Aníbal Sánchez returned from a stint on the Injured List for a left hamstring injury with six scoreless innings against Atlanta in SunTrust Park and followed up on that outing with 5 1⁄3 strong against Chicago at home in the nation’s capital in which he gave up four hits and a run.
“He was really good,” Washington Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez told reporters after a second-straight 80-pitch appearance for Sánchez in a 6-4 win over the White Sox in which the righty received no decision.
“I talked to him about staying in that 80-pitch range, which, he was right on the money.”
Taking on the Sox for the second time in a week on the South Side of Chicago on Monday, the 35-year-old, 14-year veteran tossed five scoreless on just 49 pitches, working around a single and a walk as the Nationals jumped out to a 3-0 lead.
Leury García got Sánchez in the sixth, hitting a 2-0 cutter out to center field for a solo shot that made it a 3-1 game.
Sánchez gave up a leadoff single in the seventh, on his 69th pitch, and the Nationals went to the pen at that point...
Aníbal Sánchez’s Line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HR, 69P, 48 S, 9/5 GO/FO.
Tanner Rainey finished off the seventh, Tony Sipp threw a scoreless bottom of the eighth, and Trevor Rosenthal worked a scoreless ninth in his return to the mound in the majors as Sánchez earned his second win of the season in what ended up a 12-1 win.
“This is who I saw last year, watching him,” Martinez said after the Nats’ third win in three games with the Sox, of the pitcher who signed a 2-year/$19M deal with Washington over the winter after a bounce-back season in Atlanta in 2018.
“Just keeping the ball down, getting a lot of early swings, and just working in and out with his fastball and mixing in his breaking pitches. But he’s been really good. I mean, I hope he continues to understand that he’s not a strikeout guy, he’s a guy that just gets contact, and weak contact.”
Sánchez generated just two swinging strikes on the night, got 12 called strikes, and of the 20 balls put in play, nine were ground ball outs, and only four went for hits.
“When I get early contact, that’s good for me,” Sánchez told reporters, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, after lowering his ERA to 3.92 in 12 starts and 59 2⁄3 IP on the season.
“You get quick outs. I like that situation. ... I’m just trying to get ahead in the count. That’s helped me before, and it’s helping me right now.”
Martinez lifted him after just 69 pitches this time out, bringing Rainey on for a seven-pitch, six-strike appearance.
“I want [Sánchez] through September, so he was doing good, and we had the lead and it was a good spot for Rainey right there as well.”