Teoscar Hernandez hit two homers and drove in three runs, Hyun Jin Ryu pitched seven sharp innings and the Toronto Blue Jays beat Atlanta 4-1 on a cold Wednesday night to continue their dominance of the Braves.
Toronto improved to 5-0 against the Braves this season and have outscored them 35-16.
Hernandez has hit four homers and driven in 15 runs in 12 games since returning from the COVID-19 injured list on April 30. He said he wasn’t worried about falling behind on his baseball skills while missing 16 games.
“When I was at home during my recovery I wasn’t doing a lot of baseball stuff,” Hernandez said. “I was trying to get my body ready because I knew if my body was ready, the baseball stuff was going to be there.”
William Contreras hit a long homer in the fifth for the only run allowed by Ryu (3-2). Ryu gave up five hits, struck out six and walked one.
Ryu said the pitcher’s duel with Max Fried helped him on the mound.
“In a situation like that we tend to focus more and be able to concentrate on all our pitches,” Ryu said through a translator.
Reliever Tyler Chatwood retired Ronald Acuna Jr., Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna in the eighth. A.J. Cole pitched the ninth for his first save.
Hernandez hit the first pitch thrown by right-hander Luke Jackson (1-1) in the seventh over the center-field wall, giving Toronto a 2-1 lead. He added a two-run shot 464 feet to left-centre off Josh Tomlin in the ninth.
On Tuesday, Hernandez had a go-ahead infield single in the eighth in a 5-3 win over Atlanta. He said his swings are “in a good path” and added “’'that’s what I’m going to try to keep doing.”
The temperature for the first pitch was a brisk 52 degrees. Fans wore jackets and stocking caps and huddled under blankets, an unusual necessity for Atlanta in May.
Contreras pulled a knee-high pitch from Ryu 463 feet into the seats in left field for his second homer. The drive came exactly one week after Contreras, the younger brother of Chicago Cubs All-Star catcher Willson Contreras, hit his first homer at Washington.
The Blue Jays pulled even in the sixth. Cavan Biggio walked, stole second and scored on Marcus Semien’s double to the left-field wall. Semien extended his hitting streak to 11 games.
Fried allowed only two hits and one run in six innings. The strong start by Fried was especially important after the Braves learned right-hander Mike Soroka might not pitch this season.
Before the game, Braves manager Brian Snitker said Soroka suffered a setback in his recovery from surgery to repair his torn right Achilles tendon suffered last season. Soroka will have a second surgery early next week in Green Bay, Wisconsin, to determine the cause of renewed discomfort.
Blue Jays: OF George Springer (right quad strain) hit in the cage and plans to begin running on Thursday. INF Joe Panik (calf) also hit in the cage as neither team took normal batting practice outside following rain most of the day.
Braves: RHP Chris Martin (right shoulder inflammation) was reinstated from the 10-day injured list. Martin was scheduled to pitch a second consecutive day with Triple-A Gwinnett. Snitker said he decided “we might as well do it here.” ... LHP Grant Dayton (left thigh inflammation) was placed on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to May 9. LHP Sean Newcomb, who was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett, pitched the eighth. ... RHP Bryse Wilson was optioned to Gwinnett after allowing two runs in six innings on Tuesday night.
FRIED CAN’T REACH 8-0 VS A.L.
Fried was denied in his bid to become the first pitcher to win his first eight interleague starts. He was 7-0 with a 2.18 ERA in his first eight starts against American League teams.
Even so, Fried lowered his ERA from 8.44 ERA to 6.55 with his second consecutive strong start.
“Moved the ball around, felt like I kept them off-balance,” Fried said. “I feel it was a solid outing.”
Snitker described Fried’s start as “really good. Really, really good.”
The Blue Jays had runners thrown out on the bases in each of the first two innings. Bo Bichette singled in the first and took a wide turn around first base when the ball bounced under the glove of Acuna in right field. Acuna recovered quickly and threw Bichette out at first base in a call confirmed on a replay challenge.
Hernandez walked to lead off the second and was caught stealing following a pickoff throw by Fried.
The Blue Jays will complete their 11-day, 10-game road trip on Thursday when RHP Ross Stripling (0-1, 6.61) faces Braves RHP Charlie Morton (2-2, 4.98).