Toronto records back-to-back wins after beating Braves 5-2
TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays no longer have to rely on their big bats for victories.
On Saturday, aggression on the basepaths and superb defence were significant factors in the Blue Jays' (23-16) come-from-behind 5-2 win against the National League-leading Atlanta Braves (25-14).
"I think we can still out-homer people, but yeah, it's fun to play hard and win this way," Bo Bichette said.
Bichette provided the go-ahead run-scoring single in the seventh inning.
He smashed a single past Atlanta shortstop Orlando Arcia with the Braves infield drawn in after Kevin Kiermaier and George Springer singled with one out and then advanced to second and third base, respectively, with a double steal.
"It gave me maybe a little bit of an idea of what they wanted to do," Bichette said. "So yeah, (the double steal) helps a little bit."
Bichette knocked in the tying 2-2 run in the fifth inning, scoring Kiermaier with a single to right field.
In the top half of the inning, Springer made a memorable diving catch to his left to save a run and rob Eddie Rosario of a hit in right field.
"Huge play from George there," Toronto manager John Schneider said. "It kept the game where it should be. I think the reaction from our team was great."
Kiermaier went three-for-four and scored twice. He also stole a base, while Whit Merrifield stole two bases after he walked in the eighth inning and scored on Danny Jansen's single.
Erik Swanson (2-1) picked up the win, while Jordan Romano earned his 10th save before 41,341 fans. A.J. Minter (2-5) suffered the loss for his work in the seventh inning.
A sacrifice fly from Vladimir Guerrero Jr. after Bichette's timely hit scored Springer for a 4-2 lead.
Toronto overcame a two-run deficit by scoring a run in each of the fourth and fifth innings. Guerrero led off the fourth with a double to right-centre. He moved to third on Matt Chapman's infield hit and scored on Merrifield's ground out to second.
Kiermaier hustled for a one-out double to right field in the fifth and scored on Bichette's two-out single to right.
The Braves jumped to a 2-0 advantage on Marcell Ozuna's two-out, two-run homer over the Toronto bullpen in left field. Rosario was on board, having reached base on an infield hit to Blue Jays second baseman Merrifield.
Blue Jays starter Jose Berrios lasted 5 ⅔ innings, striking out three and walking three with six hits.
Atlanta starter Bryce Edler went five innings, yielding five hits with three strikeouts and a walk.
The Blue Jays escaped a bases-loaded situation with none out in the seventh inning. Reliever Jimi Garcia coaxed Sean Murphy into a weak grounder, allowing Guerrero to throw out Ronald Acuna Jr. at the plate.
Garcia gave way to Swanson, who struck out Rosario and got Ozzie Albies to fly out to left.
HOME SWEET HOME
The Blue Jays win at home on Saturday improved their record at Rogers Centre to 10-3 for their best 14-game start at home in franchise history.
Toronto also is guaranteed a series win against the Braves to improve to a perfect 5-0 at home to start the season. The Blue Jays opened 1991 with six straight series wins.
Yusei Kikuchi (5-0) will start for the Blue Jays in Sunday's three-game series finale against the Braves. With injuries to starters Max Fried (left forearm) and Kyle Wright (right shoulder), Atlanta will opt for a bullpen game with Collin McHugh (1-0) as its opener.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 13, 2023.
Tim Wharnsby, The Canadian Press