TORONTO -- It turns out Blue Jays manager John Gibbons wasn't joking when he said earlier this week that top prospect Aaron Sanchez was going to be tossed into the fire.
Sanchez, 22, was called upon to make his Major League debut Wednesday night, but it wasn't exactly under normal circumstances. He entered in the seventh inning with a one-run lead and the heart of Boston's batting order due up.
The young right-hander responded by retiring Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Mike Napoli in order. When it was all said and done, Sanchez picked up the hold with a pair of strikeouts over two scoreless innings.
"It's been a whirlwind these last 48 hours and to have my [Major League career] start like that is pretty awesome," Sanchez said after Toronto's 6-4 victory at Rogers Centre.
"For me it was go out there and pretend like nobody's in the box. These are guys I've watched play as a kid and to be out there facing them today, maybe if I didn't think anybody in the box it could have made a difference. My mentality out there was me and the catcher."
Sanchez -- Toronto's top prospect according to MLB.com -- consistently hit 97-98 mph with his fastball and took an aggressive approach. That will be key to his successs because fastball command is something that has eluded him at times in the Minors.
There weren't really any signs of that against Boston. Sanchez did fall behind 3-1 to Ortiz, but threw first-pitch strikes to four of the other five batters he faced. Not bad for a guy who is adjusting to his role as a reliever after spending the first half of the season in a starting role.
"He looked like he belonged," Gibbons said. "You see different guys over the years, young kids that come up and they can look a little rattled. We've seen that in the past a little bit, but he carries himself a lot like [rookie right-hander Marcus] Stroman.
"They believe in themselves and that showed. For his big league debut, it was pretty special, and for what the team needed at that point, we're a little beat up down there, to get us two shutdown innings was big for the ballclub."