Blue Jays check all 3 boxes in complete team win

June 1st, 2023

TORONTO -- Pitching, defense and hitting. Finally, the Blue Jays can yell “Bingo!”

After an 11-17 May where the Blue Jays strayed from their identity and were lucky to hit on two of those squares, Toronto hit on all three on the same day Thursday to look like the team we spent all spring talking about.

Thursday’s 3-1 win over the Brewers sealed the Blue Jays’ second series win in a row as Toronto tries to drag itself out of May and into the summer. The Blue Jays even did it with the long ball, launching two in a much-needed reminder of what this lineup’s looked like in the past.

“There are different ways that we’re built to score home runs,” said manager John Schneider, “but you ignore the fact that we’ve got guys up and down the lineup who can do some damage.”

Here’s what went into one of Toronto’s cleanest wins in a month, which should be a model moving forward.

Pitching: A plain, ordinary start
This is just what you should expect from Gausman now. The Blue Jays’ ace gave them 6 2/3 scoreless innings on 115 pitches, running back out to the mound for the seventh inning with the pitch count already at triple digits. After Alek Manoah’s short outing less than 24 hours ago, Gausman’s timing was perfect.

“That’s what really, really good pitchers in this league do,” Schneider said. “He was outstanding.”

With 11 strikeouts Thursday to give him 100 on the season, Gausman now leads all AL pitchers. A year after the splitter maestro appeared on just one Cy Young Award ballot after some historically poor batted-ball luck ballooned his ERA to 3.35, he’s putting himself in a great position to appear on a few more in 2023.

“As a whole, it’s about as consistent as you can get,” Schneider said. “At 100 on the nose right now, he’s on a pretty ridiculous pace. It’s a testament to him and how he takes care of himself. It’s his demeanor. He’s just very consistent, day in and day out.”

Gausman clearly has the full, unquestioned trust of Schneider, too. When Gausman said he was good to go back out for another inning, Schneider nodded and sent his ace right back out there.

Defense: , are you serious?
The one-year, $9 million deal handed to Kiermaier this offseason looks like one of the Blue Jays’ best moves in years.

Kiermaier made one of the plays of the season in the second inning, robbing Andruw Monasterio of extra bases with a diving catch in right-center that required him to cover 92 feet and fully extend before sliding another 10 feet on the turf.

Most days, simply playing clean defense should be enough for a Blue Jays team stacked with stars. Kiermaier can change games, though, and you won’t see many better catches all year.

Hitting: This is Bo’s team
might just be the long-term face of the franchise at this point, but he’s certainly the face of the lineup.

Bichette launched his 12th home run of the season to open the scoring Thursday, sending a low liner to center that just never seemed to come down. Bichette is on pace to take a run at his career high of 29 (2021), something he’s doing while leading all qualified American League batters in average at .332.

Bichette’s season has been simply remarkable, and with the calendar reading June, this is no longer a hot start. It’s just who he is now.

’s two-run home run accounted for the rest of the offense, a very encouraging sign after his torrid April lost steam through May.

The missing link in all of this?

Guerrero hit two high, deep fly balls Thursday that came up just short. It’s June, yet somehow, one of the game’s most gifted power hitters has not homered at home. All eight of Guerrero’s home runs have come on the road, but with his OPS sitting at .801, the Blue Jays don't care in which stadium the turnaround starts. 

“I think Vladdy is really close,” Schneider said. “I think it’s going to come quickly when it does. I’m pleased with the progress he’s made, and again, he’s an exception. It’s just going to take one swing, one at-bat and he’s going to get rolling.”

When that happens? Look out.