Sorting by


Toronto Blue Jays kick off homestand with 5-4 victory over Kansas City Royals

TORONTO — Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s hit a two-run double in Toronto’s four-run seventh inning and the Blue Jays hung on for a 5-4 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Friday.

Bo Bichette drove in two runs with a single and a double for Toronto (78-63) in his first game since Aug. 27. Pinch-hitter Ernie Clement also had an RBI single.

Bichette was reinstated from the 10-day injured list four hours before the game after missing time with a strained right quadriceps.

Starter Yusei Kikuchi had eight strikeouts over five innings, allowing one run on three hits and a walk. Jordan Hicks, Trevor Richards, Chad Green (2-0), Tim Mayza, and Jordan Romano of Markham, Ont., came out of Toronto’s bullpen.

Romano earned a four-out save, his 33rd of the season.

Dairon Blanco had a home run for Kansas City (44-98) and Nick Loftin added an RBI triple. Edward Olivares drove in a run with a fielder’s choice and Salvador Perez had a late RBI single.

The Royals had a bullpen day, with Collin Snider serving as opener before Alec Marsh, Austin Cox, Carlos Hernandez (1-10), Tucker Davidson came to the mound.

Blanco got the Royals on the board first, putting an 84 m.p.h. curveball from Kikuchi into the Blue Jays bullpen. Hitting at the bottom of Kansas City’s order, it was just his second homer of the season.

More impressively, it was only the second home run Kikuchi has allowed in his nine starts since Major League Baseball’s all-star break. Only New York Mets starter Jose Quintana has allowed fewer in that span among pitchers with at least 50 innings pitched.

Kikuchi gave up a soft bunt to Freddy Fermin to start the fifth but was dialed in after that, striking out Loftin, Kyle Isbel, and Blanco to end the inning.

Kevin Kiermaier led off the sixth for the Blue Jays with a triple, sliding into third to avoid the tag. Two batters later, Bichette hit a double down the first-base line to tie the game 1-1.

Although back-to-back walks from Davis Schneider and Cavan Biggio loaded the bases, Toronto couldn’t take advantage with Whit Merrifield striking out to end the sixth.

Loftin took advantage in the next inning with a triple of his own. 

It looked like Loftin would be the final out of the seventh as Toronto right-fielder George Springer tracked down the ball near the foul line but his attempt at a sliding catch was mistimed, with the ball bouncing off his glove. 

That allowed Loftin to safely reach third as Fermin crossed home for a 2-1 Royals lead.

Cox had to be removed from the game in the bottom of the seventh after a scary injury. The relief pitcher was running to first base on a groundball but planted his left foot badly, apparently twisting his knee and immediately dropping to the turf in agony.

Alejandro Kirk reached base on the play with Tyler Heineman then pinch running for him. Springer drew a walk to bring Bichette back to the plate. His single to left field scored Heineman.

Guerrero was next up and he made no mistake, hitting a double to left-centre field to bring home Springer and Bichette for Toronto’s first lead of the game.

Clement, pinch-hitting for Biggio, tacked on another run with a single, pushing Guerrero across the plate for a 5-2 Blue Jays lead. 

Olivares chipped away at that lead for Kansas City in the eighth, hitting into a fielder’s choice to score Bobby Witt Jr., when Clement tried to turn a double play to end the inning.

With two on and two out in the ninth, Perez singled to pull the Royals within a run. Olivares flied out to centre field to end the game.

ON DECK — Blue Jays ace Kevin Gausman (10-8) will get the start in Saturday’s matinee.

Zack Greinke (1-14) is scheduled to pitch for the Royals.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 8, 2023.

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press