The Toronto Blue Jays will send out left-hander Yusei Kikuchi on Sunday afternoon as they go for a three-game series sweep of the visiting Atlanta Braves
The Blue Jays have held the Braves to two runs in winning the first two games of the series
Kikuchi (5-0, 3.35) will be facing Atlanta for the first time in his career. The Braves will counter with right-hander Collin McHugh (1-0, 3.38). He is 2-2 with a 2.70 ERA in 13 career games (six starts) against Toronto
The Braves have scored four runs during a three-game losing streak that includes a 3-0 shutout Friday in the series opener
They could not score in the seventh inning Saturday despite loading the bases with none out. The Braves were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position to go 0-for-12 in the series
"It's going to happen," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "You're going to have to go through things like this. This probably won't be the last time. There are some guys who are not hitting on all cylinders. That's the nature of this game. You just fight through it.
With the 5-2 loss Saturday, Atlanta has lost eight straight to Toronto dating to 2021.
"Atlanta is good and (is) going to continue to be good," Blue Jays manager John Schneider said, "but I think we're at the point now where measuring sticks are out the window. We come into a series expecting to win.
The Blue Jays are two games into a 10-game homestand after a difficult 3-6 road trip in which they were swept by the Boston Red Sox (four games) and the Philadelphia Phillies (two games) while sweeping the Pittsburgh Pirates in a three-game set
The Blue Jays are 11-3 at home
"Other teams are saying that it's going to be a tough series when they come in here," Schneider said. "It's about understanding that and getting back to what we're good at, which is having good at-bats, getting good starting pitching and making good defensive plays."
With McHugh opening Sunday, it will be the second bullpen game for the Braves in their past four games
"We'll open with Collin, see what he can give us and then go to the rest of them," Snitker said.
This is the first time that the Braves have used McHugh as an opener, but he was used in the role seven times for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2021, pitching beyond two innings once
The Braves had a bullpen game Wednesday against the Red Sox. They started left-hander Dylan Lee, who recorded eight outs in a 5-2 loss
Marcell Ozuna provided Atlanta's scoring Saturday with a two-run home run. It was his seventh homer and his fifth over his past seven games, a span in which he is hitting .308 (8-for-26) with 10 RBs.
Bo Bichette had two RBI singles for the Blue Jays with the second hit giving Toronto a 3-2 lead in the seventh
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was 1-for-2 with a walk and a sacrifice fly for Toronto. He has reached base in each of his past 18 games. During that span he is batting .286 (20-for-70) with four homers, 12 RBIs and a .948 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.
--Field Level Media