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Canadian Abraham Toro's two-run homer spurs Brewers to 4-2 win over Blue Jays

TORONTO — This hasn't been the season Alek Manoah expected after he finished third in Cy Young voting in 2022. At this point, he's just looking for positives after each frustrating loss.
Milwaukee Brewers' Abraham Toro (13) celebrates his two-run home run against the Toronto Blue Jays during second inning MLB baseball action in Toronto on Wednesday, May 31, 2023.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

TORONTO — This hasn't been the season Alek Manoah expected after he finished third in Cy Young voting in 2022. At this point, he's just looking for positives after each frustrating loss.

Canadian Abraham Toro's early two-run homer helped the Milwaukee Brewers to a 4-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday. 

Manoah took his sixth loss of the young season after giving up two runs on three hits and allowing three walks over four innings.

"Yeah, it's been tough, obviously," said Manoah, who paused and sighed deeply before continuing. "Not doing what I'm meant to be doing. 

"So I've just got to keep fighting. Keep finding positives and building off them."

Although Manoah's earned-run average improved from 5.53 to 5.46 with Wednesday's performance, he's not close to his all-star numbers of last season. 

He posted a 2.23 ERA in 2022 and finished third in Cy Young voting as the American League's best pitcher.

Blue Jays manager John Schneider said before the game that Manoah was improving but he needed one thing: strikes. 

Manoah threw 59 strikes in his 89-pitch outing, but managed just two strikeouts before he was pulled in favour of reliever Trevor Richards. 

"Leading off the game with a walk didn't help," said Schneider on if Manoah had successfully attacked the strike zone. "But I think his overall mindset and his competitiveness kind of kicked in a little bit after that."

Manoah admitted after the game that he's struggling with the right approach mentally.

"The mindset of 'don't throw a ball here' instead of 'throw a strike right here' is a difference maker and right now I'm stuck in 'don't throw a ball here,'" Manoah said.

Kevin Kiermaier's fifth-inning triple drove in a run for Toronto (29-27). Cavan Biggio's fielder's choice also scored a run in the seventh.

Richards, Tim Mayza, Adam Cimber, and Anthony Bass came out of the Blue Jays' bullpen, with Mayza giving up two runs.

Owen Miller hit a two-run double for the Brewers (29-26) to support starting pitcher Julio Teheran (1-1), who gave up an unearned run on four hits over six innings in a quality start. 

Relievers Joel Payamps, Peter Strzelecki and Devin Williams protected Teheran's lead, with Williams earning his ninth save of the year.

In his first at-bat of the season, Montreal's Toro launched an 0-2 offering from Manoah just inside the right-field foul netting. Toro scored Brian Anderson, who led off the second inning with a walk.

"It's always great (to play in Canada)" said Toro, who added he had five or six family members drive to Toronto from Quebec. 

"Every time I come here my family's here so I'm always glad to do something special in front of them."

Kiermaier cut Milwaukee's lead by a run when his base hit eluded Anderson in right field, which gave Whit Merrifield ample time to score from first. Kiermaier's fourth triple of the season made it 2-1 for the Brewers.

Miller's double in the seventh cashed in Joey Wiemer and Christian Yelich for a pair of runs. They'd both reached base with singles, but then executed a double steal to put themselves in scoring position.

Biggio hit into a fielder's choice in the bottom of the inning with Merrifield and Matt Chapman on second and third, respectively. 

Brewers shortstop Brice Turang slightly bobbled the play, allowing Chapman to score and Merrifield to advance to third, but Biggio was thrown out at first.

Bass was loudly booed by some of the 42,205 in attendance at Rogers Centre a day after the Toronto reliever apologized for sharing a homophobic video on Instagram. 

KIERMAIER BACK — Kiermaier returned to the Blue Jays' lineup after missing two games with back soreness. The three-time Gold Glove winner hit ninth in the batting order against Milwaukee despite hitting .319 this season with four home runs and five stolen bases.

ON DECK — Kevin Gausman (3-3) takes the mound as Toronto closes out its three-game series against the Brewers in a Thursday matinee. Freddy Peralta (5-4) gets the start for Milwaukee.

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

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press