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Blue Jays offense sputters again, earn split with Rays

The good vibes from the Trop were diminished quickly, as the Blue Jays dropped the final game of a two-game set with Tampa Bay 3-2.

On Tuesday, a standout performance from Kevin Gausman hid most of the offensive struggles, however, today was a different story. Soft-tossing lefty Ryan Yarbrough continued to look like a Cy Young-caliber pitcher against Toronto like he always does in a game where Toronto only managed four hits.

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Yusei Kikuchi got the start for Toronto, his second since being reinstated off the IL. Although Kikuchi’s final numbers weren’t outrageous, his 3rd and 4th innings started to show signs of his June struggles. Kikuchi went four innings, giving up three hits, two runs, one walk, and five strikeouts. His first two innings were flawless; he struck out four and retired the first seven batters of the game. However, his next four batters went HBP, single, walk, and sac fly.

In the 4th inning, Kikuchi allowed a leadoff single to Randy Arozarena. A David Peralta single pushed him to second, and two batters later, Taylor Walls drove him in with RBI fielder’s choice. With Kikuchi’s pitch count getting high, and increased traffic on the bases, John Schneider went to the bullpen.

After a clean 5th inning from Trent Thornton, Adam Cimber pitched the 6th inning, and allowed Peralta to cash in a leadoff single from Jose Siri. It was the only time a Jays reliever had trouble today, and, unfortunately, it turned out to be the costly run.

As for the offense, outside of Teoscar Hernandez, Toronto did not threaten the Rays one bit. Even worse, it wasn’t like the Jays couldn’t cash in with runners on base. They were 1-5 with RISP, showing how many true opportunities the Jays had to score runs. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. led off the game with a double to center field, and Hernandez cashed him in with a two out RBI double to give Toronto the lead early.

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Hernandez would hit a solo home run off of Yarbrough in the 4th inning, giving Toronto a 2-1 lead. After that, the Blue Jays would not have a single baserunner until Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit a single in the 8th inning.

Toronto will head up north to face the Minnesota Twins in a four game series next. Alek Manoah will start tomorrow against Sonny Gray. Minnesota, as of Wednesday afternoon, leads the AL Central by one game over the Cleveland Guardians. The Twins were also big buyers at the trade deadline, so we will likely see the newly acquired Twins match up against the Jays.


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