TORONTO – Alejandro Kirk had two home runs, including a two-run shot, to power the Toronto Blue Jays past the Angels 6-1 on Saturday after a scary incident when Los Angeles left-fielder Taylor Ward was struck by a pitch.
Santiago Espinal’s two-run homer also scored Kirk as Toronto (59-46) won its third straight. Whit Merrifield drove in another run in the same inning with an RBI double.
Starter Alek Manoah allowed a run on four hits and three walks over 4 1/3 innings while striking out six.
Genesis Cabrera (2-1), Jay Jackson, Trevor Richards, Nate Pearson and Yimi Garcia were scoreless in relief the rest of the way for Toronto.
Ward was drilled in the face by an errant pitch in a bases-loaded situation for the Angels’ (54-51) only run. He was carted off the field by paramedics.
Reid Detmers (2-8) allowed three hits, including Espinal’s two-run homer, striking out five over 4 2/3 innings. Reynaldo Lopez, Aaron Loup, Jaime Barria came out of L.A.’s bullpen.
Manoah has struggled with his command all season, with his earned-run average climbing as high as 6.98 on April 16.
He was in control for the first four innings Saturday, fanning six and giving up no runs, but struggled to find the strike zone in the fifth.
Luis Rengifo doubled to left field with one out before Manoah intentionally walked slugger Shohei Ohtani. Mickey Moniak then drew a walk to load the bases.
That brought Angels left-fielder Taylor Ward to the plate. He drew two balls when the third pitch — a 91.7 m.p.h. sinker — struck him in the face, dropping him to the ground. Players from both teams took a knee out of respect for Ward as medics attended to him.
Ward was taken off the field on a paramedic’s cart with a towel covering his face and Andrew Velazquez was inserted as a pinch runner. That hit by pitch pushed Rengifo across home plate for a 1-0 Los Angeles lead.
A visibly shaken Manoah was pulled from the game in favour of Cabrera, who fanned Mike Moustakas and induced a popout my Matt Thaiss. Despite loading the bases and walking in a run, Manoah’s ERA still dropped to 5.87 from 6.10.
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Espinal replied for Toronto in the bottom half of the inning. He took a 93.5 m.p.h four-seam fastball from Detmers to deep left-field, landing in the Blue Jays bullpen where Jackson was warming up. The Toronto reliever caught the ball on the bounce and tossed it to a fan before continuing his routine.
Espinal’s second homer of the season also scored Kirk, who had reached base on a single, to give the Blue Jays a 2-1 lead.
Kirk tacked on another run in the seventh inning, hitting his fifth home run of the season to the delight of the sold-out Rogers Centre crowd of 41,997. His homer came off of Loup, a former member of Toronto’s bullpen.
Three batters later, Merrifield came to the plate. His line drive to deep right field was more than enough for him to reach second base standing up and scored Kevin Kiermaier from first for a 4-1 lead.
Kirk hit his second homer of the day — sixth of the season — in the next inning. That 407-foot bomb also scored Danny Jansen, who had left off the eighth with a single, for a 6-1 lead.
NEVIN SUSPENDED — Angels manager Phil Nevin was suspended one game and fined an undisclosed amount by Major League Baseball for a post-game outburst at an umpire following Los Angeles’s 4-1 loss Friday. Nevin was seen holding up a tablet computer and yelling at plate umpire Mike Estabrook as the crew left the field.
ROMANO OUT — Blue Jays closer Jordan Romano of Markham, Ont., was placed on the 15-day injured list with lower back inflammation before the game. Pearson was recalled from triple-A Buffalo in a corresponding move.
ON DECK — José Berríos (8-7) will get the start for the Blue Jays as Toronto closes out its three-game series with L.A. with an early afternoon matinee. Tyler Anderson (5-2) is scheduled for the Angels.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 29, 2023.
&© 2023 The Canadian Press
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