Saturday, April 15, 2023

Game #15 - Tampa Bay Rays (13-2) @ Toronto Blue Jays (10-5) - game recap


Yusei Kikuchi threw 6 strong innings in a 5-2 win over the Rays 

After a solid win over the Rays that ended their 13 game undefeated streak that tied the modern day record for longest win streak to start a season, the Blue Jays were looking to make it two straight wins. Yusei Kikuchi got the start with Danny Jansen behind the plate. Alejandro Kirk served as DH and Whit Merrifield was at 2B. Could the Blue Jays make it two straight wins? Here is today's game recap. 

Game Highlights:

  • Calvin Faucher pitching line: 2.2IP 2H 1R (earned) 1BB 2K 42 pitches (2y5 for strikes)
  • The Blue Jays opened the scoring in the bottom of the 3rd on a ground out by Bo Bichette that scored Kevin Kiermaier 
  • The Rays tied the game in the top of the 4th as Taylor Walls smacked a solo jack to left
  • The Blue Jays retook the lead in the bottom half of the inning as Whit Merrifield doubled scoring Alejandro Kirk 
  • A batter later, Danny Jansen singled home Merrifield 
  • The Blue Jays added a run in the bottom of the 6th on a bases loaded walk to George Springer that forced in Matt Chapman 
  • Yusei Kikuchi pitching line: 6IP 4H 1R (earned) 1BB 9K 94 pitches (67 for strikes)
  • The Blue Jays added a run in the bottom of the 7th as Kirk singled scoring Daulton Varsho 
  • The Rays got one back in the top of the 8th on a ground out by Randy Arozarena that scored Wander Franco 
  • Jordan Romano pitched a scoreless 9th for his 6th save of the season
  • Final score: Blue Jays 5 Rays 2

My Take: 

  • Yusei Kikuchi threw six strong innings, giving up a run on four hits while walking one and striking out nine. He rebounded nicely after a rough start that had fans and likely Blue Jays coaching and management concerned that he was relapsing back to his rough 2022 Form that saw him eventually taken off out of the rotation and put in the bullpen to be used primarily in low leverage situations. One really good sign so far. This season is the lack of walks that Kikuchi has given up. Last season, Kikuchi struggled to find the strike zone, which drove up his pitch count and also led to a lot of innings where he was having to work hard to get batters out and was dealing with runners on base most innings. After allowing the only run he gave up on a solo shot in the 4th inning, Kikuchi retired the final eight batters he faced. In fact, he was so efficient in his final inning, I would have given him the start of the 7th inning but had a reliever warming up. At the same time, he was over 90 pitches at that point and it would have been better to end his day on a positive note.
  • The bullpen gave up a run on 4 hits while walking 2 and striking out 3 over the final 3 innings. Closer jordan romano did not have his most efficient outing, but that may have been because he was tired having pitched yesterday. Romano was able to bear down and get the final 2 outs after the Rays loaded the bases with three hits. It is unlikely that Romano will be available to pitch tomorrow in a save situation
  • Offensively, the blue jays showed more patience and smart base running with runs coming on a bases loaded walk and a ground out. DH Alejandro Kirk contributed  a run and later an RBI single.
  • Some 42 moments in honor of Jackie Robinson day: 
    • Rays starting pitcher Calvin Faucher threw 42 pitches today 
    • Kikuchi's groundout to flyout ratio was 4-2 
    • Jordan Romano threw 24 pitches today (okay it's not 42 but if you flip the numbers around it becomes forty two, close enough in my books
  • Up next, the Blue Jays try to make it three in a row against the Rays and overall and notch their first series sweep of the season. Alek Manoah Start against Rays lefty Shane McClanahan in a battle of the aces.