Another mediocre start from Kikuchi as Blue Jays lose to Orioles

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The Blue Jays shut down Hyun-Jin Ryu on Tuesday. 

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Unfortunately, they couldn’t do the same with fellow starter Yusei Kikuchi. 

The latter provided another uninspiring performance against the Baltimore Orioles at the Rogers Centre, giving up four runs in four innings of work in an eventual 6-5 Jays loss. 

Kikuchi (2-3) hasn’t won since May 16, losing twice with three no-decisions. 

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Kikuchi was done after giving up a lead-off home run to Austin Hays in the fifth inning, which gave the Orioles a 4-3 lead. In the third, Ryan Mountcastle touched Kikuchi for a two-run homer to put the visitors up 2-0. 

In his 12 starts, Kikuchi has lasted six innings just twice. On Tuesday, he was coming off his shortest outing of his career, when he didn’t get through the first inning in Kansas City on June 8. 

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Against the Orioles, Kikuchi struck out four and walked four, while giving up four runs, all earned. 

After the Hays homer in the fifth, the Orioles scored their fifth run on a sacrifice fly by Tyler Nevin off Trevor Richards and added a sixth off Richards in the sixth.

Jays third baseman Matt Chapman left little doubt that his sore wrist, which kept him out of the previous three games, was no longer an issue. 

Chapman singled and scored in the third when Bo Bichette grounded out, cutting the Orioles lead to 2-1, and in the fourth, tied the game 3-3 when he smacked a two-run homer to left off Orioles starter Jordan Lyles (4-5). 

The Jays, who lost for just the fifth time in 19 games, scored their fourth run in the sixth when Gabriel Moreno, in his home debut, stroked an RBI single to bring home Lourdes Gurriel Jr. 

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Moreno added another RBI single in the eighth.

Ryu, who has been on the injured list since June 2, could wind up having Tommy John surgery on his left arm, which will be determined once he undergoes surgery. The other option would be a partial, minor repair to the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow.

GAME ON

Moreno threw out Jorge Mateo, who was attempting to steal second base in the second inning. Moreno then singled in his first at-bat in the third, much to the delight of the crowd of 23,106 … Mateo stole two bases on Moreno in the sixth and scored on a single by Cedric Mullins … The Jays had the bases loaded in the third inning with two out. Teoscar Hernandez struck out … George Springer extended his on-base streak to 24 games, the longest active run in the majors, when he drew a walk in the third inning … There was a bit of a scare for the Jays when Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was hit by a pitch in the third. Guerrero made his way to first base after favouring his left hand and stayed in the game … The Jays’ seven-game winning streak against the Orioles, dating back to last season, ended.

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ALL CAUGHT UP

Jays general manager Ross Atkins acknowledged that going with three catchers on the roster would be an option once Danny Jansen returns from a broken finger.

With Jansen in recovery mode, Moreno is getting his first opportunity to play in the majors and Alejandro Kirk continues to provide punch at the plate and a sure hand behind it.

“There are pros and cons (in keeping three),” Atkins said during a pre-game media availability on Tuesday. “It’s balancing that, making sure there is enough playing time. 

“If it was Gabby to be that third catcher, how much are we off-setting his development, what are the opportunities, where are we in the season? How are the three of them performing? But having that as an option is a good start.

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“I don’t want to close any doors to anything.”

Jansen was hurt on June 6 in Kansas City when he was hit by a pitch. 

“He’s progressing as quickly as we possibly could have hoped,” Atkins said. “The range of motion is back. He’s already moving into some baseball activity, very minimal. We have more imaging in the next day or so and that will be the next marker for him to take a significant step forward.”

Then there is Kirk, whose defensive play has been a revelation.

“His improvement and the strides he has made defensively are remarkable,” Atkins said. “There is no concern around the running game. 

“There’s no concern around strategic preparations, no concern around game-calling. His receiving has been phenomenal. Our pitchers love throwing to him. The communication has been fantastic. That seems to be on an upward tick. The hitting and offence have always been there.”

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DIAMOND DUST 

Righthander Julian Merryweather has been placed on the 15-day injured list with a left abdominal strain, and was scheduled to undergo an MRI. Righthander Jeremy Beasley was recalled from triple-A Buffalo … Alek Manoah finds himself in some good company with 1.67 ERA through 12 starts. The only Jays pitcher with a better ERA through 12 starts in team history was Dave Stieb, who had a mark of 1.66 in 1983 … Jose Berrios, who gets the ball against the Orioles on Wednesday night, is 6-0 in eight career starts versus Baltimore with a 2.94 ERA.

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