Blue Jays roll into vital series with division-leading Orioles

Blue Jays roll into vital series with division-leading Orioles

The Toronto Blue Jays will continue their American League wild-card chase when open a three-game series at the division rival Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday.

The Blue Jays took two of three from the Cincinnati Reds over the weekend and remain in a pack of four teams vying for the final two wild-card spots. They also trail Baltimore by 8 1/2 games in the AL East.

Toronto left-hander Yusei Kikuchi (9-4, 3.44 ERA) opposes rookie right-hander Grayson Rodriguez (3-3, 5.44) in the opener.

Kikuchi is 2-1 with a 1.29 ERA in six starts since the All-Star break with 36 strikeouts and eight walks. The Blue Jays are 4-2 in those starts.

In his last outing, Kikuchi allowed a run on four hits in six innings of a no-decision against the Phillies. He struck out seven without a walk.

“I always thought add the stuff to succeed in major leagues,” the 32-year-old Kikuchi said through a team interpreter. “But in the past, I had a bit of control issues. Right now I’ve been able to attack the zone and get hitters out that way this year, so it’s really helping.”

Kikuchi is 4-5 with a 5.40 ERA in 11 games (eight starts) against the Orioles. He beat them on Aug. 2, allowing one run on six hits over six innings.

After totaling 10 runs in their previous four games, the Blue Jays erupted for 10 on Sunday to win the rubber game against the Reds.

Brandon Belt had his second multi-homer game this season. He and Kevin Kiermaier each hit two-run homers, and Bo Bichette, Belt and George Springer all had solo shots.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. exited the game shortly after losing his bat on a swing in the top of the fourth inning.

“He said that he was fine and finished the at-bat,” manager John Schneider said. “It’s left middle finger discomfort, and that’s kind of happened to him before a bit. It was weird when he lost his bat. He’s day to day, but we’re expecting him to be fine.”

Guerrero is batting .265 with 18 home runs, 72 RBIs and 56 runs.

The Orioles pounded out 17 hits in a 12-1 win to complete a three-game sweep at Oakland on Sunday. Gunnar Henderson finished a single shy of the cycle — hitting his second double in his final at-bat — and Ryan Mountcastle extended his on-base streak to a career-high 26 games with three hits, including his 17th home run.

Jorge Mateo added an inside-the-park homer as the Orioles finished their West Coast swing 6-3.

“It shows you the grit and grind of our guys,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “It’s not easy to come out to the West Coast. Everybody’s tired today. Everybody’s (been) tired the last couple of days.”

The first-place Orioles are 8-2 against the third-place Blue Jays this season. Baltimore lost its first two series of the season against AL East teams but is 8-0-2 in 10 series since.

Rodriguez is 1-1 with a 2.35 ERA over his past five starts. On Aug. 14 he beat the San Diego Padres, allowing one run on three hits over seven innings. He lost to the Blue Jays on Aug. 2, giving up three runs in 5 2/3 innings.

Outfielder Anthony Santander (lower back pain) has missed the past two games.

“Right now, I don’t feel any better,” Santander said Sunday, “but hopefully for Tuesday, I can be ready to go.”

—Field Level Media

Original source here

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.