Must read

MLB: Cleveland Guardians at Toronto Blue JaysJun 16, 2024; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Daulton Varsho (25) is greeted by team mates at home plate after hitting a grand slam home run against the Cleveland Guardians in the fifth inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Blue Jays will be looking to carry a rare power surge into the opener of a three-game series with the visiting Boston Red Sox on Monday night.

Toronto used a grand slam by Daulton Varsho and a two-run blast by Ernie Clement to beat the Cleveland Guardians 7-6 on Sunday in the rubber match of a three-game series.

The Blue Jays will complete a six-game homestand with their series against the Red Sox, who set a franchise record with nine stolen bases on Sunday night in a 9-3 drubbing of the Yankees. Boston took two of three games from New York and has won seven of its past 11 overall.

David Hamilton had four of the nine steals for the Red Sox, and he also had two hits, three runs and an RBI.

“(Hamilton) kind of carried the load there,” said Boston left fielder Jarren Duran, who went 2-for-4 with two stolen bases. “It just kind of shows that when we can run the bases like we can, it does a lot for the team and puts us really in a good spot.”

Ceddanne Rafaela went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and one steal and is 11-for-19 (.579) during a five-game hitting streak.

“Like I always say, we’re gonna battle, we’re gonna make mistakes and we’re gonna win games,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “But that was good baseball (Sunday). Expect that from us. We’re gonna push the envelope. We have a bunch of athletes, and it just happens that the three of them are getting on base.”

Perhaps Toronto could take a page out of Boston’s book, as the Blue Jays have not been able to rely on the long ball to generate offense. They have 58 homers this year, tied with the Washington Nationals for third fewest in the majors.

Toronto manager John Schneider is hoping that Sunday’s grand slam gets Varsho and the entire offense going.

“I think I’ve hit him everywhere in the lineup, which isn’t ideal,” Schneider said of Varsho. “We joke about that almost every day, me and him. That’s a huge swing, obviously. Varsho is getting a better and better understanding of where he can handle the ball.”

Still, Toronto knows it has to get creative if it wants to challenge opposing pitching staffs.

“We can obviously hit the long ball, but we’ve also got to play some small ball at times,” Varsho said. “That’s what helps us win a lot of ballgames. Isiah Kiner-Falefa does it really well — I think better than anybody else on our team — being able to play small ball and move runners.”

Right-hander Nick Pivetta (3-4, 3.88 ERA) will try to contain the Blue Jays’ lineup on Monday.

Pivetta faced the Philadelphia Phillies in his last start, getting roughed up for four runs and six hits in four innings on Wednesday. He did not factor into the decision.

In 15 career appearances (13 starts) against Toronto, Pivetta is 2-4 with a 5.35 ERA.

The Blue Jays will counter with southpaw Yusei Kikuchi (4-5, 3.26).

Kikuchi came away with a win against the Milwaukee Brewers last Tuesday, giving up three hits across five scoreless innings. He is 0-2 with a 6.11 ERA in seven career appearances (five starts) vs. Boston.

–Field Level Media

Previous article
Next article

More articles

Latest article