Thursday, June 8, 2023

Berrios makes solid launch for Toronto that beats Atlanta

Bo Bechette hit a tiebreaking single in the seventh inning and went 2 for 4 with two RBI as the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Atlanta Braves 5-2 on Saturday.

The Blue Jays won their second straight game over the Braves, handing Atlanta their first road series loss this season. The Braves won six straight road series to start the year before traveling to northern Canada.

Bichette finished the game as the major league hit leader with 54.

“He’s very talented,” said Braves manager Brian Snitker. “I hate playing against him, but it’s fun to watch because he’s a very talented young man. The ball pops off his bat.”

Eric Swanson (2-1) threw five outs for the win and Jordan Romano earned his 10th save in 12 chances.

Toronto has won eight straight games over Atlanta, winning all six games in 2021 before winning the last two. It was Atlanta’s longest losing streak against a single opponent since 2015, when the Braves lost nine games in a row against Washington.

After AJ Minter (2-5) hit back-to-back singles off the ball in the seventh, Kevin Kiermaier and George Springer each stole doubles to put runners on second and third. Bichet drove in Kiermaier with a base hit before Vladimir Guerrero Jr. made it 4–2 with a sacrifice fly.

Toronto’s 654 interleague homers are the most by any major league team, but they did not need one to beat the Braves, instead relying on baserunning and timely hitting.

“I think we can still hit home runs, but it’s fun to play and win like this,” Bichette said.

Minter led the National League in 2022 with 61 scoreless appearances. This year, he lost three times in four games through late April, and has now lost back-to-back games after being on the wrong end of Wednesday’s loss in Boston.

“You just have to get over it,” Snitker said. “He will, he’s done it before. He’s a year away from being one of baseball’s most effective relievers, but this game is cruel. Just keep testing yourself.”

Danny Jansen hit an RBI double off Joe Jimenez in the eighth to increase Toronto’s lead to three.

Kiermaier had three hits and scored twice, and Whit Merrifield had three stolen bases and an RBI for Toronto.

Atlanta’s Marcel Ozuna hit a two-run homer in the second, his seventh, after being hit by a 3-2 pitch from José Berrios.

Guerrero hit a leadoff double in the fourth, blocking his hit with a header slide to second base. He moved to third on Matt Chapman’s infield single and scored on Whit Merrifield’s groundout.

Atlanta put runners on the corners with two out in the top of the fifth, but Springer went on to dive to catch Eddie Rosario’s line drive to end the threat.

“Great play by George,” said Blue Jays manager John Schneider. “He put the game where it should be.”

Toronto tied it up in the bottom half when Kiermaier led off with a double to shallow right field, advanced on a wild pitch, and scored on Bichette’s two-out single.

Atlanta loaded the bases in the seventh against Yimi Garcia with no outs but was unable to break the impasse. Garcia struck out after Sean Murphy rolled out on a fielder’s choice. Swanson comes in and hits Rosario, then OG drives away the Albies.

The Braves have scored four total runs in the last three games, all losses.

“You’re going to go through these phases,” said Sneaker. “You just have to keep fighting.”

Ozuna has homered five times in his last seven games.

Toronto is 11–3 north of the border, the best start of 14 home games in team history.

Blue Jays LHP Yusei Kikuchi (5-0, 3.35) put his unbeaten record on the line in Sunday’s series finale. RHP Collin McHugh (1-0, 3.38) will start for the Braves, his first since Tampa Bay in 2020.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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