Yusei Kikuchi Permits Four Runs and Eight Hits in Two-plus Innings; Guardians Beat Blue Jays 6-5

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 23, 2024; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Yusei Kikuchi (16) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Cleveland Guardians at Progressive Field.

Josh Naylor and Steven Kwan each homered in the fourth inning as the Cleveland Guardians won 6-5 on Sunday to sweep a three-game set against the visiting Toronto Blue Jays, who have lost a season-high six straight.

Naylor had three hits, including his 20th homer of the season, which gave Cleveland a 6-3 lead and proved to be the difference. It came three batters after Kwan opened the fourth with his seventh homer of the year. The American League Central-leading Guardians have won five in a row.

Rookie Spencer Horwitz hit his first two homers of the season and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had a two-run shot for the Blue Jays, who have suffered back-to-back series sweeps after winning two straight games against Cleveland.

Toronto led 2-0 three batters into the contest after Guerrero sent a Triston McKenzie fastball well over the center field wall for his two-run shot, his ninth home run of the season.

Blue Jays starter Yusei Kikuchi (4-7) retired the first two Guardians in the bottom of the first, but Jose Ramirez then singled, went to third on Naylor’s base hit and scored on David Fry’s line-drive single to right.

Horwitz made it 3-1 when he smoked a McKenzie curveball off the right field foul pole in the third.

In the bottom of that frame, Ramirez singled and scampered to third on Naylor’s double. Kikuchi then walked Bo Naylor to load the bases.

Daniel Schneemann followed with an RBI single to make it 3-2 before a rain delay that lasted roughly 30 minutes. When play resumed, Toronto’s Zach Pop issued a bases-loaded walk to Johnathan Rodriguez, then Cleveland went ahead on Brayan Rocchio’s double-play grounder that plated a run.

Kikuchi was charged with four runs on eight hits in two-plus innings. All three runs McKenzie yielded were earned in his three innings.

With Toronto down three, Horwitz went deep into the center field shrubbery in the fifth to make it 6-4. Addison Barger’s RBI single later in the frame made it a one-run game.

Cleveland reliever Tim Herrin (3-0) earned the win, and Emmanuel Clase recorded his 24th save despite allowing two baserunners in the ninth.