Major League Baseball

Young Jays aim to cool off Rockies

mlb9BLUE JAYS (21-37) AT ROCKIES (30-27)

The Toronto Blue Jays haven’t had much to cheer about lately, so the focus has been on the future.

Toronto was at the .500 mark in late April but has gone 7-23 since then to fall far out of the playoff hunt in early June. The latest struggle was a 4-2 loss to the Colorado Rockies in Denver on Saturday night that extended its losing streak to five games.

The Blue Jays wrap up the interleague series Sunday afternoon at Coors Field with right-hander Aaron Sanchez going against Rockies right-hander Antonio Senzatela.

Sanchez will get the ball despite leaving his last start, Tuesday against the host Tampa Bay Rays, with a torn nail on his right middle finger.

Sanchez has faced the Rockies once in his career, on June 29, 2016, with a dominant performance at Coors Field. He held Colorado to one run over eight innings and struck out three. That was Sanchez’s first full year in the majors and his best so far. He was 15-2 with a 3.00 ERA in 30 starts to help lead Toronto to the AL wild card.

Things haven’t gone as smoothly for him since. He started only eight games in 2017 and 20 last year, but he has found his form in the first 12 starts of 2019. He is 3-5 with a 3.75 ERA on a team that has struggled.

While they’ve fallen in the standings, the Blue Jays have brought up players they hope will be the foundation for the future. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Cavan Biggio have made a splash since arriving, as has outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

Gurriel was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo last week and had at least one extra-base hit in his first seven games.

“I’m in a great spot right now,” Gurriel told the Toronto Sun. “I feel very confident and I feel very comfortable.”

The Rockies will try for their eighth straight win and a 9-1 homestand on Sunday. Senzatela (3-4, 5.81 ERA), who has never faced Toronto, is coming off a strong start against Arizona on Tuesday, going six innings and giving up just two runs, but got a no-decision in Colorado’s 6-2 win.

Only three starters have earned the victory in the last nine games, but the Rockies are winning with a hot offense. Trevor Story is 14-for-31 and Nolan Arenado has 17 hits on the homestand. Arenado extended his hitting streak to 12 games Saturday night.

The Rockies scored 183 runs in May, which were the most in the National League and tied for fourth most in a month in team history. Colorado had 61 of those runs in the last eight games of May.

“We do have a good lineup,” manager Bud Black said after the Rockies’ 13-6 win over Toronto on Friday night. “I think it’s deep. It has speed. It has power. It has average.”

It’s also poised to get stronger with outfielder Charlie Blackmon expected back from a calf injury when Colorado goes on a six-game road trip starting Tuesday. A win in the finale of the three-game series against Toronto would send Colorado to face the Chicago Cubs four games above .500.

“It’s been really remarkable. It’s been a testament to this team,” first baseman Daniel Murphy said this week. “It’s as resilient a group I’ve ever been a part of.”

–Field Level Media

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