Sanchez settles down after early runs in final start
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Rajai Davis and Adam Lind each homered as the Blue Jays defeated the Pirates, 6-3, on Tuesday afternoon at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.
The Blue Jays got to Pittsburgh left-hander Jonathan Sanchez early for three runs in the first inning. J.P. Arencibia came to the plate with two men on and delivered an RBI single to right field for Toronto's first run, temporarily tying the score at 1 after the Pirates put up a run in the top of the first.
Utility man Mark DeRosa followed Arencibia with a sacrifice fly to right, and Adam Lind added an RBI double to cap the three-run inning. Sanchez was then able to settle down, with a solo home run from Davis in the fourth the only other blemish in his 4 2/3 frames.
Sanchez came back out for the fifth before departing with two outs. The 30-year-old was charged with all four runs on seven hits while striking out six and walking just one. Sanchez's start came just hours after he was informed by the Pirates that he will be on the Opening Day roster, slated to be the fourth starter in their rotation.
Toronto added another run in the sixth on a solo home run to right field by Lind. It was Lind's second homer of the Grapefruit League season and his seventh RBI in 20 games.
Left-hander Ricky Romero got the call for Toronto and had a somewhat rocky start despite some soft-hit balls early in the game. The Pirates' first-inning run came after Starling Marte led off with a soft single to right. Marte stole second, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a RBI groundout by Gaby Sanchez.
The Blue Jays lifted him with one out in the fifth after he allowed three runs -- two earned -- on six hits and three walks, throwing 44 of his 75 pitches for strikes.
It was not enough to preserve his role as Toronto's fifth starter, as the club optioned the 28-year-old after the game to Class A Dunedin, where he will continue to alter his mechanics in hopes of finding consistency.
"I still want to throw more strikes, obviously," he said. "You want to be in that zone, you want to have guys swinging at pitches. I got a little out of control in the third inning, but I felt great."
Garrett Jones led off the second with a double and Romero walked the next batter, but he escaped the inning unscathed. The Pirates put up a run an inning later via a Michael McKenry single, and another in the fourth, although it was unearned.
Jonathan Sanchez hit a two-out double off his counterpart, Romero, and advanced to third on a fielding error at first by Lind. He scored when Romero picked Marte off first base, but the Blue Jays could not tag the 24-year-old outfielder for the third out before Sanchez touched home plate.
Up next: A.J. Burnett returns to the Grapefruit League mound Wednesday as the Pirates conclude the home portion of their spring schedule with a 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Twins that will be available on pirates.com via an exclusive webcast. The Bucs' Opening Day starter last faced big leaguers on March 9, then began stretching out his arm in Minor League games, most recently throwing 101 pitches against Yankees Triple-A players on Friday.