Colabello takes full advantage of rally opportunity
Singles with bases loaded in ninth, Sanchez earns the win, Osuna the save as Jays fight back for victory
SEATTLE— The situation on Saturday in the ninth inning at Safeco Field seemed painfully familiar, but the result was decidedly different in a positive way for the Blue Jays.
With the bases-loaded and nobody out against M’s right-hander Carson Smith, Chris Colabello grounded a single through a drawn-in infield to score a pair, leading to an 8-6 win and a split of the first two games.
On Wednesday in Oakland, the Jays had loaded the bases with nobody out in the ninth and only managed one run to tie before losing in the bottom of the inning. The effort still rankled manager John Gibbons three days later. But this was the redemption song for Gibbons and the Jays, now back above .500.
“Any win is a good one, but they’re always a little bit sweeter when you grind it out,” Colabello said.
“Today was a grinder day. They’re character wins. Whenever you’re behind halfway through the game, sixth inning, whatever . . . you keep clawing and scratching. Wins like this are always a little bit sweeter. It reminds me of the one in Boston when we were down 8-0.”
Aaron Sanchez had been expecting to get an inning in Saturday’s game just to get his feet wet back in the bullpen, back in the majors.
He was activated before the game with Steve Delabar optioned to Triple-A Buffalo.
“I didn’t pitch well. Once again I was really lucky. Our bullpen, our offence to win in spite of me.” JAYS’ DREW HUTCHISON
But when Ezequiel Carrera crushed a two-run pinch-hit homer in the eighth off Fernando Rodney, Sanchez’s first game back became extreme, high leverage, and he was credited with the win. No matter, and even though it’s not as a starter the 23-year-old is fine with his new, yet familiar role.
“I’m thankful to be here and be back in the big leagues, whether it be in the starting rotation or in the bullpen,” Sanchez said. “This team needs a guy down there. Obviously we’ve been scuffling and if they feel that I can go down and help these guys out, then that’s what I’m here for. I want to win. “That’s everybody’s mindset.” Sanchez, who battled his control and command all during his rehab stint in Buffalo, went to a full count on the first three M’s batters in the eighth, with Chris Taylor chopping a slow roller in front of Josh Donaldson for a one-out single. He was reaching up to 99 m.p.h. on the radar gun. Sanchez escaped the inning with a leaping catch by Donaldson on a line drive by Austin Jackson.
“I love the way it turned out, I really like the way it looked,” Gibbons said of his new-look bullpen with back-to-back relievers that throw between 95-99 m.p.h. “Even if we add a couple of more (runs) on there, (Bo) Schultz is coming in. So I really like the potential of it.”
For the Jays’ flu-ridden starter, Drew Hutchison, this was as close as he would ever get to a home game on the road. With a partisan Canadian crowd cheering him on at Safeco, it was a chance for the 24-year-old — who had been pushed back twice because of an illness that began in Oakland — to try to start reversing a road trend that saw him with an ERA of 8.81 in 10 starts.
For the M’s, Saturday’s starter was left-hander J.A. Happ, facing his former team for the first time since the off-season deal that brought outfielder Michael Saunders to the Jays. Happ failed to make it through two and exited trailing 3-1. In the second, he allowed four walks, two with the bases loaded, and hit a batter. He needed 52 pitches to get five outs, giving way to Vidal Nuno.
Meanwhile, Hutchison allowed one run in each of the first three innings, leading to a tie game in the fourth. His tenuous grip on his first start in eight days crashed and burned in the fourth inning. After two quick Mariners’ outs, he yielded a harmless single to Kyle Seager, then on a 1-1 pitch hit Nelson Cruz in the left elbow, bringing Robinson Cano to the plate, who promptly drove a home run to left.
“I didn’t pitch well,” Hutchison said. “Once again I was really lucky. Our bullpen, our offence to win in spite of me. The most frustrating probably was the fourth inning. I started to get going there, had two quick groundball outs. Had two strikes and gave up a hit, hit the next guy, then gave up the home run. Obviously I started to get it going a little bit, then to do that was something you can’t do.”
In the sixth inning, with two out, Devon Travis and Jose Reyes hit back-to-back doubles, producing the fourth Jays run, that proved to be vital bringing the game to within Carrera territory. In the ninth, Jose Bautista lashed an important double into the right field corner setting up the two-run winning rally. It was the 36th straight game vs. the M’s in which he reached base.