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Photo Credit: © Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Yusei Kikuchi struggles again in 7-4 loss to Baltimore

Remember the days when the Blue Jays would beat the Orioles 22-7? Or when the Orioles would be no-hitting the Jays through 6 innings, and Toronto would score 11 in the 7th? Yeah, me too.

Those days may be over for now, as the surprisingly competitive Baltimore Orioles defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 7-4 on Monday night. It was Toronto’s first trip to Camden Yards this year, and they’ll need to get used to it, with 8 more games there this season.

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The Jays were once again crippled by a rough start from Yusei Kikuchi. Although he did finish his outing relatively strong, he dug the Jays in a hole early. Kikuchi walked two of the first three batters in the 1st. Later in the inning, with two on and two out, Ramon Urias torched a Kikuchi fastball into the left field seats to put Baltimore ahead 3-0. Not ideal.

The Orioles weren’t done there. The 3rd inning featured solo home runs from Anthony Santander and Ryan Mountcastle. Both of those home runs came with two outs. Mountcastle has been a Blue Jays assassin (which is the correct adjective). Over the last two seasons, Mountcastle has 11 homers and 21 RBIs against Toronto. Blue Jays fans would’ve loved to see him dealt at the trade deadline. Kikuchi only threw first pitch strikes 8 of 22 batters tonight, easily contributing to the three walks he surrendered and the meatballs he was forced to throw for homers. His final line was 5 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, and 4 K’s.

As for the offense, the Blue Jays threatened the Orioles all night with baserunners. However, they reminded us who the April Blue Jays were by leaving ten runners on base. Kikuchi’s start was frustrating, but looking at the offensive numbers makes it even worse. They were 1-7 with RISP, had 12 hits on the game (more than Baltimore), and wasted a 3-hit night from Raimel Tapia.

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The opportunities the Jays spoiled were aplenty. Teoscar Hernandez grounded into an inning-ending double play with runners on the corners with one out in the 5th, and Whit Merrifield grounded out to strand runners on first and second in the 8th. With two on in the 9th, Bo Bichette ended the game with a double play of his own.

Another telling stat of the night was that Blue Jays pitching gave up at least one run in the same inning that the offense scored a run. Relievers Trent Thornton and Trevor Richards were unable to keep the Orioles put, giving up one run apiece. It’s very obvious that games against Baltimore are not easy W’s to count on the schedule anymore, and they’ve become a serious player in the Wild Card race, despite presenting themselves as sellers at the trade deadline.

Toronto will look to even things up tomorrow evening, with Alek Manoah getting the start for the Jays. Baltimore will send out Kyle Bradish.


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