MLB: Newly extended Cristopher Sanchez aims to pitch Phillies past D-backs

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Citizens Bank Park might feel a little more like home for Cristopher Sanchez when he takes the mound for the Philadelphia Phillies in Sunday’s rubber match against the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks.

Sanchez will start a day after he signed a four-year extension with the Phillies, who traded for the left-hander in November 2019.

“I’m so happy to be here,” Sanchez said on Saturday via a team interpreter. “I feel great about this contract and what the future is going to be about.”

After emerging as a reliable lefty arm in Philadelphia’s rotation midway through last season, Sanchez has continued to ascend in his first full season as a starter.

Sanchez (4-3, 2.91 ERA) has allowed no more than four earned runs in any of his 14 starts this year. He’s surrendered two earned runs or fewer in 10 of those outings.

“Cristopher has pitched fantastically for us and we project he’ll continue to do so,” Phillies president Dave Dombrowski said. “We’re happy to have one of the best young pitchers in baseball signed for many years.”

Sanchez’s success this season largely has come from his changeup and his ability to keep the ball in the ballpark. He has allowed just one home run in 77 1/3 innings this season.

The 27-year-old is 0-1 with a 13.50 ERA in three career appearances against the Diamondbacks, including the postseason. He started Game 4 of last year’s National League Championship Series against Arizona, allowing two runs (one earned) in 2 1/3 innings.

Slade Cecconi also pitched in last year’s NLCS, posting a scoreless inning in both of his relief appearances against Philadelphia.

Cecconi (2-5, 5.90 ERA) will start for the Diamondbacks on Sunday after the 24-year-old right-hander tossed six shutout frames last Tuesday against the Washington Nationals.

Tuesday’s 5-0 victory opened a six-game road trip for Arizona, which has won three of the first five games entering Sunday’s finale.

The Diamondbacks averaged 10 hits over their first four games of the trip before they were stifled to a season-low two hits in Saturday’s 12-1 loss.

“This was a grind,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “This was a tough day.”

An ineffective start from Tommy Henry forced Lovullo to use two relievers over 3 1/3 innings before catcher Tucker Barnhart was summoned to pitch the eighth with the game out of hand.

Excluding Barnhart, Lovullo has deployed six relievers over the series’ first two games.

“I don’t like pitching position players at all, but sometimes you have to preserve and we have to fight another day,” Lovullo said.

Barnhart started at catcher for the Diamondbacks on Saturday after Gabriel Moreno was placed on the 10-day injured list earlier in the day with a sprained left thumb.

Arizona on Saturday promoted catcher Jose Herrera from Triple-A Reno. The 27-year-old flied out in his lone at-bat on Saturday for the game’s final out.

The Diamondbacks have followed each of their past four losses by winning their next two games. Even with Saturday’s setback, Arizona has won eight of its past 12 and stands one game below .500.

–Field Level Media

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