Yusei Kikuchi’s First Win Since Aug. 2; Blue Jays Beat Yankees 7-1

AP Photo/Bryan Woolston
Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Yusei Kikuchi throws to a New York Yankees batter during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2023, in New York.

The Blue Jays (84-67) won their fourth straight game and currently own the American League’s second wild card, sitting 1 1/2 games ahead of Seattle and Texas. The Yankees (76-75) dropped 6 1/2 games behind the Mariners and Rangers, who began the day tied for the third and final wild-card spot.

Toronto’s Yusei Kikuchi (10-6) allowed one run and four hits in five-plus innings for his first win since Aug. 2. He was pulled because of a left upper trap muscle cramp after being checked out by a trainer.

AP Photo/Bryan Woolston
Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Yusei Kikuchi (16) speaks with a member of the training staff before leaving during the sixth inning of the team’s baseball game against the New York Yankees on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2023, in New York.

On his 34th birthday, George Springer hit his 57th career leadoff homer. Springer also drew a key walk against Clarke Schmidt (9-9) ahead of Bichette’s first home run since Aug. 20.

Alejandro Kirk padded the lead with a two-run homer and Kevin Kiermaier scored on an error by New York rookie shortstop Anthony Volpe in Toronto’s three-run ninth.

Bichette reached base three times and took third when third baseman Oswald Peraza committed a throwing error on a grounder by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the fourth. After Peraza’s miscue, Bichette gave Toronto a 2-1 lead when Biggio’s base hit fell in front of center fielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa.

Schmidt was one pitch away from a perfect fifth but ended up issuing four straight balls to Springer before Bichette went deep into the right-center-field seats.

Kikuchi was lifted after walking DJ LeMahieu to start the sixth. Yimi Garcia got Giancarlo Stanton to bounce into a double play to end the inning.

Trevor Richards and Jordan Hicks each pitched a 1-2-3 inning before Kirk’s homer in the ninth put the game away.

Gleyber Torres hit an RBI double in the first as the Yankees dropped back to one game over .500.

Schmidt allowed four runs and four hits in five innings. The right-hander struck out one and walked two.