The Tampa Bay Rays solved the mystery of Yusei Kikuchi on Wednesday night, finally beating the Japanese left-hander en route to a 7-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in St. Petersburg, Fla.
The Rays were rude hosts to Kikuchi (5-2), chasing him after five innings after tagging him for five runs and eight hits, including a pair of home runs.
Kikuchi had entered the game with a 4-0 record and a 1.80 ERA in his career against the Rays and had gotten the win over them in a 5-2 Toronto victory on April 15.
Meanwhile his counterpart, Tampa Bay ace Shane McClanahan, was in full control, allowing just one run, four hits and no walks while striking out seven in a seven-inning effort. McClanahan improved to 8-0 and his ERA dropped to 1.97 this season.
The Rays went up 1-0 in the first inning, collecting three singles off Kikuchi, with Isaac Paredes’ line-drive single bringing home Wander Franco.
Luke Raley led off the second by driving a slider from Kikuchi 407 feet over the right field wall. One batter later, Jose Siri homered on a 426-foot blast into the seats in left center for a 3-0 Rays lead.
Toronto’s Bo Bichette doubled off McClanahan and scored on a Vladimir Guerrero Jr. single to make it 3-1 in the top of the fourth. But the Rays got two more runs in the bottom of the inning when Manuel Margot tripled home Christian Bethancourt, then scored on Franco’s single for a 5-1 lead.
The Jays tightened things up after McClanahan exited after seven innings. Pinch hitter Cavan Biggio crushed reliever Jason Adam’s first pitch for a 422-foot home run to right center. Nathan Lukes then tripled and scored on George Springer’s groundout to cut the lead to 5-3 in the eighth.
Rays manager Kevin Cash summoned right-hander Kevin Kelly from the bullpen after Adam gave up a single to Bichette and walked Guerrero with the go-ahead run at the plate.
Kelly escaped thanks to a sharply hit chopper by Matt Chapman that second baseman Taylor Walls turned into an inning-ending double play by taking the ball on a short hop, stepping on second and throwing to first.
The Rays scored a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth on RBI singles from Siri and Franco against Blue Jays reliever Yimi Garcia.
–Field Level Media