|Jays' Sanchez returns home to take on Angels|
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, 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, 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.