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Yusei Kikuchi sharp as Blue Jays upstage red-hot Rays for second game in a row



From streaking to losing, the Tampa Bay Rays suddenly find themselves in unfamiliar territory.

It’s far too early in baseball’s marathon season to draw any conclusive statements other to state the obvious — Tampa and Toronto figure to be among the leading contenders in the American League.
Both teams showed a flair for outfield brilliance Saturday in a matchup at the Rogers Centre that felt more like a late-season game than a mid-April meeting.

In a highly competitive and well-played game, the Blue Jays emerged with a 5-2 win, Toronto’s second straight over Tampa, which came to town having won its first 13.

The win was the Jays’ ninth in their past 11 games and they will try for a sweep of the Rays on Sunday afternoon.


More than anything, the Jays have shown they can match Tampa pitch for pitch and hit for hit. But it was the Jays’ bottom of the order that did most of the damage on Saturday. Toronto’s only extra-base hit came courtesy of Whit Merrifield, who batted seventh, while Danny Jansen, who turned 28, had two hits batting in the No. 8 hole.

Yusei Kikuchi struck out nine, while yielding one run and one walk in six solid innings to earn the win, his second of the season.

“It’s just his conviction,’’ said manager John Schneider post-game when breaking down his lefty’s outing. “He was on the attack. He’s pitching with a lot of confidence.”

For Kikuchi, his renaissance with the Blue Jays began in spring training when he showed signs of turning the page from last year’s disappointment.

Even to the most inexperienced baseball eyes, it was easy to see the extra pep in his step.

“He has a different way about him this year,’’ added Schneider. “The work he put in (during the off-season) and the spring he had have carried over (into the regular season). He’s confident and a confident pitcher is dangerous.”

It was by far Kikuchi’s best performance as a Blue Jay in quite some time. Through an interpreter, he said all of his pitches were working, especially his fastball and credited his battery mate.

“Danny called a great game,’’ the pitcher said.

Jordan Romano gave up hits to the first two batters he faced in the ninth. And after recording a strikeout, he yielded a third hit to load the bases, then got a second strikeout.

Romano then took a hard-hit comebacker from hot-hitting Wander Franco off his right rib, but recovered to make the throw to first that Vlad Guerrero Jr., had to go high to spear and swipe tag the base-runner for the final out.

“He’s doing OK,’’ said Schneider of Romano, who earned his league-best sixth save. “He was moving around quite well. I’m glad he made the throw to first.

“That’s a tough play to make, a lot of adrenalin and you get a comebacker hit right at you. Good Canadian boy. He’s tough. We’ll check him out and see how he is (Sunday). For now, right rib contusion.”


Fans were treated to a defensive gem when left fielder Daulton Varsho left his feet to make a great catch in the fourth inning on a rocket stroked by Harold Ramirez.

But on the first pitch to the next Rays batter, Taylor Walls, fans went from delirium to disappointment as the ball sailed over the wall to tie the game, 1-1.


The Jays pulled off a double steal after Jansen began the third by beating out a ground ball deep in the hole.

In the previous inning, Jansen took consecutive foul tips to an area no player welcomes, dare we say.

But he later scored the game’s first run on a groundout by Bo Bichette, then knocked in a run in his second at-bat as the Jays took a 3-1 lead after four innings.



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Blue Jays pound out 14 hits in win over Brewers – TSN



TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays were quick to set the tone in their three-game series opener against the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday, scoring early and often in a 7-2 victory at Rogers Centre.

Alejandro Kirk and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had three hits apiece and Whit Merrifield drove in a pair of runs for the Blue Jays, who scored four times in the first inning for a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

“Today was a perfect example of doing things that we’re good at,” said Blue Jays manager John Schneider. “It was good starting pitching, it was clean defence and really good at-bats.”


It was Toronto’s fourth win in seven games.

Blue Jays starter Yusei Kikuchi (6-2) gave up a two-run homer to William Contreras in the opening frame but settled in after that, allowing just three hits over five innings.

The left-hander issued five walks and had four strikeouts, including the 500th of his career.

“Obviously it wasn’t my A-game today,” Kikuchi said via an interpreter. “But I just battled out there and gave it my all.”

Cavan Biggio and Merrifield each had a pair of hits for the Blue Jays, who outhit Milwaukee 14-4.

Brewers starter Adrian Houser (1-1) lasted 4 1/3 innings, allowing six earned runs, 11 hits and three walks. He had three strikeouts.

With the roof open on a glorious spring evening, the Blue Jays gave the Rogers Centre crowd of 32,930 something to cheer about in the early going.

Guerrero and Matt Chapman delivered RBI singles in the first inning and Merrifield sent a roller down the third-base line to bring home two more runs.

“Any four-run inning in a nine-inning game is going to be tough to come back from,” said Brewers manager Craig Counsell.

The Blue Jays loaded the bases with nobody out in the second. Kirk scored on a fielder’s choice and Brandon Belt added an RBI single.

Toronto right-hander Nate Pearson had four strikeouts over two shutout innings. Adam Cimber, Tim Mayza and Yimi Garcia also made relief appearances.

The game kicked off a seven-game road trip for the Brewers (28-26), who lead the National League Central Division standings.

The Blue Jays (29-26) have a better record but started the day in last place in the powerhouse American League East.

Baseball’s hits leader, Bo Bichette, had his eight-game hitting streak come to an end. He was the only Toronto starter without a hit.

Milwaukee shortstop Andruw Monasterio singled in the second inning for his first big-league hit.

The game took two hours 31 minutes to play.


Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier was not in the starting lineup as he continues to deal with lower back discomfort.

Schneider said Kiermaier has made progress over the last few days. Kiermaier hasn’t played since he was removed from a game Saturday at Minnesota.


It was the first game at Rogers Centre for Brewers slugger Rowdy Tellez since he was traded from Toronto to Milwaukee two years ago.

Tellez spent parts of four seasons with the Blue Jays, who drafted him with the 895th overall pick in 2013.


Right-handers were set to square off on Wednesday night with Julio Teheran (0-1, 1.80 earned-run average) to start for the Brewers against Alek Manoah (1-5, 5.53).

Toronto’s Kevin Gausman (3-3, 3.03) was tabbed for the series finale on Thursday against fellow righty Freddy Peralta (5-4, 4.64).

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 30, 2023.

Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.

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Pride Toronto director says Blue Jays have opportunity after Anthony Bass apology – CP24



Pride Toronto executive director Sherwin Modeste feels the Toronto Blue Jays have an opportunity to turn a player’s negative action into a positive.

Blue Jays reliever Anthony Bass apologized Tuesday for expressing support on social media for anti-2SLGBTQ+ boycotts of Target and Bud Light. A day earlier, he shared an Instagram post urging others to spurn the companies over the support they showed for the 2SLGBTQ+ community.

“I think (the team can) just continue to do what is right and continue to respect diversity and continue to spread love, continue to show their support for the 2SLGBTQ community,” Modeste said.


“But at the same time, they also have a responsibility to hold all of their staff, all of their players, everyone that’s associated with the Jays, they need to hold them accountable and that I would leave for them to manage.”

Bass spoke outside the home dugout at Rogers Centre before the Blue Jays’ series opener against the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday night.

He prefaced his remarks by saying “I’ll make this quick,” before delivering a statement that lasted 33 seconds.

Bass said he was “truly sorry” for the post and that he’d use team resources to better educate himself, adding “the ballpark is for everybody.”

The 35-year-old native of Dearborn, Mich., who has more than 33,000 followers on Instagram, did not take questions.

Modeste said the amplification of a hateful social media post can have a significant impact.

“Let’s also think about the young person that might be a prospect or might potentially be the next baseball player,” he told The Canadian Press. “And seeing this can deter them. So we need to find opportunities to strengthen our community, not to bring our community down.”

General manager Ross Atkins and team president Mark Shapiro were not made available to speak with reporters.

The annual Blue Jays Pride weekend is set for June 9-10. A rainbow flag jersey giveaway was planned and other details were to be released next week.

“Pride Toronto has a very good relationship with the Jays,” Modeste said. “I personally have worked very closely with the Jays Care Foundation and I know what they stand for because we have been part of this journey together. I don’t believe that one individual is going to change what the Jays are going to do and what the Jays have been doing for the community.

“But ultimately they’re going to have to make a decision on who do they want on the team and how do they want to be seen and reflected in the community.”

Bass apologized to Atkins and Blue Jays manager John Schneider earlier Tuesday. He also apologized to his teammates as a group at the skipper’s prompting.

Since Bass did not speak publicly beyond his brief statement, Schneider was left to handle a series of media questions during a pre-game availability in his office.

“I think the message to the fan base is that we have and will continue to be a huge part of the Pride community,” he said. “We’re looking forward to the ninth and 10th of June. (This situation) doesn’t represent our overall feelings as an organization. We love our fans and we love all the support that we get.

“It was unfortunate that (this) happened. If they take anything, it’s that the accountability was there and the awareness of how it made people feel was there.”

Bass has played for six other teams over his 12-year big-league career.

“As a man, you stand up and you apologize for what you did,” Schneider said. “I think that’s a really good first step.”

Earlier this year, Bass sparked criticism when he tweeted to complain that a flight attendant had asked his pregnant wife to clean up popcorn their toddler dropped on the floor during a flight.

The right-hander also played for Toronto in the 2020 season.

With files from The Associated Press

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Why a Brad Treliving hiring by the Maple Leafs makes the most sense –



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