Surging Blue Jays send Yusei Kikuchi to face Guardians

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Aug 2, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Yusei Kikuchi (16) pitches to the Baltimore Orioles during the second  inning at Rogers Centre.
Aug 2, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Yusei Kikuchi (16) pitches to the Baltimore Orioles during the second inning at Rogers Centre.
Image: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Blue Jays will try for their fifth straight victory when they visit the Cleveland Guardians in the second game of their four-game series on Tuesday night

After watching Monday's starter, veteran left-hander Hyun Jin Ryu, leave early after getting hit in the lower right leg with a line-drive comebacker, the Blue Jays will count on Yusei Kikuchi to go deep on Tuesday


Kikuchi (9-3, 3.67 ERA) beat the AL East-leading Baltimore Orioles in his most recent outing on Wednesday, limiting them to one run and six hits in six innings of a 4-1 victory

It's the only loss in the past eight games for Baltimore

"He was absolutely outstanding," Toronto manager John Schneider said. "He had electric stuff from the get-go. He landed curveballs and sliders out of the zone. His curveball, slider and fastball were just awesome.


It was the second straight victorious outing for Kikuchi, who held the Los Angeles Dodgers to one run and seven hits over six innings in an 8-1 victory on July 26

He had not won consecutive starts since winning three in a row in April

"I just thought about being patient until I got into a rhythm while trying to avoid giving up the first run," Kikuchi said. "I've had success staying on top of the count by mixing up pitches that move out of the strike zone and with some that curve into it.

Kikuchi has made three starts in his career against the Guardians, going 0-1 with a 1.80 ERA

He last faced them on June 12, 2021, when he tossed seven shutout innings in a 5-4 loss in 10 innings


Cleveland plans to counter with rookie right-hander Tanner Bibee

Bibee (7-2, 3.14) won his final two starts of July and pitched well in his first outing of August, but came away without a decision


He allowed two runs and seven hits in five innings against the Houston Astros last Wednesday and left with the score tied 2-2, but the Astros eventually won 3-2

Bibee has not yet faced the Blue Jays

Kole Calhoun made his debut for Cleveland on Saturday and continues to make an impact for the Guardians since the 35-year-old was acquired from the Dodgers on Friday in exchange for cash


He contributed a base hit in each of his first two games and made a diving catch in right field on Monday against the Blue Jays, helping keep the game scoreless before Toronto eventually won 3-1

Calhoun said he remembers players such as Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells and Jared Weaver taking him under their wings when he broke into the majors with the Los Angeles Angels in 2012


"I was lucky," Calhoun said. "I was in a spot with some people that were good human beings and taught me how to go about the game the right way.

Calhoun said he prefers to lead by example

"If there's a question, I think being an older guy, there's probably an answer there that is the right way to do things," Calhoun said


--Field Level Medi