The visiting Toronto Blue Jays went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position in their 6-5 loss to the Cleveland Guardians on Thursday.
The Blue Jays hope for better success in key moments on Saturday when they play a traditional doubleheader in Cleveland. The teams’ scheduled Friday game was postponed due to inclement weather.
Although Toronto has lost three of four and is coming off a tight setback in the series opener, Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo refuses to get frustrated.
“I’m the ultimate believer,” he said. “I know they’re going to do it. I don’t know when that is, but hopefully it’s soon.”
The Blue Jays have too many good hitters to struggle very long, but their recent history in Cleveland isn’t good. They have 11 of their past 15 regular-season contests at Progressive Field dating back to 2016, the same year they went 0-2 at Cleveland in the American League Championship Series.
Toronto All-Star shortstop Bo Bichette is heating up after batting .200 through his first 21 games this year. He went 3-for-5 on Thursday, making him 11-for-24 (.458) in his past six games.
“Good hitters are going to hit,” Montoyo said. “You’ve just got to be patient with them, and they’re going to get to where they’re going to get by the time the season is over.”
Toronto right fielder Teoscar Hernandez, sidelined since April 14 due to an oblique injury, is expected to be activated Saturday or Sunday. He could move right back into the cleanup spot behind slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
“He protects Vladdy, too,” Montoyo said. “You don’t want to pitch to Vladdy? Then go ahead and pitch to Teoscar.”
Cleveland ace Shane Bieber (1-1, 2.45 ERA) will face right-hander Kevin Gausman (2-1, 2.27) in Game 1 on Saturday, with Guardians right-hander Triston McKenzie (1-2, 2.70) going against right-hander Ross Stripling (0-0, 3.79) in the nightcap. It will be Cleveland’s second doubleheader in four days, which can do damage to a pitching staff.
Bieber is 2-0 with a 2.11 ERA in three career starts vs. Toronto. He has gone deeper in each of his five starts this year. The right-hander went seven innings and 105 pitches — both season highs — in his last outing against the Oakland A’s on April 30.
Gausman is 2-3 with a 2.45 ERA in five career appearances (four starts) against Cleveland. He is 1-1 with a 3.12 ERA in two games (one start) at Progressive Field.
McKenzie lost his lone career appearance against Toronto last Aug. 5, when he gave up three runs in seven innings. Stripling is 2-0 with a 3.55 ERA in three outings (two starts) against the Guardians and 1-0 with 6.75 ERA in two games (one start) at Progressive Field.
Cleveland outfielder Steve Kwan continues to put the bat on the ball during his rookie season. He has hit safely in his past five games, knocking in four runs in that span, leaving his average at .328.
He hit a two-run shot on Thursday, the first long ball of his major league career.
“Every time I hit a home run, it’s a shock to me,” Kwan said. “I never try to hit one. I’m not strong enough.”
He had to trade a signed bat to a kid who caught the ball in the right field bleachers.
“This month has been pure ecstasy,” Kwan said.
Kwan certainly didn’t feel out of sorts with the rain on Thursday.
“I played at Oregon State,” he said. “It’s just another day at the ballpark.”
–Field Level Media