Timely hitting, six hits from Berrios add up to another Blue Jays victory


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The Blue Jays didn’t need to go deep to defeat the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday afternoon.

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Hours after belting three home runs to beat the Orioles on Friday night, the Jays kept it in the park at the Rogers Centre, manufacturing runs at opportunity times to win 6-3.

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Before a crowd of 44,448, Jays starter Jose Berrios (11-5) had some early bumps but was solid overall, recording his 16th quality start of the season. Before giving way to Tim Mayza to start the seventh, Berrios scattered seven hits and struck out three, while walking two.

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A stellar defensive performance by the Jays also was a significant factor in the club’s 13th win, with just four losses, in September.

This as the race to the post-season intensifies on a daily basis.

“A little bit of everything,” Jays manager John Schneider said, referring to what the Jays are doing better these days. “We’ve got good starting pitching. We’ve got timely hitting. Today, great defense.

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“It’s a good recipe, the right time of year, and they’re looking forward and they’re up for these challenges. We’re playing tough teams. I think we’re playing really good baseball.

“Guys are feeding off the energy, feeding off a big crowd, feeding off each other. You don’t really have to do much to set the tone. These guys are ready for it.”

In the race for the top wild-card spot in the AL, the victory left the Jays 1.5 games ahead of both Tampa Bay — which also won later in the afternoon — and Seattle. The Mariners played later on Saturday night.

The Jays broke the game open in the fifth when Raimel Tapia doubled to the centre-field wall off reliever Jake Reed. It just so happened that the bases were loaded, and Tapia’s hit cleared them to give Toronto a 6-2 lead with two out.

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“To be honest with you, I love those moments,” Tapia said through team interpreter Hector Lebron.

“The confidence that we have in each other, the support of our coaching staff, the support of each other and the way that we’ve been playing the game, we are playing with a lot of confidence, a lot of love, we’ re having fun.”

Toronto Blue Jays left fielder Raimel Tapia reacts after hitting a three RBI double against the Baltimore Orioles.  Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Toronto Blue Jays left fielder Raimel Tapia reacts after hitting a three RBI double against the Baltimore Orioles. Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Before the game, Schneider noted Tapia’s ability to impact the outcome on any given day.

“We joke that the holes find him, he doesn’t find the holes,” Schneider said. “He just ends up getting on base. He’s walked a couple more times than usual lately.

“He brings a different skill set, a different component than what we usually roll out every day in terms of handedness and contact ability.”

After scoring the first run of the game in the first inning when he came home on a Matt Chapman sacrifice fly, George Springer stroked a double off the wall in left to score Cavan Biggio and Santiago Espinal, who both had singled.

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The Jays’ lead was cut to 3-2 in the third when a Gunnar Henderson single scored two. Berrios got the next two batters, however, to end the top half of the inning.

Baltimore also scored a run in the eighth off reliever Yimi Garcia. Jordan Romano worked the ninth for his 34th save.

Berrios got out of trouble in the second when the Orioles loaded the bases with two out. He blew a fastball past a swinging Kyle Stowers for a strikeout to end the threat.

“I thought (Berrios’ effort) was really gutsy,” Schneider said. “He competed his ass off. It was very much needed. That’s what you want from a frontline dude.”

Berrios got some help from his teammates on several terrific defensive plays.

Tapia robbed Cedric Mullins, the first batter of the game, of a hit when he jumped to make the catch about a foot below the top of the wall in left.

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In the second, Bo Bichette had to manoeuvre around Terrin Vavra, who was at second base, to catch a high pop-up off the bat of Rougned Odor.

In the fourth, Springer raced into shallow center and made a diving catch to take a hit from leadoff batter Ramon Urias.

Baltimore starter Kyle Bradish (3-7) endured through 4.2 innings, giving up five runs (three earned) on six hits and one walk. He struck out three.

Orioles first baseman Ryan Mountcastle departed the game in the second inning after taking a Berrios pitch off his left arm. Initial X-rays were negative, but Mountcastle suffered an elbow contusion and his day was done.

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AROUND THE BASES

Schneider said there’s a chance that Alejandro Kirk, who has been out with tightness in his left hip and has not played since Tuesday, could be behind the plate to catch Alek Manoah on Sunday as the Jays go for the sweep. Kirk has caught all 28 of Manoah’s starts in 2022. Kirk and Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who has missed the past 10 games with a strained hamstring, continue to do a little more each day to get back into action… Given his masterful ways at the plate in September, it might have been a safe bet to take Bichette with the over after his total bases was set at 1.5 by oddsmakers. But Bichette went 0-for-4 in a rare tough day in the batter’s box… Heading into Saturday, Jays reliever Adam Cimber led the majors with 68 appearances. “Just about as valuable as a player that you run out there every day,” Schneider said. “We always joke because he throws sidearm, that he is always available. He’s like a rubber arm. But there are days when he’s down and you have to take care of him, just like anyone else.”

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