The Toronto Blue Jays’ vaunted offence has been sputtering against divisional rivals this week but manager John Schneider is preaching patience in the clubhouse and to media.
Ryan Mountcastle’s three-run homer lifted the Baltimore Orioles over the Blue Jays 6-2 on Friday as Toronto lost its second straight and dropped into fourth in the American League East. The Blue Jays runs came from Danny Jansen’s RBI single and Bo Bichette’s groundout.
“I know it sucks and when you’re in a little bit of a rut like this, everyone wants to do it,” said Schneider after the game. “You’ve got to just understand that it’s going to come.”
Toronto also dropped three of four games to the visiting New York Yankees to start the week, making the Blue Jays 1-4 since Monday with a total of 14 runs in that span. Schneider said his players know that they need to stop pressing at the plate and focus on getting quality at bats.
“I think that they want it badly,” said Schneider. “It’s just a matter of it happening and trusting the guys in the clubhouse that it’s going to turn around.”
Yusei Kikuchi (5-1) gave up three runs on three hits, striking out three but walking four over 4 2/3 innings.
“It’s tough to put things together based on my outing today,” said Kikuchi through a translator. “They’re a tough lineup over there, I know that and I’ll reset for next time.”
Trevor Richards, Tim Mayza, Anthony Bass, Erik Swanson, and Thomas Hatch came out of the Blue Jays bullpen, with Richards allowing a run and Swanson two.
New York’s 6-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Friday moved them a game ahead of Toronto in the standings. The Boston Red Sox’s 6-1 win over the San Diego Padres put them into a tie with the Blue Jays 7 1/2 games back of division leader Tampa.
Adam Frazier had a two-run blast in the ninth and Anthony Santander added a solo shot in the sixth for the Orioles (29-16), who are 3 1/2 games behind the Rays.
“Any AL East series is going to be big,” said Mountcastle. “For us to come out here and get a first game W is huge.”
Kyle Gibson (5-3) limited Toronto to a run on five hits and two walks. He struck out five over seven innings. Reliever Yennier Cano allowed another run before Felix Bautista closed out the ninth.
Jansen drove in Brandon Belt in the second inning for an early Blue Jays lead. Belt had reached base after doubling to deep right and then advanced to third on Gibson’s wild pitch to Whit Merrifield.
Mountcastle answered back in the third. He launched a 96.4 m.p.h. four-seamer from Kikuchi. Mountcastle’s 10th of the season scored Joey Ortiz and Adley Rutschman for a 3-1 Baltimore lead.
“I don’t think the pitch was in a bad spot, but my breaking balls weren’t going in for strikes,” said Kikuchi. “So it was easier to zero in on the fastball.”
Santander tacked on a run in the next inning, launching an 83.2 m.p.h. change-up from Richards for his eighth homer of the year.
Bichette brought the 32,485 fans at Rogers Centre back to life in the eighth when he grounded out to second, giving Kevin Kiermaier ample time to score.
Frazier piled on in the ninth, launching an 83.6 m.p.h. slider from Swanson to deep right. He scored Jorge Mateo to make it 6-2 for the visitors.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. returned to Toronto’s lineup after missing two starts with a sore right knee. He was a pinch-hitter in the Blue Jays’ 4-2 loss to New York on Thursday night. Guerrero was the designated hitter Friday.
Schneider had an update on three injured relievers before the game. Right-handed pitcher Mitch White had “a little bit” of shoulder fatigue and would throw a side on Sunday but otherwise would pause his rehab program. Schneider also said that sidearmer Adam Cimber threw off the mound on Friday and that he’s trending in the right direction in his recovery from a strained rhomboid. Righty Zach Pop of Brampton, Ont., also threw off the mound and would do some running over the weekend as he works back into shape after a hamstring strain.
Alek Manoah (1-4) is scheduled to start for Toronto in a Saturday matinee.
Grayson Rodriguez (2-1) will go for the Orioles in the second game of their three-game set.