TORONTO — Chris Bassitt tossed a complete-game, two-hit shutout to give the Toronto Blue Jays a 3-0 victory in the opener of their series against the National League-leading Atlanta Braves on Friday.
Bassitt (5-2) struck out eight and walked two to help the Blue Jays (22-16) end a two-game losing streak and hand the Braves (25-13) their second loss in a row.
Bassitt required 103 pitches and struck out the final two batters before 35,047 at Rogers Centre.
The Blue Jays snatched a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning. Whit Merrifield delivered a two-out single to centre field, and Kiermaier walked.
Merrifield scored on George Springer’s single to left after Eddie Rosario’s throw to home plate was late. Atlanta catcher Sean Murphy tried to catch Springer taking an extra base, but after the Blue Jays outfielder was safe, Kiermaier made his way home and was gunned down by second baseman Ozzie Albies.
Kiermaier was initially ruled safe, but a video review overturned the call of home plate umpire Laz Diaz.
The Blue Jays added a run in the seventh inning on a passed ball with the bases loaded and another in the eighth on a one-out homer to straightaway centre from Daulton Varsho off reliever Kirby Yates.
Bassitt retired the first 13 Braves in order but then gave up a one-out double down the right-field line to Rosario in the fifth inning.
Rosario was caught stealing third by Blue Jays catcher Alejandro Kirk, but Bassitt loaded the bases with two hit batters and a walk. Springer hustled to make a running catch in foul territory off the bat of Orlando Arcia to end the inning.
The Springer catch and Kirk throwing out Rosario continued an evening of solid defence for Toronto. Kiermaier made a nifty sliding catch on former Blue Jays farmhand Travis d’Arnaud to lead off the third inning. The next batter, Michael Harris II, had a line drive gobbled up by a diving Bo Bichette behind second base.
With Braves on first and second with none out in the sixth, Chapman collected a Matt Olson chopper, touched third and tossed out Olson for a double play.
Spencer Strider had his no-hit bid end in the third inning with a two-out single to centre from Kiermaier.
Strider (4-1) went 6.2 innings, striking out 11, walking one and giving up two runs on five hits before giving way to reliever Danny Young, who walked the first two batters he faced.
When Strider struck out Toronto third baseman Matt Chapman to end the fourth inning, the Atlanta righty increased his strikeout total to eight for the game. It was the 12th consecutive start Strider struck out eight or more opponents.
Jose Berrios (3-3) will start for the Blue Jays in the middle game of the three-game series against the Braves. Atlanta’s Bryce Elder (3-0) will take to the mound for the visitors.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 12, 2023.
Tim Wharnsby, The Canadian Press