On a day when the Blue Jays lost Hyun-Jin Ryu due to season-ending surgery, Yusei Kikuchi failed to show up yet again. Thank the baseball gods Ross Stripling has emerged as a reliable starter because the Jays are down to just three of five members of their opening day rotation that can be trusted.
Kikuchi struggled with his control early on and the Orioles jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the third. The Jays would tie the game at three in the fourth inning but never held a lead against the bottom dwellers of the American League East.
The game would end 6-5 Orioles after some clutch at bats from rookie catcher Gabriel Moreno brought it within one run. Orioles closer Jorge López continued his stellar season with a perfect five-out save to seal the win for Baltimore.
The Blue Jays fall to 36-25 on the season and just 5-3 over their last eight games against three of the weakest teams in the AL (Royals, Tigers, and Orioles).
Things Worth Mentioning…
Gabriel Moreno has arrived. Before he even took the plate against Orioles starter Jordan Lyles, Moreno already had fans leaving their seats. After a one-out single in the second inning, Baltimore speedster Jorge Mateo tried to steal second on the young backstop but a perfect throw to Cavan Biggio sent Mateo back to the dugout.
That was just the beginning for Moreno on Tuesday night. He followed up that throw with a first pitch single in the third and later had two clutch hits with runners on third to go 3-4 with the first two RBI’s of his young career.
After his shortest outing of the season against Kansas City last week, Kikuchi struggled with his command again. In four plus innings of work, he walked four, and gave up five hits (including two home runs). It has now been nearly a month since his last quality start against Seattle on May 16th. Throwing strikes wasn’t his only issue tonight. When he was over the plate, he got hit hard.
The pitching struggles continued for the Jays when Kikuchi was relieved in favour of Trevor Richards. Acquired from the Brewers for fan-favourite Rowdy Tellez last season, Richards has completely lost his 2021 form. With this line tonight,
Richards has now given up nine runs over his last seven innings of work dating back to May 31st (seven appearances). That’s a far cry from his 3.31 ERA and .796 WHIP last season.
The pitching wasn’t all bad on Tuesday night. It just took manager Charlie Montoyo 5.1 innings until he put in someone who could be trusted. After Richards was pulled for Trent Thornton, Thornton kept the game in reach by allowing just one hit and zero runs over 2.2 innings.
Thornton’s strong season improved as he continues to audition for Ross Stripling’s swiss army knife position.
Tim Mayza went on to pitch a perfect ninth to keep the Jays within one going into the home half but the big bats failed to complete the comeback. Bichette, Guerrero Jr, and Hernandez were set down one, two, three, and the game ended by a score of 6-5.