Instant Reaction: Small ball Blue Jays jump on Cleveland early and even series with a 5-0 win

Photo credit:© Nick Turchiaro - USA Today
Evan Stack
26 days ago
They got knocked down on Friday (in an ugly way), but the Blue Jays got right back up.
Six Blue Jays pitchers combined to toss a shutout and Isiah Kiner-Falefa had a two-hit game as the Blue Jays blanked Cleveland 5-0 on Saturday afternoon. The Blue Jays improved to 26-3 when scoring at least five runs, and they remain four games back in the Wild Card race.

Things worth mentioning

Davis Schneider and Ernie Clement were both held out of the lineup today, much to the surprise and chagrin of many Jays fans considering they both accounted for much of Toronto’s offense last night. That didn’t turn out to be a factor, however, as the Jays still scored five runs despite only having one extra-base hit and being out hit by Cleveland.
It was the second straight day that the Guardians’ starter threw 11 pitches or less in the first inning, but in typical 2024 Blue Jays fashion, they made the second inning count! Toronto accumulated four hits, a walk, and a sacrifice bunt in the bottom of the second inning, pushing them to a 3-0 lead by the end of the frame. Their 50 runs in the second inning is the most, ahead of both the Baltimore Orioles and the Milwaukee Brewers, who both had 43 runs in the frame.
Justin Turner led off the second with a 10-pitch at-bat that resulted in a walk. Daulton Varsho doubled to put runners on second and third with no one out, and George Springer jumped on a first-pitch fastball for an RBI single to put the first run of the day on the board.
Recently called up Addison Barger made his first start since May 1st, and he was able to collect his first RBI in the major leagues with a slow rolling single to left centre field. Barger’s RBI was a “hit ’em where they ain’t” kind of hit, as Guardians shortstop Brayan Rocchio scampered towards second base before the pitch to cover a potential stolen base opportunity from Springer. Barger’s hit rolled directly where Rocchio would’ve been, and the Blue Jays took a 2-0 lead.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s sacrifice bunt moved Barger and Springer up 90 feet, and Spencer Horwitz flared a single to left field to cash in Springer to complete the three-run frame.
Kiner-Falefa would extend the lead further in the fourth inning with an RBI single to centre field, and the Blue Jays would take a 4-0 lead. Toronto loaded the bases in the fifth inning on a pair of HBPs and an infield single, giving them a prime opportunity to blow the game wide open. However, Varsho drove in a run with a double play, and that was all the Blue Jays could muster for the rest of the game.
Building a 5-0 lead was all Toronto’s pitching needed though, as Trevor Richards set the tone as the team’s opener. He went 2.1 innings on 31 pitches, allowing one hit, zero runs, zero walks, and striking out one batter. Richards generated only four whiffs in the game, but he made up for that with his ability to keep the ball in the yard and out of harms way. Of his seven balls put in play, six were outs, and only one was hit further than 300 feet, a fly out to left field from Will Brennan.
To complete the third inning, John Schneider appeared to play the match-up game, going to Tim Mayza to face a slew of lefties. Mayza would only record one out and allow a pair of base hits, but Zach Pop would finish the inning and strand the inherited runners.
That gave way to Bowden Francis, who pitched four fine innings today, allowing four hits, no runs, no walks, and two strikeouts. Today’s outing makes it nine consecutive scoreless innings for Francis in both starting and bulk relief roles, as a once-12.96 ERA has slowly but surely made its way down to 6.23.
Génesis Cabrera and Nate Pearson took care of the 8th and 9th innings, respectively, each stranding a baserunner. Due to the nature of the game, J. Schneider was able to keep Chad Green and Yimi García out of the game, surely making them both available for tomorrow’s series finale.
Up Next: After a dud on Friday, the Blue Jays can right the ship and win the series tomorrow afternoon with Jose Berrios taking the mound. They’ll face right-hander Ben Lively, who has never pitched against the Blue Jays before, but he hasn’t allowed more than three runs in all 10 of his starts this year.

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