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Guardians’ Shane Bieber aims to slow Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Jays

The Toronto Blue Jays have a scary lineup, but the Cleveland Guardians were the ones delivering timely hits in the opener of the current four-game series.

The Guardians outhit the visiting Blue Jays 11-9 en route to a 6-5 victory on Thursday, and they will look to author another solid effort when they oppose Toronto again on Friday.

“That’s a tough lineup to get through,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Alejandro Kirk bashed a home run for the Blue Jays, who now have 34 on the season, tied for third in the majors.

Guerrero is batting .313 (26-for-83) against right-handers this year with all seven of his homers and 18 of his 19 RBIs. He is just 1-for-10 against lefties.

The Blue Jays’ right-handed slugger is also batting .378 (14-for-37) on the road this season.

Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said earlier in the week his team isn’t hitting the way it can.

“We’re cold,” he said. “I’m not going to come in here and say we’re swinging the bats. We’re not.”

Montoyo believes the Blue Jays will break out soon, but the Guardians hope it’s not this weekend.

Cleveland ace Shane Bieber (1-1, 2.45 ERA) will oppose right-hander Kevin Gausman (2-1, 2.27) in the Friday game.

Bieber is 2-0 with a 2.11 ERA in three career starts vs. Toronto. He threw a season-high 105 pitches in his last outing against the Oakland A’s, allowing a run on seven hits in seven innings during a no-decision on Saturday.

Gausman is 2-3 with a 2.45 ERA in five career appearances (four starts) against Cleveland. He is 1-1 with a 3.12 ERA in two games (one start) at Progressive Field.

Guardians DH Franmil Reyes, who got off to an extremely slow start to 2022, has been showing some signs of life. He is 6-for-13 with three RBIs in his past three games after going 0-for-23 in the previous six games.

“It’s nice to see him smiling,” Francona said. “It’s been wearing on him. Hopefully he can relax and be who he is.”

Reyes recorded his first three-hit game of the season on Thursday against Toronto, helping the Guardians earn their fifth win in the past six games.

“It feels great,” Reyes told Bally Sports Great Lakes. “I’m trying to be happy and smile more and have fun out there.”

Cleveland rookie outfielder Steven Kwan continued his hot streak with his first home run on Thursday, a two-run shot that tied the game at 2-2 in the third inning. He had a walk-off hit to beat the San Diego Padres in Game 2 of the doubleheader on Wednesday and is batting .328 on the season.

“I was happy for my boy (Kwan),” Reyes said. “It’s fun to watch.”

Kwan has a five-game hitting streak (6-for-20, four RBIs).

Meanwhile, Blue Jays All-Star shortstop Bo Bichette was 3-for-5 with two runs on Thursday. He is batting .458 (11-for-24) during his current six-game hitting streak. Since the start of the 2021 season, he leads the majors in hits (220) and multi-hit games (66).

Thursday’s game was cold and rainy. More rain is forecasted Friday.

“The weather this year has already been a physical grind and a mental grind,” Montoyo said.

–Field Level Media

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