This was a good all around team win. The bats are finally showing up, most importantly Vlad’s. They jumped on Adrian Houser, who came in with a 2.25 ERA, from the start. Every batter except Bo Bichette and 9th inning pinch Hitter Nathan Lukes got a hit, and 18 Jays got on base in total.
On the pitching side, Yusei Kikuchi was shaky, but did enough, and the bullpen was solid.
After a pretty grim month, hopefully the Twins series marked the turnaround. There’s a lot of work to do with three games and two teams separating the Jays from Houston in the third wildcard, but this team is far too talented to stay down forever.
Kikuchi had a messy first inning. After retiring the leadoff man, he gave up a hard line drive single to Owen Miller and then a harder home run to William Contreras, putting the Jays in a 2-0 hole. He then walked Christian Yelich, but got fly outs from the next two batters.
He stabilized in the second, giving up a line single to Andrew Monasterio (the first of his career, a nice 26th birthday present) but otherwise keeping the Brewers off the board. The third was also quick, with a double play erasing a Contreras walk. He walked Brian Anderson in the third, but escaped without damage and recorded his 500th career strikeout in the process. He upped the difficulty for himself in the fifth, this time walking two, but he also managed two strikeouts to get out of it.
You couldn’t say he was good on the night, given that he walked five batters and struck out four, but he did enough, mostly avoiding really hard contact after the first and getting punch outs when he really needed them. Five innings of two run ball is just fine from your fifth starter.
Nate Pearson took over in the sixth. It was a 1-2-3 inning, including a strikeout of old friend Rowdy Tellez, who was pinch hitting. He came back for the seventh and struck out the side.
Adam Cimber took over for the eighth. He got the first two guys to ground out, but then walked Christian Yelich and hit Anderson. John Schneider called for Tim Mayza to face Tellez, who grounded out to end the threat.
Yimi Garcia got the call to finish it off. With the way he’s been going, 5 runs didn’t feel safe. He upped the anxiety factor right away by hitting pinch hitter Abraham Toro with his first pitch, but got a double play two pitches later and ended up not allowing a run.
When you’re a pitch to contact ground ball specialist, ypu’ll always be vulnerable to days when those balls all seem to find holes and your fielders can’t bail you out. Adrian Houser had one of those.
George Springer lead off the first with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Bo Bichette grounded out, but Vlad Guerrero jr was able to bring him home with a ground ball single. Brandon Belt walked to move Vlad into scoring position, then Matt Chapman cashed him in with a ground single to tie it at two. Whit Merrifield capped the rally with a ground ball that snuck inside the third base bag for a double, scoring both runners to put Toronto out front 4-2. Of course it wouldn’t be a May Jays game without a base running blunder, so Whit immediately got himself picked off second.
They did more damage in the second. Alejandro Kirk used his speed to intimidate the defence, causing Houser to miss tue bag covering first and getting himself an infield single. Cavan Biggio added a line single of his own and Springer reached on an error to load the bases. Bo grounded into a fielder’s choice, with Springer out but Kirk scoring. Belt then brought Biggio home on a ground ball single to extend the lead to 6-2.
They tacked on one more in the third, with singles from Merrifield, Kirk and Biggio bumping the margin up to 5.
You can’t score half a run, so the pattern of halving their runs scored each inning ended with a scoreless fourth.
They threatened in the fifth, with Kirk singling and Biggio walking to drive Houser out of the game. Bryse Wilson came out in relief and got Springer to ground into a fielder’s choice and Bichette to line out to the track to get out of the inning without allowing a run.
Vlad added his second ground ball single of the night in the sixth, but Wilson got three fly outs to prevent him from scoring.
Hoby Milner pitched the seventh. Daulton Varsho got a hit on a little sinking liner that just escaped the grasp of diving shortstop Bryce Turang. Kirk hit into a double play, though, and then Biggio was called out on a strike 3 that was about six inches below the zone (although ball three of the at bat as definitely on the corner).
Jake Cousins handled the eighth. Springer walked and Vlad lined his third single of the night, but Toronto didn’t manage to score.
Jays of the Day: Only Merrifield (0.134) had the number because this was a team effort with 4 of 5 pitchers and 7 of 9 starting hitters in positive territory. Springer and Belt were just short, and Vlad and Pearson deserve credit for very strong nights.
Not Mad, Just Disappointed: Nobody is in the (loonie) dog house tonight.
We’ll be back at 7:07pm ET tomorrow night for game two. Alek Manoah (1-5, 5.53) will look to find his footing against Julio Teheran (0-1, 1.80), who’s newly back in the Majors after a year in independent ball.