Three Key Things: Offense sputters further as the Blue Jays drop two of three to Milwaukee

Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Blake Perkins (16) steals second base ahead of the tag by Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Spencer Horwitz (48) in the sixth inning at American Family Field
Photo credit:Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports
Evan Stack
1 month ago
Toronto dropped yet another winnable series this week, as the NL Central-leading Brewers narrowly took two of three from the Blue Jays as they finished their road trip at American Family Field.
A couple of the below points may be predictable, and they are things we’ve talked about all season, but one of the most frustrating things is that the Brewers weren’t head-and-shoulders better than the Blue Jays. Toronto was in a position to win all three games of this series, but they couldn’t get it done. Before they start a series with the Cleveland Guardians, here are my Three Key Things from this week’s series with the Crew.

Let’s hope you took the under on the Blue Jays offense!

Are we talking about a Blue Jays series if we aren’t talking about the offense?
Referring to the subheading, outside of the 9th inning on Wednesday, you would’ve been extremely profitable taking the under on total runs in each of these three games. That was just one of the side effects of an underwhelming, uninspired, and frustrating offensive output from Toronto this week.
The Blue Jays had only four hits on Monday night, and they didn’t even draw a single walk. A Daulton Varsho bunt single, an Alejandro Kirk home run (to his credit, this was an absolute tank), and a pair of hits from Spencer Horwitz were all the Blue Jays could muster, making only a 3-1 loss seem horribly difficult to overcome. That game also included six three-up-and-three-down innings, two runners left on base, only one at-bat with a runner in scoring position, and Brewers starter Colin Rea pitching his longest outing since 2016. Again, despite all of this, it was only a two-run loss.
Toronto posted a solid 5-for-12 mark on Tuesday with runners in scoring position, leading them to a 3-1 win. If you read that again a little slower, it almost fits this team perfectly that they only scored three runs with that many RISP hits. On a more encouraging note, two of those three runs came with two outs, and it also included a massive insurance run in the top of the 9th from Danny Jansen.
Wednesday’s game may have been the most frustrating of the three, as the bats went extremely quiet after a first inning home run from Davis Schneider. Between that home run and the ninth inning, the Blue Jays went 2-for-23 with a walk, but one of the hits was immediately picked off at first and the walk was erased by an inning-ending double play.
Toronto trailed 5-1 entering the 9th inning, but after starting the inning with four straight hits, they cut the lead down to two with no one out. Furthermore, they had the bases loaded with this situation, but George Springer struck out on three pitches, Kirk drove in another run with a sac fly, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. lined out to end the game. To Kirk and Guerrero’s credit, they had very productive at-bats, but overcoming a two-run deficit with the bases loaded still felt insurmountable.
Starting pitcher Chris Bassitt voiced his opinion on the state of the team after Wednesday’s loss. Bassitt has pitched 13 innings of scoreless baseball between each of his last two starts, but the Blue Jays have lost both of those games.

Yusei Kikuchi bounces back well

Yusei Kikuchi’s evolution as a Blue Jay has been one of the most encouraging stories in recent Blue Jays history. His inaugural year with Toronto has been well documented, as his struggles sent him to the bullpen for the latter two months of the 2022 season. His spot in the 2023 rotation had to be earned in Spring Training.
He earned his spot in last year’s rotation, and he has been one of Toronto’s best arms this season as well as posting stellar numbers last season. Kikuchi had a minor string of unfavorable starts just a short while ago, but that has clearly been put in the rearview mirror. Through the first eight starts of the season, Kikuchi owned a 2.64 ERA and a K-to-BB ratio of 46 to 9. However, Kikuchi pitched to a 7.53 ERA between his next three starts, allowing a lot of hard-hit balls and walking a lot of batters as the league started to adjust to the southpaw.
Like I said, this was just a blip for Yusei, as his last two outings against Baltimore and Tuesday night against these Brewers have been just what the doctor ordered – 11 innings total, one earned run, seven hits, and eleven strikeouts – and the team has won both of those starts.
He didn’t toss a no-hitter or pitch a complete game, but Kikuchi never unraveled, and he deserves a lot of credit for how well he’s established himself as one of Toronto’s best arms in the past two seasons.

Great start for Spencer Horwitz

Horwitz has been as advertised to start his 2024 tenure with the Blue Jays. Sure, I’m shouting him out after only five games with the club, but the Blue Jays are 100% welcoming his play with open arms.
The lefty-batter had an excellent series at the plate, going 6-for-12 with a double, two RBIs, and a walk. He spent two games in the leadoff position, and with Schneider cooling down over the past two weeks, Horwitz may find himself there more often. He had hits to all fields coming against lefties and righties, and the Jays moved him around between second and first base throughout the week.
At one point in Wednesday’s game, all six of Toronto’s hits were from the three “Buffalo Boys” in Horwitz, Schneider, and Ernie Clement. There’s another good summation of how this team has performed this season, especially when you consider 4-for-31 mark that Guerrero Jr., Springer, and Bo Bichette posted this week.

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