TORONTO — Control issues and the long ball proved to be the undoing for Blue Jays starter Yusei Kikuchi on Tuesday night. The Baltimore Orioles took advantage of his uneven performance for a 6-5 victory at Rogers Centre.
Kikuchi (2-3) issued four walks and gave up two homers over four-plus innings.
"He just needs to throw strikes," said Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo. "It's kind of tough to play behind somebody when he's (throwing) too many non-competitive pitches.
"Of course believe me, after having said that, there's always hope because he's got good stuff."
The Blue Jays have won only one of Kikuchi's last five starts. The left-hander didn't get out of the first inning in a loss to Kansas City last week.
"When he does throw strikes, he gets people out," Montoyo said. "But when you pitch behind and you walk people, people are going to score."
Ryan Mountcastle hit a two-run homer in the third inning and Austin Hays added a solo shot in the fifth that ended the night for Kikuchi.
"Both of them were off of pitches that I didn't execute, they just got too much plate," Kikuchi said via a translator. "Being a little bit more fine and executing my pitches would be key (to improving)."
Toronto third baseman Matt Chapman homered and scored twice while rookie catcher Gabriel Moreno had three hits and drove in two runs.
It was Baltimore's first win over Toronto (36-25) in eight meetings and the Blue Jays' fifth loss in 19 games overall.
Kikuchi gave up four earned runs and five hits.
"I thought we did a really good job making him work," said Orioles manager Brandon Hyde. "We were ready to hit on strikes."
Moreno drove in Santiago Espinal with a one-out single in the eighth inning to make it a one-run game. Baltimore's Jorge Lopez got the last five outs for his ninth save.
Mountcastle opened the scoring by turning on a 1-0 pitch for his 10th home run of the year. The Baltimore first baseman had three hits on the evening.
Chapman, who missed Toronto's last three games with a sore wrist, singled off Baltimore starter Jordan Lyles (4-5) in the third inning and scored when Bo Bichette hit a slow chopper with the bases loaded.
Baltimore (27-36) tacked on another run in the fourth but Chapman tied the game in the bottom half with a two-run shot for his eighth homer of the season.
After Hays opened the fifth with his eighth home run, reliever Trevor Richards gave up another run on a Tyler Nevin sacrifice fly that plated Mountcastle, who reached on a ground-rule double.
Jorge Mateo made it 6-3 on a Cedric Mullins RBI single in the sixth inning. Trent Thornton came on in relief and got Hays to hit into an inning-ending double play.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr., led off with a double in the Toronto half of the frame and scored on a single by Moreno, who made his first home start behind the plate since his big-league debut last Saturday.
Lyles worked 5 1/3 innings and gave up four earned runs, five hits and three walks while striking out seven. Kikuchi had four strikeouts.
Toronto outhit Baltimore 10-8. Announced attendance was 23,106 and the game took three hours 12 minutes to play.
SURGERY FOR RYU
Blue Jays left-hander Hyun Jin Ryu is expected to miss the rest of the season due to ligament damage in his left elbow. Ryu, who went on the injured list June 2 due to left forearm inflammation, will need surgery to repair the issue.
General manager Ross Atkins said that Tommy John surgery was a possibility. Ryu is in the third year of a US$80-million four-year contract with the Blue Jays.
Teoscar Hernandez came close to a memorable grand slam in the third inning. He belted a Lyles offering into the stadium's 500 level, but on the wrong side of the left-field foul screen.
Only 22 home runs have been hit into the 500 level since the stadium opened in 1989.
The Blue Jays will send right-hander Jose Berrios (5-2, 4.73 ERA) to the mound on Wednesday night against left-hander Bruce Zimmermann.
The teams will complete the four-game series Thursday with a matinee. Toronto will continue its seven-game homestand with a weekend set against the New York Yankees.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 14, 2022.
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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press