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Mountcastle leads Orioles past Blue Jays 4-2

TORONTO – Ryan Mountcastle went 2 for 3 at the plate, driving in three runs, and the Baltimore Orioles topped the Toronto Blue Jays 4-2 on Monday.

Worse yet, the Blue Jays lost star shortstop Bo Bichette to a right-knee injury during the game.

Gunnar Henderson had a solo homer as Baltimore (65-41) opened the critical four-game series between the division rivals with a win.

Kyle Gibson (10-6) allowed one run on four hits and two walks with five strikeouts over six innings. Relievers Danny Coulombe, Yennier Cano and Felix Bautista held off a late comeback bid.

Whit Merrifield had a solo home run in the eighth inning as Toronto (59-48) threatened to rally. Kevin Kiermaier drove in a run with a fielder’s choice.

Chris Bassitt (10-6) pitched a rocky six innings, allowing four runs on seven hits and two walks but also striking out seven. Nate Pearson and Bowden Francis combined for three innings of scoreless relief.

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Although Bassitt started the game off strong with back-to-back strikeouts, Baltimore scored early.

Anthony Santander drew a full-count walk and then Ryan O’Hearn singled. Santander narrowly avoided a tag at third to get into scoring position.

Mountcastle stroked a double down the first-base line to cash in Santander and O’Hearn for a 2-0 lead.

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Henderson tacked on a run in the third, leading off the inning with a solo shot to deep right field. His 17th home run of the season travelled 387 feet into the visitors’ dugout at Rogers Centre.

Mountcastle struck again later in the third, scoring Santander with a sacrifice fly to deep right. The Baltimore right-fielder had doubled then advanced on O’Hearn’s popout before crossing home for a 4-0 Orioles’ lead.

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Toronto suffered another blow in the bottom of that inning as Bichette injured himself running the basepaths.

Bichette was trying to stretch a single into a double but when the relay throw beat him to second he put on the brakes, apparently jamming his right knee. He was helped off the field by team trainers and replaced in the lineup by Santiago Espinal.

A two-time all-star, Bichette leads Toronto with a .321 average this season and 17 home runs. It’s the highest average in the American League and fourth best in Major League Baseball.

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Kiermaier cut into Baltimore’s lead in the fifth when he hit into a fielder’s choice. Although Alejandro Kirk was forced out at second, Daulton Varsho ran home from third to make it 4-1.

The Blue Jays threatened to score again when Matt Chapman and Varsho led off the seventh with two walks but three quick outs, including two strikeouts, ended the threat.

Merrifield brought the 31,122 at Rogers Centre to life with his ninth home run of the season to lead off the eighth inning. His 354-foot bomb into Toronto’s bullpen came off of Cano and made it 4-2.

After an Espinal groundout, Brandon Belt and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. both walked to bring Chapman, representing the go-ahead run, to the plate with one out. But a questionable called third strike sent Chapman back to the dugout and then Varsho popped out to end the potential comeback.

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Merrifield had a chance at being the hero in the ninth with Kirk and Kiermaier on first and second. He sent a ball to left-centre field for a likely hit but Baltimore’s Austin Hays laid out for the catch to hold the runners.

RBC CANADIAN OPEN— RBC Canadian Open winner Nick Taylor was shown on the Jumbotron in the third inning to a loud ovation. The golfer from Abbotsford, B.C., became the first Canadian to win the national men’s championship since 1954 earlier this summer.

RELIEVED — Right-handed reliever Chad Green will continue his rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery with an appearance for triple-A Buffalo on Wednesday. Blue Jays manager John Schneider said they would look for Green to pitch more than an inning for the Bisons. Right-handed side armer Adam Cimber will continue his rehab from shoulder impingement as he plays catch from 105 feet at Toronto’s minor-league complex in Dunedin, Fla.

ON DECK — Hyun-Jin Ryu (0-0) makes his season debut for the Blue Jays after missing 13 months recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Kyle Bradish (6-6) gets the start for Baltimore.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 31, 2023.


&© 2023 The Canadian Press

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