Aaron Sanchez will likely have friends and family in the stands when the Toronto Blue Jays open a four-game series at the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday night.
Sanchez will also have plenty of motivation to keep the Blue Jays rolling.
A right-hander who grew up in a desert community halfway between Los Angeles and Las Vegas Youth Jalyn Holmes Jersey , Sanchez is scheduled to make his first major league start at Angel Stadium in the series opener.
Sanchez (3-5, 4.35 ERA) was a supplemental first-round draft pick of the Blue Jays out of Barstow (Calif.) High School in 2010. The Angels had three picks before Sanchez was chosen, and the organization had twice drafted Sanchez’s stepfather, Mike Shipley, in the 1970s, but they opted to take infielder Kaleb Cowart with the 18th overall pick, reliever Cam Bedrosian at No. 29 and outfielder Chevy Clarke at No. 30.
Four picks later, the Blue Jays nabbed Sanchez.
Cowart continues to struggle to break into the majors with the Angels, Bedrosian hasn’t performed up to expectations either, and Clark is currently playing independent ball for the Cleburne Railroaders.
Sanchez, meanwhile, made his major league debut in July 2014, was chosen to the American League All Star team while going 15-2 in 2016, and his 3.00 ERA that season led the AL.
Sanchez has faced the Angels (39-35) three times in his career, but his only two starts came in Toronto (34-29). He’s 0-1 overall against Los Angeles with a 2.03 ERA. He threw one inning of scoreless relief at Angel Stadium in 2015.
Sanchez is 1-0 with a 2.95 ERA in three starts this month after going 0-3 with a 5.96 ERA in May.
“It’s been a battle the first couple months Youth Paul Worrilow Jersey , trying to get back into the swing of things,” Sanchez told reporters after his last start, when he allowed three runs and six hits in six innings of a 6-5 win against the Washington Nationals. “As of late, it’s been trending up.”
That can also be said of the Blue Jays, who have won four of five following their 5-4 win against the visiting Atlanta Braves on Wednesday, improving to 28-1 this season when scoring five or more runs.
The Angels had an off day at home on Wednesday after holding on the defeat the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-4 on Tuesday night to earn a split of the two-game series.
They plan to send Tyler Skaggs to the mound for the series opener. Like Sanchez, he’s undefeated this month after going winless in May. Skaggs has won all three starts in June, allowing one earned run in 20 innings for a 0.45 ERA.
He went 0-2 in May with a 4.28 ERA and had a sub-par outing in Toronto on May 23, allowing three runs and six hits in five innings. He avoided taking the loss when the Angels scored four runs in the ninth inning of the 5-4 win.
This might be his best stretch since undergoing Tommy John surgery in August 2014.
“With Tyler, we’ve seen a constant growth in confidence,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia told the Los Angeles Times. “This guy’s worked so hard to get back to where he was and even a little above that now.”
Skaggs (6-4, 2.81) is 2-2 overall in his six-year career against the Blue Jays with a 4.11 ERA.
Red-hot Mike Trout will appear in his 1,000th career game for Los Angeles. He is 16-for-23 with four homers and nine RBIs during an eight-game hitting streak.
Matchups for the Super Bowl between the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots:
When the Eagles (15-3) have the ball
The Patriots must be wary of a balanced offense that tore apart Minnesota, which has a better overall defense than does New England. Forget about Nick Foles (9) being a backup quarterback; his postseason performances, particularly in the NFC title game Youth Richard Rodgers Jersey , have been strong.
Foles will try to get TE Zach Ertz (86) involved early; he was unstoppable against the Vikings. Indeed, the Eagles have three tight ends they are comfortable going to, including Brent Celek (87) and Trey Burton (88). That places an onus on safeties Devin McCourty (32), as reliable as any player at that position in the league, and Patrick Chung (23).
Philadelphia’s wideouts supposedly were a weakness heading into the season. Not quite. Alshon Jeffery (17) is a clear No. 1 target with excellent hands and the ability to get open all over the field. That frees up vastly improved Nelson Agholor (13) and veteran Torrey Smith (82). They will challenge the Patriots’ solid cornerbacks, Malcolm Butler (21) and Stephon Gilmore (24).
New England’s defensive backs will need a bolstered pass rush, something the Patriots manufacture with a variety of players, from Trey Flowers (98) to Geneo Grissom (96) to Lawrence Guy (93) to rookie Adam Butler (70) to the rejuvenated LB James Harrison (92). Philly is most staunch at center with Jason Kelce (62) and right tackle with Lane Johnson (65), both All-Pros.
One thing the Eagles are sure to try to keep New England’s offense on the sideline is getting Jay Ajayi (36), former Patriot LeGarrette Blount (29) and rookie Corey Clement (30) some open space for runs. New England LB Kyle Van Noy (53) figures to have a busy day unless Philly falls behind.
When the Patriots (15-3) have the ball
Tom Brady (12) has won five Super Bowls, four times as game MVP. Never mind that he is 40, he’s playing as if he’s in his prime – hey, he might be – and will test Philadelphia’s versatile defense from the outset.
Oddly, while Brady led the NFL with 4,577 passing yards Youth Mike McGlinchey Jersey , no QB who paced the NFL in that category has won the Super Bowl in that season, going 0-5. Brady couldn’t do it, and the others were Peyton Manning, Rich Gannon, Kurt Warner and Dan Marino.
It’s essential that the Eagles get in Brady’s face throughout. That means DLs Fletcher Cox (91), the best defensive player in this postseason, Brandon Graham (55), rookie Derek Barnett (96) and former Patriot Chris Long (56) must apply pressure. That’s doable but not easy against an offensive line without any stars, but with plenty of skill. LT Nate Solder (77) and C David Andrews (60) are the key guys up front.
Philly must be alert not only for all of Brady’s targets – WRs Brandin Cooks (14), Danny Amendola (80), Chris Hogan (15), RBs James White (28) and Dion Lewis (33) – but for Lewis and White in the running game. Both are shifty and flexible and have Brady’s trust.
The Eagles’ secondary, often criticized for its inconsistency, has gotten very stingy in the playoffs. Of course, CBs Ronald Darby (41) Youth Joseph Noteboom Jersey , Jalen Mills (31) and Patrick Robinson (21) haven’t faced this kind of offense.
Perhaps most critical among all matchups is whether All-Pro TE Rob Gronkowski (87) has recovered from a concussion. His confrontations with veteran S Malcolm Jenkins (27) could be telling.
Patriots K Stephen Gostkowski (3) rebounded from a rough 2016 to have a strong season. He made 37 out of 40 field goals in the regular season, going 4 for 4 on kicks of 50 or more yards. He is one of the league’s most clutch kickers and is third in career postseason points in NFL history.
Lewis is the only player in this game to have returned a kickoff for a touchdown this season. He ranked fourth in the NFL with 24.8 yards per return.
Amendola is also a threat on punt returns. He averaged 8.6 yards per return during the regular season, including a long of 40 yards, and had a big one against Jacksonville in the AFC title game.
Philadelphia’s Jake Elliott (4) set a postseason club record with a 53-yard field goal and has longer range than Gostkowski. But he is less reliable on extra points, having missed four.
P Donnie Jones (8) ranked 17th in net average and Kenjon Barner (38) filled in nicely after Darren Sproles was injured. Barner’s best punt return went for 76 yards.
Coverage units are solid despite losing special-teams captain Chris Maragos.
Philly was in attack mode from the outset against Minnesota, and that’s a good reflection on Doug Pederson and his staff. Pederson knows he can’t back off against New England, and defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is known for being aggressive.
Not much has to be said about a New England staff that is 5-2 in Super Bowls. A twist, not unprecedented but interesting, has both coordinators, Matt Patricia on defense and Josh McDaniels on offense, bound for head coaching spots elsewhere. Don’t look for it to have any effect on this game.
The Eagles have never won a Super Bowl; their previous NFL title was in 1960. They have that extra edge that perennial underdogs – even in home playoff games as the No. 1 seed – would carry. Their confidence is soaring after they tore apart the stingiest scoring defense in the league for the conference championship.
New England probably doesn’t need anything in this category. But the Patriots always seem to find some extr
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