Wednesday, May 31, 2023
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MLB Preview: Toronto Blue Jays (18-14) at Pittsburgh Pirates (20-12)


THE LATEST: The Blue Jays lost the 4th and final match of their series in Boston last night by an 11-5 final…Were swept for the 1st time this season, the 1st time since Aug. 26-28, 2022 vs. LAA, and the 1st time in a 4-game series since July 7-10, 2022 at SEA…Have lost five games in a row for the 1st time since a five-game skid from July 2-5, 2022…Have now gone 4-6 in series finales. Toronto has won eight of its last 15 games and 17 of its last 28…Have gone 7-3 in series openers this season, winning three of the last four.

ON A GUERRE-ROLL: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. smashed a solo homer over the Green Monster in the 4th inning last night, plating Toronto’s 1st run of the game…Was his 7th longball of the year, tying him with Bo Bichette for the team lead…Homered in consecutive games for the 2nd time this season (also: April 5-6) and the 17th time in his career…Also drove in a run with a ground-rule double in the 5th, going 2-for-5 with two RBI on the night for his 12th multi-hit game of the season, trailing only Alex Verdugo (13) for the most in the AL…Has notched multiple hits in three straight games. The 24-year old is now 41-for-128 with seven doubles, seven homers, 20 RBI, and a 13BB/18K ratio for a .320 AVG (5th in the AL), a .393 OBP (6th), and a .932 OPS (8th)…His 41 hits are tied for 2nd most in the AL while his 69 total bases rank T-4th…Has recorded 62 hard-hit balls (95+ MPH) this season, four more than any other Major League hitter (2nd: Paul Goldschmidt – 58).

DOUBLE DAULTON: Daulton Varsho singled twice and drove in a run with a sacrifice fly last night, part of a 2-for-3 effort, his 8th multi-hit game of the season…Has recorded multiple hits in each of his last three contests, raising his season batting average by 35 points, from .186 to .221. The 26-year old has reached base safely in 19 of 20 road games this season, batting .270 (20-for-74) with five doubles, four homers, and 10 RBI…Owns an .833 OPS as a visitor this year, compared to a .389 mark at Rogers Centre.

BICHETTE CONTINUES TO HAPPEN: Bo Bichette doubled in the 1st inning on Thursday before driving in a run with a single in the 5th… Finished the game 2-for-5, his 12th multi-hit game of the season, tied for 2nd most in the Majors… Has gone 45-for-136 (.331) with six doubles, seven
homers, and a team-leading 22 RBI while playing in all 32 games this season…The 45 hits lead all Major League batters…Among AL hitters, currently ranks T-1st in total bases (72) and 2nd in AVG, trailing only teammate Matt Chapman (.351). Since the beginning of the 2021 season, the 25-year old shortstop has racked up 425 hits, more than any other player in the Majors (2nd: Trea Turner – 424).

IT’S TIM’S TIME: Tim Mayza tossed 1.2 frames of scoreless relief last night, giving up three hits with a strikeout…Has not allowed a run since Opening Day, and is one of two pitchers to surrender no homers and no walks with at least 10.0 innings pitched (also: Yennier Cano).

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: The Blue Jays are on a 10-day, nine-game road trip (0-4 so far) with four contests in Boston, three in Pittsburgh, and two in Philadelphia (15-17)…Their 20 road games played are the most in the AL and tied with the New York Mets for the most in the Majors…Own a 9-11 road record this year for a .450 win% (11th in the AL). Blue Jays hitters lead the AL in road hits (176) while ranking 5th in road AVG (.250), 5th in SLG (.407), 6th in OBP (.320), and 6th in OPS (.727)…The pitching staff ranks 14th in the AL in road ERA (5.40), 14th in road opponents’ batting average (.283), and 14th in road WHIP (1.45).

HITTING IT: The Blue Jays have notched 280 hits so far this season, 4th most in the AL…Are also 6th in the AL in team batting average (.255), 6th in OBP (.329), 6th in SLG (.406), and 6th in OPS (.735). Toronto’s offence has racked up at least 10 hits on 13 occasions this year, tied for 8th most among MLB clubs…Since the start of 2022, the Blue Jays have 79 such games, three more than any other team (COL – 76). The Blue Jays are one of just two AL teams who have scored a run in every game this season (also: LAA)… Have gone 50 consecutive games without being shut out, the 2nd-longest active streak in the Majors (LAA – 73G).

INTERTAINMENT: Toronto is playing its 2nd interleague series of the year after opening the season with a three-game set in St. Louis (1-2)…Led the AL with 13 interleague wins last season, which was one off the franchise’s all-time single-season record, set in 2021 (14). The Blue Jays have connected for 647 home runs all-time in Interleague Play, the most among all 30 teams

VS. THE PIRATES: All-Time: 11-7
2022: 3-0 Road: 5-4
Road: 3-0 PNC Park: 5-4
The Blue Jays took all three games at PNC Park last season, outscoring the Pirates by a 12-4 margin and notching four runs in each contest…Have won each of the last five meetings and six of the last seven, dating back to 2014. Brandon Belt leads all current Blue Jays with 50 career games against the Pirates, posting a .291 batting average (50-for-172) with 19 doubles, one triple, three home runs, and 18 RBI (.828 OPS)…Has recorded multiple hits in nine of his 31 visits to PNC Park. Whit Merrifield has notched 14 hits in 11 career games with an at-bat vs. PIT, batting .318 (14-for-44) with two doubles, a homer, five RBI, and six walks for a .400 OBP and an .832 OPS…Has reached base safely in each of those 11 meetings with the Pirates. Bo Bichette has played just three career games against the Pirates, all coming last season…Drove in five of the 12 runs scored by the Blue Jays in that three-game set in Pittsburgh, going 6-for-12 (.500) with a pair of doubles, a home run, and a walk (1.455 OPS).

STARTING PITCHER – Chris Bassitt, RHP #40
Making his 7th start of the season and his 4th on the road…Lasted 5.0 innings his last time out on 4/30 vs. SEA, allowing 4 runs on 2 hits and 4 walks with a season-high-tying 7 strikeouts (also: 7K on 4/13 vs. DET). Has posted a career road record of 29-15 (.659 win%), the 7th-best road record in the divisional era (since 1969), min. 60 starts. Signed a three-year, $63 million deal with the Blue Jays on 12/16/22.

Logged 6.1 innings of work on 4/24 vs. CWS, allowing 2 runs on 3 hits, while walking 3 and recording 4 strikeouts…Left the game in the 7th with right lower back tightness…Was his 4th straight quality start, going 3-1 with a 2.19 ERA (6 ER/24.2 IP) over that span. Picked up his 2nd win of the year on 4/18 at HOU, throwing 6.1 innings of shutout ball with 3 hits, a walk, and 5 strikeouts…Marked his 3rd straight quality start, and his 1st scoreless outing of the season. Was saddled with the loss on 4/13 vs. DET, tossing 6.0 frames of two-run ball with 4 hits, 3 walks, and 7 strikeouts. Earned his 1st win as a Blue Jay on 4/7 at LAA, allowing 3R/2ER on 2 hits and 5 walks over 6.0 frames with 5 strikeouts. Took the loss in his Toronto debut on 4/2 at STL, giving up career highs in runs (9) and homers (4) over 3.1 innings (10H, 0BB, 0K).


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