which is very difficult to do. He had those finger issues last year and he had been pitching pretty good lately. Hopefully this isn't a big deal and the finger calms down." -- Gibbons, on Sanchez

UP NEXT
Right-hander Marco Estrada (4-6, 4.66 ERA) will take the mound when the Blue Jays continue this four-game series at 10:07 p.m. ET on Friday night. Estrada is on a bit of a roll, having allowed three earned runs over his last three starts. He went at least six innings in each of those starts and has walked just three batters over his last 18 2/3 innings. The Angels will counter with left-hander Andrew Heaney (3-5, 3.64).

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays