Toronto Blue Jays Japanese pitcher Yusei Kikuchi fell just short of his first 10-win season in the big leagues.
Kikuchi started a home game against the Philadelphia Phillies on April 16 at Rogers Centre, allowing one run on four hits over six innings. Toronto went on to win 2-1, but the game-winning run came after Kikuchi’s strong outing.
Kikuchi took the loss on Sept. 9 against the Cleveland Indians after tossing seven innings of three-hit, one-run ball in a 0-1 loss. It was the second straight game that he didn’t get support from his offense. Kikuchi, who debuted with the Seattle Mariners in 2019, is in the midst of a nine-win season.
But with four consecutive quality starts since his last outing against the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 27, Kikuchi has lowered his ERA from 3.53 to 3.44, making it clear that he has become the team’s go-to starter. As of today, he is second on the team in wins behind Chris Bassett (11-6, 3.95) and second in ERA behind Kevin Gausman (9-6, 3.04).
After a somewhat shaky first half in which he went 7-3 with a 4.24 ERA in 18 games, Kikuchi has pitched like an ace in the second half, going 2-1 with a 1.29 ERA in six games. He could easily be the No. 2 starter behind Gausman in the postseason.
He throws 84 pitches, tops out at 96.5 mph and averages 94.9 mph on his fastball. He used his slider, curveball, and changeup to good effect, and he didn’t give up a single walk.
Kikuchi started the game with seven straight singles to lead off the third inning. He got out of a three-hit jam in the fourth and got Bryson Stott to lead off the fifth with a single to left, then got Trey Turner to ground out to third and JT Realmuto to pop out to third to end the inning.
Kikuchi struck first in the top of the sixth with the score 0-0. He gave up a leadoff single to Edmundo Sosa and a double to left field to Yohan Rojas, but struck out Kyle Schwarber, got Alex Bomb to fly out to right field and Bryce Harper to ground out to first base to end the threat.
After being chased by Philadelphia starter Zack Wheeler, Toronto tied the game in the bottom of the sixth. Whit Merrifield led off with an infield single and Brandon Belt walked to put runners on first and second. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. drew a walk to load the bases, but George Springer singled up the middle to score Merrifield from third.
Toronto then scored its final run in the bottom of the eighth. A leadoff walk and a single to left by Merrifield put runners on first and second. After Belt struck out, Guerrero drew a walk to load the bases. A grounder by Springer threw Rooks out at home to end the threat, but Cavan Biggio got a throwing error from reliever Seranthony Dominguez to score Maryfield’s final run.온라인바카
Closer Jordan Romano, who returned from a back injury to pitch the ninth, pitched a scoreless inning with two strikeouts to earn the save.
With their second straight win, Toronto improved to 67-54, good for third place in the AL East and the first wild-card spot.