Rays 2 Blue Jays 5
Was that the best start of Kikuchi’s time with the Blue Jays? 6 innings, 4 hits, 1 earned (a home run, definitely not crushed, 92.8 mph, hit 357 feet), 1 walk and 9 strikeouts. That’s the most strikeouts he’s had as a Blue Jay. He did throw a lot of pitches, 94. I was pulling for them to let him start the seventh, but it was likely smarter to pull him there.
On offense, we could have done more. We got:
- One in the third: Danny Jansen singled, then was replaced by Kevin Kiermaier on a force at second. George Springer walked, and he and Kiermaier pulled off a double steal. I like the double steal. And Bo Bichette ground out to second for an RBI.
- Two in the fourth: With two out, Alejandro Kirk was hit by pitch and went to second on a balk. I’d love to explain the balk, but balls are often mysterious. A Whit Merrifield double-scored Kirk. And a Jansen’s second single of the day scored Merrifield.
- One in the sixth: Matt Chapman and Kirk started with back-to-back walks. Merrifield moved them up to second and third with a ground out. An intentional walk to Jansen loaded the bases. I’m not too fond of intentional walks, but this was particularly puzzling. Danny, before today, had just one hit. But managers are smarter than me, I guess. Kiermaier struck out, but George Springer took advantage of a very wild Josh Fleming and got an RBI with a walk. Unfortunately, Bichette didn’t take the same advantage, chasing several pitches in a 9-pitch at-bat that ended in a ground out.
- One in the seventh: Vlad led off with a single. Daulton Varsho hit a soft liner to second that Wander Franco dropped but since Vlad had to get back to first, Wander had time to pick up the ball and step on second. Nothing Vlad could have done. Chapman singled to put runners on the corners, and Kirk singled home one. Like the sixth, one more hit could have made the game a runaway.
The pen did the job again:
- Erik Swanson gave out a couple of walks but pitched a scoreless seventh.
- Adam Cimber gave up a run in the eighth but was helped out by some nice defense from Vlad. Franco doubled. Isaac Paredes ground out. Then there was a ground ball well wide of first. Vlad made a nice throw to Cimber, who barely beat Randy Arozarena to the bag. Adam stumbled over the bag (heck of a play by him, too), and Franco didn’t slow at all going around third and scored without a throw. Franco is fast, and Cimber, running hard away from the plate, had no shot at him. Harold Ramirez grounded to second, Merrifield’s throw to first wasn’t on line, but Vlad got the tag on just in time.
- Jordan Romano came in for the ninth. He gave up a soft liner that tipped off Chapman’s glove and another soft line that Chapman missed by about 2 feet. The two singles were hit at 61.1 mph and 75.4. Just bad luck. A strikeout was followed by a popup to center that fell between everyone. I couldn’t believe no one got there (another 75.2 mph single, .140 expected batting average). Three soft hits, and we are sweating. But a strikeout (Yandy Diaz) and a ground ball right back off Jansen. He got the ball back and threw to first, not exactly on line, but good enough to end the game. Save number 6 for Romano. I hope Romano is ok.
Jays of the Day: Kikuchi (.199 WPA), Jansen (.139, happy birthday), Merrifield (106) and I’m giving one to Vlad for his glove work.
The Other Award: Well, no one gets it. I half want to give one to Romano for making me sweat, but he was unlucky. Is it my imagination, or are a lot of pitchers getting hit with comebackers this season?
Two wins off the formerly undefeated Rays. Tomorrow we go for the sweep.