Blue Jays-Rockies preview
DENVER -- The Toronto Blue Jays finally won a game at Coors Field. Now they can try to win a series there.
The Blue Jays collected a season-high 18 hits as they beat the Colorado Rockies 14-9 Tuesday night. The game ended at 1:12 a.m. MDT, almost exactly 12 hours before the teams are due to begin the rubber game of their three-game series at 1:10 p.m.
Tyler Anderson will make his fourth career start for the Rockies, his first in an interleague game. The 26-year-old rookie left-hander is 0-1 with a 2.55 ERA and has not allowed a home run in 17 2/3 innings in outings against the San Diego Padres, Miami Marlins and the Arizona Diamondbacks. He faced San Diego and Arizona at home.
The Rockies' first-round pick and 20th player taken overall in the 2011 draft, Anderson has been compared with former Rockies left-hander Jeff Francis. When he was rising through the minors and overcoming injuries, Anderson earned a reputation for being poised and cerebral on the mound and wise beyond his years.
Having seen him briefly, Rockies manager Walt Weiss agrees with that assessment.
"You have to take into account that he's doing it in the heat of the battle," Weiss said. "It's one thing to do it from the sidelines and do it in your bullpen sessions or in the dugout when you're charting or in the minor leagues.
"I hadn't been around him in the minor leagues, but I heard all those reports about him. To come up here and to be able to just plug him right in -- he still responds that way. He seems to be one of those guys who's in complete control of his surroundings. As a young pitcher, you don't see that. He's been as good as advertised."
Anderson will be opposed by Aaron Sanchez, who is 7-1 with a 3.24 ERA this year. He has pitched at least six innings in 13 of 15 starts, compiling 93 strikeouts and 32 walks in 97 1/3 innings.
Sanchez, a supplemental first-round pick by the Blue Jays and the 34th player taken overall in the 2010 draft, is 5-0 with a 2.48 ERA in nine road starts. He has been nearly as effective against right-handed batters -- they are hitting .246 with a .622 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 187 plate appearances -- as against left-handers --.242 average, .727 OPS in 220 plate appearances.
When he broke in with the Blue Jays in 2014, Sanchez pitched 24 games in relief and didn't start. Last year, he began the season in the rotation but went on the disabled list with a right lat strain June 15. When he returned July 24, Sanchez worked out of the bullpen.
Asked how he benefited from relieving, Sanchez said, "Just attacking guys, coming in understanding that out of the 'pen, you got to get outs as fast as you can. As a starter, you kind of get that luxury of finding a pitch if you don't have it early on. Out of the 'pen, you got to come in pounding the zone, attacking hitters and getting outs quick."
Sanchez snapped his fingers for emphasis as he finished that sentence.
This will be Sanchez's first start at Coors Field. When Tuesday night's game was delayed 2 hours, 41 minutes by a storm that pelted the field with a coating of hail, the Blue Jays sent Sanchez back to their hotel so he could get a decent night's sleep. He wasn't there in person to see a game that produced 23 runs and 32 hits as Coors Field lived up to its reputation as a nightmarish place to pitch and a wonderful place to hit.
"I'm definitely looking forward to pitching here," Sanchez said before Tuesday's game. "Yeah, you hear everything, you see guys' numbers, but it is what it is. But I can't come into a start fretting (over) something like that. I got to go out there and pitch my game and continue to do what I do best, and that's try to keep the ball on the ground."