On Sunday, Aaron Sanchez celebrated his 20th birthday by recording his seventh win. Five nights later, he followed it up with the longest outing of his career.
The Blue Jays' No. 7 prospect established career highs with eight strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings Friday, allowing one run on one hit, as Class A Lansing routed Great Lakes, 15-2.
It was the third straight start of at least five innings for Sanchez, who's been allowed to start working deeper into games after he went primarily three or four innings earlier in the year.
"We started off a little slow, going three [innings], then four and now five. Hopefully, I can continue to go a little longer," said Sanchez. "It was nice to finally get to five innings and it seems to be working well. Tonight, they gave me the luxury of being out there after the fifth."
Sanchez (8-0) has been brought along carefully by Toronto, which selected him with the 34th overall pick in the 2010 Draft out of Barstow (Calif.) High School. He had only two other outings of at least five innings this season after making six such starts last year.
The right-hander said he appreciates the way the Blue Jays have brought him along.
"I give a lot of credit to [Lansing pitching coach] Vince Horsman and the five days that we work together in between starts. I really think it's paying off," Sanchez said. "I'm a young guy, only turned 20 a week ago, so I know [the Blue Jays] have a plan with me and I want to stick with that, get stretched out and keep it going."
Sanchez recorded two outs in the sixth but walked the bases loaded before giving way to Kramer Champlin, who pitched the final 3 1/3 innings for his first professional save.
Sanchez improved to 8-0 with a 0.72 ERA that would easily lead the Midwest League had he enough innings to qualify. In 17 games, including 10 starts, he's recorded 70 strikeouts while walking 34 batters over 62 2/3 innings.
Lansing made things easier for Sanchez, staking him to an 8-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Kevin Patterson led the 17-hit attack, going 3-for-5 with a pair of homers, a double, six RBIs and two runs scored.
Patterson's second homer was described as one of the longest in the history of Cooley Law School Stadium.
"That felt good. I got a full-count changeup and I swung through it. He just left it up over the plate and I put a good swing on it and connected," said Patterson, whose blast reached the street beyond the right-field patio area.
"It's always fun to have a night like this."
No. 12 Jays prospect Chris Hawkins went 4-for-4, fell a homer short of the cycle, scored four times and drove in three runs. Leadoff man Kenny Wilson chipped in three hits and three runs scored, while Andy Fermin was 3-for-5 with a triple and an RBI.
"It was just one of those nights," said Patterson. "Yesterday was a tough day for us -- we only had four or five hits -- and today was a new day. We came out swinging and were able to put some good at-bats together.
"You put good swings on pitches and good things happen. It was a lot more fun today to bust out."