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Kikuchi rebounds with a sharp lunge when Jays defeats Rays in the opening step of the series

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Welcome back, Yusei Kikuchi.

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I’m glad to see you again.

After weeks of fighting full of losses, indecisions and short trips, Kikuchi found his mark on Thursday night at the Rogers Center against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Starter Blue Jays played a seasonal maximum of eight in six innings, giving the Jays offensive enough space to provide adequate support in Toronto’s 4: 1 victory.

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The victory started a five-match set against the Rays and gave the Jays some space in the American League East among those who placed second behind the New York Yankees. The Jays are 12 1/2 match back and are finishing second with the dormant Boston Red Sox. The third Tampa Bay fell 15 games back.

Kikuchi (3-4) has not won since May 16, losing three with four draws. His six innings equaled the best personal season and came after last Saturday’s only two in Milwaukee against the Brewers.

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Kikuchi dispersed four hits and one passed in front of a crowd of 22,987.

The Toronto bullpen was just as effective.

Trent Thornton played an orderly seventh, gave up one hit and hit one.

David Phelps faced four batsmen in eighth place and Adam Cimber threw ninth place by three pluses and three dips for his fourth save.

The Jays were initially unable to provide much support against Ryan Yarbrough (0-4), who entered the game in the second inning after Rays opener Matt Wisler faced at least three shots in the first.

The first batter Yarbrough saw, Alejandro Kirk, decided. Teoscar Hernandez then lowered the rider to the seats in the left field for a two-shot shot and a 2-0 lead from Jays. It was Hernandez’s eighth home race of the season.

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Yarbrough allowed only three hits in the next five innings. That changed in the seventh match, when Santiago Espinal headed left 0: 1. Espinal’s sixth home player also scored Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who led the single inning.

Isaac Paredes touched Kikuchi for a solo homerun with two outs in the fourth.

Kikuchi’s eighth hit was coincidentally the 400th in his major league career and received nice acclaim from the audience when it was confirmed on the scoreboard.

Kikuchi worked his way up from a small jam in the sixth. After giving up a pair of singles, he got Harold Ramirez to the ground with third baseman Matt Chapman in double play. Randy Arozarena then sharply attacked Chapman, whose defensive game continues to shine to end the inning.

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With five games in four days against the Rays, including Saturday’s double match, Jays manager Charlie Montoyo is closely monitoring his line-up, including his bullpen.

“You have to go match by match,” Montoyo said. “And not just pitchers, players in position – that’s a lot of matches, no days off and then going to Oakland with no days off and playing there (on Monday against the Athletics to start a seven-match trip to the West Coast). We have to pay attention to everything, not just pitching. “

Montoyo wasn’t sure who would start one of the matches on Saturday. Kevin Gausman will be next at one of the starts of the day and Montoyo said he would be on the pitcher to take the ball in the afternoon or early evening.

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DIAMOND DUST

After completing Phase 1 of the all-star vote, Jays has six finalists advancing to Phase 2, including Kirk, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Espinal, Bo Bichette, George Springer and Gurriel. The Phase 2 vote begins on Tuesday and ends on July 8.… Jose Berrios, who will play for Jays on Canada Day, leads 0-3 in five career matches against Tampa Bay with an ERA of 5.76. In his last two starts, both losses, Berrios lit up 14 races in a 6 2/3 inning and scored just two strikeouts.

tkoshan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/koshtorontosun

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