Kikuchi Fans 9 as Rays Lose Second Straight, Jays Win 5-2

Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press via AP
Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Yusei Kikuchi throws during first-inning baseball game action against the Tampa Bay Rays in Toronto, Ontario, Saturday, April 15, 2023.

TORONTO (AP) — The Tampa Bay Rays still haven’t lost a game in the United States this season, but they’re 0 for 2 in Canada.

Yusei Kikuchi struck out a season-high nine over six innings, Danny Jansen had two hits and an RBI and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Rays 5-2 on Saturday.

Alejandro Kirk reached base four times, scored once and drove in a run as the Blue Jays made it two straight over the Rays, who arrived in Toronto having matched a modern record by winning the first 13 games of the season.

“We hate losing, probably more than we like winning,” Tampa Bay infielder Taylor Walls said. “Every guy is going to come in tomorrow as if we didn’t lose the past two games. That’s just kind of how this team is built, it’s how every guy in this clubhouse comes to work every day.”

Toronto has won four straight meetings with the Rays dating to last season, their longest streak against Tampa Bay since a five-game run from July to October 2015.

“I don’t think we’re too worried, obviously,” Rays reliever Josh Fleming said of his team’s first losing streak. “It’s still really early.”

Walls hit a solo homer for the Rays, who have connected at least once in all 15 games this season. Only Seattle (20 games in 2019) has begun a season with a longer streak.

Kikuchi (2-0) allowed one run and four hits, improving to 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in six career games against Tampa Bay. The left-hander walked one and retired the final eight batters he faced.

“Early in the season he’s been electric,” Jansen said.

Kikuchi finished six innings for the first time since June 30, 2022, also against Tampa Bay.

“A confident pitcher is a dangerous thing,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said. “That’s what he is right now.”

Erik Swanson worked the seventh and Adam Cimber gave up Randy Arozarena’s RBI groundout in the eighth.

Closer Jordan Romano loaded the bases in the ninth but struck out Yandy Díaz and recovered after being struck in the chest by Wander Franco’s liner to get the out at first, earning his league-leading sixth save in seven chances.

The Blue Jays said Romano had a contusion on his right rib cage. X-rays did not reveal a fracture.

Bo Bichette opened the scoring with an RBI grounder off Rays right-hander Calvin Faucher in the third before Walls connected in the fourth.

Toronto answered with two in the bottom half against right-hander Trevor Kelley (0-1). Whit Merrifield drove in a run with a double before Jansen followed with an RBI single.

“When they needed hits, they got them,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.

Rays reliever Josh Fleming issued four walks in the sixth, including one to George Springer with the bases loaded. Another of Fleming’s four walks was intentional.

“We’re making it tough on ourselves,” Cash said.

Kirk made it 5-1 with an RBI single off Fleming in the seventh.

In his first big league start, Faucher allowed one run and two hits in 2 2/3 innings.


Blue Jays pitchers have allowed three runs or fewer in each of the past five games.