Aaron Sanchez facing the San Francisco Giants he pitched for in 2021 in his first start of ‘22 with the Washington Nationals wasn’t planned, but it worked out that way for the 29-year-old pitcher, as manager Davey Martinez explained before the right-hander debuted with the Nats, after signing this past March and starting the year at Triple-A Rochester.
“It was just strictly the way it lined up, one,” Martinez said, “and also two, I feel like he is a good matchup against that team, and like I said, he’s been throwing the ball well, and he was up — the last time out he threw five innings, 72 pitches, he’s been stretched out to 90 pitches, so there’s no limitation today on what he can do, so we’ll see how the game goes.”
Sanchez ended up throwing just 64 pitches in 4 1⁄3 IP against the Giants, giving up six hits, a walk, and four earned runs in a 5-2 loss for his new team.
The overall results weren’t what he wanted, but after dealing with injuries in recent years, the starter said he was just happy to feel good on the mound.
Sanchez underwent surgery to repair a torn capsule in his right shoulder, which kept him from pitching in the majors in 2020’s 60-game COVID campaign, and had a right biceps issue which limited him to nine games (seven starts) and 35 1⁄3 IP for the Giants in 2021, but the Nationals apparently felt with his experience, and relatively young age, he was worth the gamble. His thoughts after facing his former team?
“Thrill,” Sanchez said. “I loved it. It’s the perfect story for me. To be back up here, the following year, and the first start against those guys. So, just fun to get out there and compete.”
He approached it like any other outing, however, with no additional emotion involved.
“No different, obviously, first-pitch strike, stay on the attack, limit the walks, limit the damage, if I’m keeping the ball on the ground that means my stuff is playing, so I mean, really basic.”
Did he think he had an advantage since he knows the Giants’ hitters well, or did they have an edge after playing behind him for the time he was on the mound last summer?
“Baseball is baseball,” he said. “You still got to execute pitches, they still got to make good swings. Granted there is familiarity there, but at the end of the day I still got to my job and they got to do their job, so hats off to them for putting the bat on the ball and making things happen.”
He said more than anything he was just happy to be back on the mound in the majors.
“I’m thankful for Washington for giving me that opportunity,” he said. “Last few years, if you look at some of my numbers on paper, some teams had written me off, and these guys gave me a chance to put a jersey back on, and not only put a jersey on, but to be back in the big leagues, so I can’t thank Washington enough, I can’t say enough good things about them.”
Going up against the Giants again last night, Sanchez put together another solid outing.
Back in San Francisco, CA’s Oracle Park, Sanchez took the mound with a 1-0 lead, courtesy of a solo home run by Juan Soto, and he worked around a 2-out single in a scoreless first, but gave up a two-out single and a two-run homer by Giants’ CF Austin Slater and infielder Jason Vosler, respectively.
Slater singled to start the Giants’ fifth, took third on a one-out single by Joey Bart, and came in on a sac fly by Luis González, which made it a 5-3 game after five, with Sanchez up to 71 pitches after the 13-pitch bottom of the inning, and when the Nationals added four runs to go up 9-3 after 5 1/2, Martinez went to the bullpen for reliever Austin Voth in what ended up a 14-4 win.
Aaron Sanchez’s Line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 Ks, 1 HR, 71 P, 51 S, 5/3 GO/FO.
Sánchez picked up just five swinging strikes, four with his sinker, but he did generate 19 called strikes, 12 with the sinker.
“I’m very happy to be where I am,” Sanchez told reporters, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman after the Nats snapped an eight-game losing streak with last night’s win. “There’s been a lot of hard work, but I always knew there was a lot left in the tank. I’m in a great situation with everyone here. I said it before, and I’ll say it again: I’m very thankful to be where I’m at. I can’t say enough great things about this organization and the people around here.”