Toronto Blue Jays Aaron Sanchez meets on the mound with cacther Russell Martin in the first inning on Sunday in Toronto. (Photo by the Canadian Press)

Bullpen steps up as Jays beat Rays

TORONTO — Aaron Sanchez looked down at his finger and saw the blood a handful of pitches into his start.

All he could think about then was finishing the inning. So he did.

Sanchez threw 13 pitches, erasing a five-pitch leadoff walk with a strikeout and a double play before leaving Toronto’s 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday with a split nail on his right middle finger.

Once in the dugout, the 24-year-old Sanchez slammed his glove down on the bench in frustration and headed straight into the clubhouse with pitching coach Pete Walker.

“It was just a lot of pressure, stinging underneath the nail,” said Sanchez, who was activated from the 10-day disabled list earlier in the day.

“It’s like somebody grabbing your nail and ripping it out. It doesn’t feel good, but it’s just something we have to battle now.”

Sanchez had landed on the disabled list two weeks ago with a blister on the same finger and underwent a procedure to remove part of the nail from it.

The nail split horizontally. The procedure, done by a specialist in Kansas City, had cut the nail vertically to remove a quarter of it.

“Leading into today we didn’t think this would be an issue,” Sanchez said. “I think once you get into game mode and game speed, pressure on the nail starts to disperse in certain areas and maybe it wasn’t strong enough, honestly we don’t know.”

Sanchez also doesn’t know if he’ll have to miss his next start. The team hopes to have a better understanding on Monday after some of the swelling subsides.

In Sanchez’s absence, an unlikely hero emerged as Toronto’s bullpen, especially Ryan Tepera, helped the Blue Jays (8-17) earn their first set of back-to-back wins — and first series win — of the season.

Tepera came on in the second and cruised through 3 1/3 innings — Tampa didn’t get a hit until Ryan Miller’s leadoff single in the fifth. He had a career-high five strikeouts and left with one out in the fifth to a standing ovation from the crowd of 42,986 at Rogers Centre.

“Coming into the game I had a different mindset knowing I’d have to go multiple innings,” Tepera said. “So I told myself: ’Stay nice and easy and fluid and don’t overthrow.’ I realized it’s easier to just stay smooth and go with the delivery.

“I was able to throw the four-seam up and that was a big key for me today. That’s something that I struggle with. I either throw it way too high or it gets in the zone. So just staying nice and easy and executing pitches, it helped.”

Sanchez praised his bullpen, which has struggled lately, with holding Tampa to one run over eight innings.

Aaron Loup followed Tepera with two frames, Dominic Leone went 2/3, Joe Smith started the eighth and allowed a run before J.P. Howell (1-1) got the inning’s final out, and Roberto Osuna earned the save.

“Today (the bullpen) showed everybody who they really are and we got this big win,” Sanchez said. “Great defence behind them, timely hitting. It’s tough for me to put these guys through that but it’s just one of those situations where you didn’t know this was going to happen and they stepped up and did their part.”

The game remained scoreless until David Robertson hit a sacrifice bunt off Smith in the eighth to plate Logan Morrison from third base. Morrison walked to begin the inning and moved to third after a single and pop fly.

Jose Bautista began Toronto’s rally in the bottom of the inning with his 1,000th hit as a Blue Jay — a game-tying double off reliever Alex Colome (1-1) that nearly cleared the left-field wall.

Russell Martin followed with a base hit to right field for his fifth RBI of the season and pinch-hitter Ezequiel Carrera tacked on a run-scoring single.

“I’ll get to enjoy (the 1,000-hit milestone) when my career’s over,” Bautista said. “Hopefully I’ll get some more, but it does bring you back to the long time I’ve been here and the success that I’ve enjoyed.

“It’s always fun when you can do it when you are contributing to a win.”

Chris Archer allowed one run on four hits through 7 1/3 innings for Tampa Bay (12-14). He also had five strikeouts.

Home plate umpire Jim Wolf issued a warning to Archer after his first pitch to Bautista sailed behind the Blue Jays slugger in the first inning. Bautista glared down at Archer from the batter’s box for what felt like an eternity.

Bautista said after the game he “didn’t know” if there was intent behind Archer’s throw. Archer said there wasn’t.

“I was just trying to go inside,” he said. ”The ball got away from me a little bit.”

Just Posted

Women’s marches underway in Canadian cities, a year after Trump inauguration

Women are gathering in dozens of communities across the country today to… Continue reading

Red Deer councillor balks at city getting stuck with more funding responsibilities

Volunteer Central seeks municipal funding after being cut off by government

Olds chicken barn burns to the ground, no livestock harmed

More than 100,000 chickens were saved as fire crews prevent the blaze from spreading

Bear video meant to promote conservation: zoo owner

Discovery Wildlife Park says it will look at other ways to promote its conservation message

Red Deer’s Soundhouse closing its doors on Record Store Day

The owners of The Soundhouse want to shut down their store on… Continue reading

WATCH: Property taxes in Red Deer will go up 2.02 per cent in 2018

City council passes a “tough” budget that maintains most service levels

In photos: Get ready for Western Canadian Championships

Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Championships and Peavey Mart Alberta Cup 5/6 start… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Got milk? Highway reopened near Millet

A southbound truck hauling milk and cartons collided with a bridge

Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month