Blue Jays take valuable lessons from walk-off sweep of Braves
TORONTO — For three hours, the Blue Jays and Braves held the door open for one another, begging their opponent to walk through it and win.
Danny Jansen, tired of standing outside in the cold, finally decided to barge in.
Toronto’s catcher was the walk-off hero on Sunday afternoon at Rogers Centre, scorching a two-run single through the left side of the infield in the bottom of the ninth to seal a 6-5 win and a series sweep over the Braves. At the end of a game so riddled with imperfections, it was remarkable to see Jansen drenched in water, waving up at a roaring crowd upon stealing the win.
The air wasn’t just cold inside the ballpark. It was blowing, and it mattered.
Atlanta botched a handful of routine fly balls in the outfield, with two players often coming together at the last moment as they tried to track a knuckleball through the air. The Blue Jays made their share of mistakes, too, both defensively and on the bases. One was nearly fatal, though, to start the bottom of the ninth inning.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. led off the home half and launched a fly ball to the opposite field that he clearly thought was gone. Guerrero jogged out of the box and eased into his wide turn around first base, but then came a sound as loud as the crack of his bat. It was the thump of the ball hitting off the wall.
He was held to a single, and following the win, manager John Schneider wasted no time saying that his star slugger probably should have been on second base to open the inning. It all worked out in the end, but that play on its own was problematic.
“It’s nice when you win and it doesn’t come back to bite you,” Schneider said. “We all thought he got it, too, and a guy like him usually knows. There were obviously weird conditions with the wind and the roof open today. They had a couple [of weird plays]. I think we should have been a bit more aware of that and a bit more aware on the bases.”
These are the conversations that great teams — or at least teams capable of greatness — need to have. There are lessons even within wins, and Sunday’s were blatant.
It doesn’t lessen the importance of sweeping one of the best teams in the National League, but this wasn’t your usual post-game victory celebration.
“You always take a win,” Schneider said, “but you’ve got to reel guys in a little bit starting tomorrow. There’s things that we need to tighten up. I thought the last two days were good and today was a weird day. A lot of guys left on base, errors on both sides, us on the bases. You’ve got to tighten that up.”
The Blue Jays have been the comeback kids this season, pulling off 10 come-from-behind wins, and their bullpen can be thanked for that. Anthony Bass, Jay Jackson, Trevor Richards and Nate Pearson combined to give Toronto five innings of scoreless relief to keep the team in the game after a difficult outing from Yusei Kikuchi, who allowed three home runs and nine hits over just four-plus innings.
Home runs have been a problem for Kikuchi, with his 11 in the season tied for fourth in MLB. But that’s a difficult adjustment to make for some pitchers, because it’s important that Kikuchi doesn’t lose his aggression.
“I’ve continued to attack the zone, and sometimes when you attack the zone, you get hit,” Kikuchi said through a club interpreter. “We’ll go back and check the data and all of that, but I’ll continue to attack the zone moving forward.”
Like everything else that went wrong in Sunday’s game, though, the home runs will be forgotten when we look back on the final score a few days from now.
Consider this a lucky escape. The Blue Jays will take the win, but they know that more is needed with the Yankees and Orioles coming to town, then a date with the Rays waiting after. Tampa Bay, in particular, is far less forgiving when it comes to mistakes, and it won’t be as patient if Toronto hesitates at the door again.
Blue Jays beat Twins on Berrios’ pitching, Kirk’s hitting, Varsho’s fielding
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — José Berríos made another solid start. Alejandro Kirk delivered a timely hit. Daulton Varsho did a little bit of everything.
The Toronto Blue Jays took another step toward a turnaround at the end of a rough month, posting their first series win in four ties in well-rounded fashion.
Berríos pitched around a season-high five walks and into the sixth inning for Toronto to beat his old team, and the Blue Jays blanked the Minnesota Twins 3-0 on Sunday.
“Hopefully, this kind of springboards us forward,” manager John Schneider said after the Blue Jays played their 17th game in 17 days.
Kirk hit a two-run single in the second inning that held up for Berríos (5-4), who has allowed two or fewer runs in seven of his last nine turns after a rough start.
Daulton Varsho scored all the way from first base on Kirk’s hit. Handling center field for Kevin Kiermaier — the day after he twice had a leaping catch attempt turn into a Twins home run when those balls bounced off his glove and into the grass berm — Varsho was superb. He assisted on the third out of the fourth inning when he fielded a single and threw out Alex Kirilloff at third.
Then in the eighth, Varsho jumped above the center-field wall to take a homer away from Carlos Correa.
“For as magnified as he was yesterday, I’m thrilled that he gets to be celebrated today,” Schneider said.
Jordan Romano recorded his 12th save with a scoreless ninth, allowing a two-out single to rookie Matt Wallner. He was 2 for 2 with two walks and has reached base in eight straight plate appearances.
The Blue Jays (28-26), who are in last place in the AL East, are just 10-17 in their last 27 games.
“You’re going to go through a rough stretch at some point during the year, and for us it’s like right now,” Varsho said. “Hopefully we can get hot here and finish off the year strong.”
With Alek Manoah struggling at the top of the rotation, the Blue Jays need several more starts like this from Berríos, who was traded by the Twins at the deadline two years ago. The right-hander, who is 3-1 with a 2.30 ERA in his last five starts, helped lead a players-only meeting on Thursday after the Blue Jays lost three out of four to division leader Tampa Bay.
“It’s just on us to stay back, get relaxed and try to be ourselves,” Berríos said.
Bailey Ober (3-2) finished five innings for Minnesota for the fourth time in five May starts, with seven strikeouts in a bad-luck loss.
The Twins (27-26) had their lead in the AL Central cut to one game over Detroit (25-26). They’ve led the division for 58 of 60 days this season.
“Every time the opportunities were in front of us, every time there was something we could have done, it felt like we went in the wrong direction,” manager Rocco Baldelli said.
Twins rookie Edouard Julien, a native of Quebec City, Canada, whose favorite boyhood team was the Blue Jays, had a rough afternoon. He made a diving stop of Varsho’s two-out single in the second, but he dropped the ball before he could make the throw to first. The play was ruled a hit.
In the bottom of the inning, the Twins had the bases loaded with none out — for a few seconds. Julien rounded second base too far, ignoring the runner in front of him, and was thrown out by the catcher Kirk.
“Those are mental cramps right there,” Baldelli said.
Blue Jays: Kiermaier was on the bench after being removed from the game on Saturday with discomfort in his right lower back. “All things are trending in the right direction,” Schneider said.
Twins: RHP Emilio Pagán was pulled with a strained left hip flexor after seven pitches in the seventh.
Blue Jays: LHP Yusei Kikuchi (5-2, 4.56 ERA) starts on Tuesday night against Milwaukee after a return home and a day off. RHP Adrian Houser (1-0, 2.25 ERA) takes the mound for the Brewers.
Twins: RHP Sonny Gray (4-0, 1.82 ERA) pitches the opener of a three-game series at Houston on Monday afternoon. RHP J.P France (1-1, 3.43 ERA) starts for the Astros.
AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Pressure mounts on both sides as Stars and Golden Knights prepare for Game 6 – Sportsnet.ca
Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Adin Hill (33) stands with his team during open net at the end of the third period in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Western Conference finals against the Dallas Stars, Saturday, May 27, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Ronda Churchill/AP)
IIHF Hockey: Canada downs Germany 5-2 – CTV News
TAMPERE, Finland –
Samuel Blais scored two goals to rally Canada to a 5-2 victory over Germany in the final of the ice hockey world championship on Sunday.
It’s a record 28th world title for Canada, and its second in three years. Russia has 27 while Germany has never won the trophy.
Blais netted with a backhand 4:51 into the final period for a 3-2 lead for Canada, which was playing in its fourth straight final.
Lawson Crouse, Tylor Toffoli and Scott Laughton also scored for Canada, Peyton Krebs had two assists and goaltender Samuel Montembeault stopped 21 shots.
Toffoli stretched the lead to 4-2 from the left circle with 8:09 remaining and Laughton made it 5-2 with an empty net goal.
Canada had to come back twice in the final.
John Peterka wristed a shot past Montembeault from the left circle 7:44 into the game. It was the sixth goal for the Buffalo Sabres forward at the tournament.
Blais was fed by Krebs to beat goaltender Mathias Niederberger and tie it 1-1 at 10:47.
Daniel Fischbuch put the Germans ahead again with a one-timer with 6:13 to go in the middle period.
Crouse equalized on a power play with 2:32 remaining in the frame.
It was the first medal for Germany since 1953 when it was second behind Sweden.
The two previously met just once in the final with Canada winning 6-1 in 1930.
LATVIA GETS BRONZE
Defenseman Kristian Rubins scored his second goal 1:22 into overtime to lead Latvia to a 4-3 victory over the United States and earn a bronze medal earlier Sunday.
It’s the first top-three finish for Latvia at the tournament. Its previous best was a seventh place it managed three times.
The U.S. lost in the bronze medal game for the second straight year. The U.S. team was cruising through the tournament with eight straight wins until it was defeated by Germany in the semifinal 4-3 in overtime.
Rubins rallied Latvia with his first with 5:39 to go in the final period to tie the game at 3 to force overtime.
Roberts Bukarts and Janis Jaks also scored for Latvia.
Rocco Grimaldi scored twice for the U.S. in the opening period to negate Latvia’s 1-0 and 2-1 leads.
Matt Coronato had put the U.S. 3-2 ahead 6:19 into the final period.
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