TORONTO — Bo Bichette believes the Blue Jays' offensive outburst on Monday will help Toronto's hitting get back on track. But to do that, he and his teammates have to stick with their process.
Bichette and Matt Chapman each had a solo home run as the Blue Jays beat the Seattle Mariners 6-2. Bichette drove in another run with a single in the eighth inning on a 3-for-5 night.
"We've got to show up to the field ready to play every day. It's not going to be easy," said Bichette. "We're going to have offensive games like that but we have to be coming, ready to play, every day. It's not just going to happen."
Pinch-hitter Alejandro Kirk's single scored two for Toronto (19-17) and Raimel Tapia had an RBI single to back starting pitcher Yusei Kikuchi (2-1) in one of his best outings of the Major League Baseball season.
"To see (Kikuchi) being aggressive, going after hitters, I think that's huge for him," said Bichette. "He's been getting better. Hopefully, he just continues to learn himself more and be aggressive and build off of this."
Kikuchi allowed only one hit over six innings with six strikeouts. It matched his longest game of the season — a 2-1 win over the Yankees in New York on May 4 — and was the fewest hits and runs he allowed all year.
He said his ongoing improvement is thanks to the guidance of Blue Jays pitching coach Pete Walker.
"Pete mentioned trying throw a 'bitter' which was basically a bigger cutter," said Kikuchi through translator Kevin Ando. "Just throwing that with that intent. It felt great after like one or two throws and so I've just kind of stuck with that."
Trevor Richards, Yimi Garcia, Ryan Borucki, Ross Stripling and Adam Cimber came on in relief for Toronto. Richards and Stripling both allowed runs. Cimber earned a save in his 2/3 of an inning.
Eugenio Suárez had a homer in the seventh for Seattle (16-20) and Adam Frazier added an RBI single in the ninth.
Chris Flexen (1-6) allowed six hits for three runs but struck out seven over 5 1/3 innings. Penn Murfree, Wyatt Mills and Roenis Elías came out of the Mariners bullpen.
"Obviously (Flexen) made a couple of mistakes on the home run balls but, other than that, I thought he threw the ball really well," said Seattle manager Scott Servais. "We didn’t do anything offensively for him."
Bichette lofted a 2-2 pitch from Flexen over the left-field fence to give the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead in the first. It was his third home run of the season and a small section of fans near the homer's landing spot started chanting "M-V-P!" as Bichette rounded the bases.
Chapman followed that up with his own homer in the second. With two out, he launched a pitch to deep centre for his sixth of the year.
Kikuchi's no-hit bid was broken up in the fifth when Mariners left-fielder Jesse Winker bounced a double down the first-base line. Kikuchi got out of the inning without surrendering any runs, however.
Raimel Tapia added to Toronto's lead with a two-out single to left field in the sixth inning. His base hit off of Murfree drove in pinch runner Vinny Capra from second base for a 3-0 lead. That run was charged to Flexen.
Seattle finally answered back in the seventh when Suárez hit his seventh home run of the season off of Richards to cut the score to 3-1.
Kirk came on as a pinch-hitter for designated hitter Zack Collins in the seventh and drove an RBI single to centre field to score Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., to extend Toronto's lead by two.
Bichette had a bloop single in the eighth inning that brought Tapia in from second base for a 6-1 Blue Jays lead.
Frazier's second hit of the game came in the ninth inning, driving in Suárez for the final score.
BIGGIO TO BUFFALO — Infielder Cavan Biggio was reinstated from Toronto's COVID-related injured list Monday evening. The team immediately optioned him to triple-A Buffalo.
MAYZA ON THE IL — Left-handed reliever Tim Mayza was put on the Blue Jays' 15-day injured list with left forearm inflammation on Monday retroactive to Sunday. Lefty Andrew Vasquez was recalled from Buffalo in a corresponding move.
LOOKING AHEAD — José Berríos (2-2) will get the start Tuesday night as Toronto continues its three-game series with Seattle. Logan Gilbery (4-1) will take the mound for the Mariners.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 16, 2022.
John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press