Blue Jays fall prey to another beast of the east
It was only four games, but the New York Yankees’ stay in Toronto was so emotionally draining that Blue Jays manager John Schneider says, “It felt like we played them for two weeks.”
They didn’t exactly get a break in the group of controversial opponents with Friday’s first three-a-side game against the up-and-coming Baltimore Orioles.
The beasts of the east seem to be everywhere these days, leaving their mark on the fighting Jays. Do that for fourth place, Blue Jays.
The young, plucky Orioles arrived at the Rogers Center at the start of the long Canadian weekend and posted a sobering record as they defeated their benevolent hosts 6-2.
And with that, Toronto’s potentially troubling battle with divisional opponents continued. After losing 3-1 to the Yankees earlier in the week, they continued that deficit and are down to 5-10 against the AL East this season, a clear reversal of the 43-33 mark they faced in 2022 formed the division.
After losing four of their last five games, the Jays continue to battle for the top of the table while a plucky Orioles team full of young talent is showing all signs their strong first quarter of the season is real.
While the Jays’ current lull isn’t a cause for panic — it’s not much at this point in the season, and we’re less than a week away from a Jays win over the Braves — remember — there are concerns .
For example, a flat record of 25-20 is the same the Jays had in 2022 after 45 games last season. Worse still, the Yankees won right after their win over the Jays in Cincinnati on Friday, taking the Jays down to fourth in the division and now 7.5 games behind the division-leading Rays.
The recent slide has been frustrating on several levels: the emotional decline of the Yankees streak, the fact that they’re currently playing 17 games in 17 days, and the brutal 11-straight loss to three teams ahead of them in the division is a major challenge.
“They’re awesome and they play good baseball,” said Jays starter Kevin Gausman, who will get the ball against the O’s on Sunday. “Just like any AL East team, you have to get the better of them. They beat us last year. They really showed our energy in every game we played against them.”
In front of a crowd of 32,485 under the closed roof of Rogers Center, the Orioles played a more efficient game than the Jays, taking advantage of left starter Yusei Kikuchi, who didn’t have the punching power he’d shown in most of his starts this season.
All six Orioles runs were fueled by home runs, with the visitors improving to 29-16.
AT THE TOP OF THE MOUNTCASTLE
Exit the Yankees and known Jays killer Aaron Judge, enter the O’s and another Toronto spotter.
When Baltimore’s Ryan Mountcastle hit a three-run home run in the third inning, it was his 15th in 43 games against the Jays, an incredibly deadly streak of destruction.
Mountcastle, the O’s hard-hitting first baseman, was also the owner of Kikuchi and hit four home runs in just 11 of his career at bats. So it’s no wonder that when Mountcastle was set to play in the fifth final, Schneider didn’t want any of it and went in the bullpen for Trevor Richards.
Mountcastle has more hits, home runs, extra base hits and batting average against the Jays than any opponent he has faced at least 15 times.
CONTINUE TO PLAY
Sensing an unlikely rebound in the eighth, the Jays met deadly O’s substitute Yennier Cano, who had not allowed a run in 17 innings with 21.2 scoreless innings and just four hits. A leadoff single by Kevin Kiermaier was followed, of course, by a double by George Springer, and the Jays had cut the O’s lead to 4-2. … However, the Orioles’ lead quickly increased to four in the ninth round when Adam Frazier hit a two-run throw … The Jays had the early lead and opened the scoring when an RBI single from Danny Jansen slotted in Brandon Belt, who was with Reached a two-out single…Kikuchi lasted just 4.2 innings in his ninth start of the season. While he kept the Orioles to just three hits and three homers, there was no run support from the struggling Jays lineup.
OH THE O’S
If the tendency is to dismiss the Orioles as a young team with a good start, when will that end?
They came to Toronto with the second best record in the majors, just 3.5 games behind the AL East leaders Tampa Bay Rays. They have now won 19 of their last 29 and are 7-6 against division opponents.
“You have an increased awareness of who you’re playing against,” manager John Schneider said of the grueling run against division opponents. “(The Orioles) are good. They’re on the rise, and whenever you switch the script from a rebuild to competitive, some competitive juices flow on both sides.”
AROUND THE BASE
After a few nights off due to a minor right knee injury, Vlad Guerrero Jr. was back in the DH squad. Guerrero ran the bases aggressively before the game and was declared fit and ready… Adam Cimber threw off the mound ahead of Friday’s game and is close to returning to the Jays’ bullpen… As Cimber is likely to return to the active lineup this weekend , Don’t expect Nate Pearson to be the one to go the other way. With an excellent curveball and signature fastball, his confidence grows with every use. In eight appearances so far, Pearson has a decent 2.7 ERA.
https://torontosun.com/sports/baseball/toronto-blue-jays/blue-jays-fall-to-another-beast-of-the-east-slipping-to-fourth-in-the-division Blue Jays fall prey to another beast of the east
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