Friday, June 2, 2023
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MLB Preview: Toronto Blue Jays (19-14) at Pittsburgh Pirates (20-13)


THE LATEST: The Blue Jays snapped their season-worst five-game losing skid last night, opening their weekend series in Pittsburgh with a 4-0 win…Was the team’s 5th shutout of the season, trailing only the Rays (6) for the most among Major League clubs…Improved to 8-3 in series openers this year. Toronto has won nine of its last 16 games and 18 of its last 29…With a win tonight, can improve to 8-3-0 in series play this year (4-3-0 on the road).

SPRINGER DINGER: George Springer doubled the Blue Jays lead last night with a two-run home run in the top of the 5th inning…Was his 4th longball of the season and his 1st since April 14 vs. TB, snapping a skid of 17 straight homerless games…The blast was his 182nd career home run while batting 1st, breaking a tie with Craig Biggio and Jimmy Rollins for 5th most in MLB history.

TWO-HIT WHIT: Whit Merrifield doubled and scored in the 4th inning on Friday before singling in the 6th, part of a 2-for-4 effort, his 7th multi-hit game of the season…Also stole three bases in a single game for the 5th time in his career (last: June 19, 2021 vs. BOS)…Was the 1st Blue Jay to swipe a trio of bags since Kevin Pillar on March 31, 2018 vs. NYY. The 34-year old has batted .301 (28-for-93) this year with nine doubles, 10 RBI, eight walks, and seven stolen bases, reaching base safely in 24 of his 26 games.

ROYAL DAULTON: Daulton Varsho lined an RBI double to the right field corner in the 4th inning last night, finishing the game 1-for-3 with a walk and his 6th stolen base of the year…Is riding a season-long four-game hitting streak, going 7-for-14 (.500) with two doubles, two homers, and six RBI (1.571 OPS). The 26-year old has reached base safely in 19 of his 20 road games with an at-bat this season, hitting .273 (21-for-77) with six doubles, four homers, and 11 RBI… Owns an .847 OPS as a visitor this year, compared to a .389 mark at Rogers Centre.

ON A GUERRE-ROLL: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. extended his hitting streak to five games with an RBI single in the 1st inning last night, finishing the game 1-for-4. The 24-year old is now 42-for-132 with seven doubles, seven homers, 21 RBI, and a 13BB/19K ratio for a .318 AVG (6th in the AL), a .389 OBP (9th), and a .920 OPS (11th)…His 42 hits are 2nd most in the AL while his 70 total bases rank T-5th…Has recorded 64 hard-hit balls (95+ MPH) this season, four more than any other Major League hitter (2nd: Paul Goldschmidt – 60).

EXTRA! EXTRA!: The Blue Jays have notched 98 extra-base hits this season, good for 5th most among American League clubs…Have recorded an extra-base hit in all but one game this season, doing so in each of their last 31 contests, trailing only the Pirates (59) for the longest active streak in the Majors.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: The Blue Jays are on a 10-day, nine-game road trip (1-4 so far) with four contests in Boston, three in Pittsburgh, and two in Philadelphia (15-18)…Their 21 road games played are the most in the Majors (NYM – 20G)…Own a 10-11 road record this year for a .476 win% (9th in the AL). Blue Jays hitters lead MLB in road hits (184) while ranking 5th in the AL in road OPS (.729), 6th in AVG (.250), 6th in SLG (.409), and 7th in OBP (.320)…The pitching staff ranks 14th in the AL in road ERA (5.13), 14th in road opponents’ batting average (.277), and 14th in road WHIP (1.42).

HITTING IT: The Blue Jays have notched 288 hits so far this season, 4th most in the AL…Are also 6th in the AL in team batting average (.254), 6th in OBP (.329), 6th in SLG (.408), and 6th in OPS (.737). 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 51 consecutive games without being shut out, the 2nd-longest active streak in the Majors (LAA – 74G).

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 648 home runs all-time in Interleague Play, the most among all 30 teams.

AIN’T NOTHIN’ BUT A HOUND DOG: Chris Bassitt turned in his best outing as a Blue Jay on Friday night, tossing a 7.0 shutout frames while scattering four hits and four walks with five strikeouts… Five of his seven appearances this year have been quality starts…Over his last six games, has gone 4-1 with a 2.45 ERA (10 ER/36.2 IP) and a 1.06 WHIP while holding hitters to a .152 AVG…Now owns a career road record of 30-15 (.667), the 4th-best record since 1969, min. 60 starts, trailing only Shane Bieber (.761), Pedro Martinez (.683), and David Price (.669)

STARTING PITCHER – José Berríos, RHP #17
Making his 7th start of the season and his 5th on the road…Allowed 5 runs on a season-high 11 hits and 2 walks with 4 strikeouts over 5.1 frames in his last start on 5/1 at BOS. Owns a career record of 14-6 in the month of May (.700), the 5th-best mark among active pitchers, min. 30 starts. Has made 146 starts since the beginning of 2018, tied for the 3rd most among MLB hurlers (Aaron Nola – 150, Gerrit Cole – 147).

Worked 7.0 shutout frames on 4/25 vs. CWS, scattering 4 singles and a walk with a season-high 9 strikeouts…Completed 7.0 innings in consecutive starts for the 13th time in his career (last: 3G from 6/4- 15/22)…Has allowed 3 runs over his last 3 starts, posting a 1.42 ERA (3
ER/19.0 IP) with a pair of walks and 18 punchouts. Took the loss on 4/19 at HOU, giving up 2 runs on 3 hits and a walk over 7.0 frames with 3 strikeouts…Was his 1st quality start of the year. Picked up his 1st win of the year on 4/14 vs. TB, tossing 5.0 innings of one-run ball with 4 hits, no walks, and 6 strikeouts…Was removed from the game with a left knee contusion after being hit by a comebacker from Yandy Díaz. Lost his 2nd game of the year on 4/8 at LAA, surrendering 6R/4ER over 4.0+ frames with 6 hits, a walk, and 5 strikeouts (71 pitches – 43 strikes). Took the loss in his season debut on 4/3 at KC, giving up 8 runs on 9 hits and a pair of walks over 5.2 innings with 7 strikeouts.


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