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Borucki duels with Snell, late rally not enough

Rookie left-hander impressive over 7 innings against Rays
September 23, 2018

TORONTO -- Ryan Borucki has enjoyed a lot of high moments during an impressive rookie season and his performance on Sunday afternoon against the Rays will have to rank near the top.Borucki went toe-to-toe with American League Cy Young Award contender Blake Snell in a classic pitchers' duel at Rogers

TORONTO -- Ryan Borucki has enjoyed a lot of high moments during an impressive rookie season and his performance on Sunday afternoon against the Rays will have to rank near the top.
Borucki went toe-to-toe with American League Cy Young Award contender Blake Snell in a classic pitchers' duel at Rogers Centre. The 24-year-old did everything he could to give the Blue Jays a chance with seven strong innings, but the bullpen faltered after Borucki left the game and Toronto was sent to a 5-2 loss at Rogers Centre.
Despite the loss, it was yet another impressive performance for the product of Illinois. Borucki's 10 starts this season of at least six innings and fewer than two runs are tied for the second most by a rookie pitcher. Borucki has 11 of those starts in 16 outings, which is tied with Dodgers righty Walker Buehler, while San Francisco's Dereck Rodriguez leads all Major League rookies with 13.
"It was definitely cool, he pitched a really good game," Borucki said of being matched up vs. Snell. "He had all of his stuff working, kept us off balance and did a really good job. I was just trying to keep us in it, as close as we could. I had a couple of costly errors that cost me a couple of runs, but that's just how it goes. He's a pretty good pitcher."

Borucki's 11 quality starts are also tied with Marco Estrada for the most on the Blue Jays staff, even though he didn't join the Major League roster until the end of June. The 11 quality starts lead all AL rookies with Royals right-hander Brad Keller second at nine. The numbers have been particularly impressive at home where Borucki has a 2.64 ERA in seven starts compared to a 4.82 ERA in nine starts on the road.
The final score didn't do Borucki any justice but he was in control for almost his entire time on the mound. There was a minor blip in the fourth on an RBI double by Joey Wendle, and another hiccup in the sixth on an RBI double by C.J. Cron, but that was it. Borucki allowed just those two runs on three hits and four walks while striking out seven and throwing 60 of his 101 pitches for strikes.
The former 15th-round pick of the 2012 MLB Draft has now surrendered three hits or fewer in four consecutive starts, which is tied for a Blue Jays record. Juan Guzman (1991), Roger Clemens (1998) and Marco Estrada (2015) accomplished the same feat. Two of those recent Borucki starts have come against the Rays, as he combined to allow just four runs on six hits over 13 quality innings vs. Tampa Bay in 2018.
"Today they showed me a little different lineup than last time," Borucki said of the Rays. "They had all righties in there the last time I faced them and they went with a lot more lefties. So I utilized my slider a lot more today and threw some left on left changeups and some stuff that I don't usually do. I definitely had to switch my game plan from facing these guys last time."

Borucki's performance on Sunday normally would have been enough to win, but not on a day when he was matched up against one of the most dominating pitchers in the AL. Snell also allowed just three hits and he walked two while striking out 11 over 6 2/3 scoreless innings. He continues to make a case for the AL Cy Young Award as his ERA dropped to 1.90, which is the best among qualified AL starting pitchers.
"Both of them were great, he was just a little bit better," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of Snell. "There's a good chance he's going to win the Cy Young too, so there's a reason, he's pretty dominating. But shoot, I thought Borucki, a couple of little scratch runs there but overall another good seven innings, two runs. It's tough to beat that in this league."
HE SAID IT
"The kid can just pitch. I think his breaking ball has gotten better since he has been here and he knows what he's doing. He can throw different things in different times. … The bottom line is he can pitch. He has a feel for what he is doing and that can take him a long way." -- Gibbons, on Borucki
SOUND SMART
The Blue Jays lost a game when out-hitting their opponent for the ninth time this season. Toronto dropped to 15-36 in games vs. left-handed starters and the club's record is back at .500 for home games with a 39-39 record.

UP NEXT
Right-hander Estrada (7-13, 5.57) will take the mound when the Blue Jays open a three-game series against the Astros on Monday at Rogers Centre with first pitch scheduled for 7:07 p.m. ET. This will mark Roberto Osuna's first return to Toronto since the Blue Jays traded him to the Astros in late July for a package that included closer Ken Giles. This series will also feature a reunion of the Gurriel brothers with Yuli for the Astros and Lourdes for Toronto. Left-hander Dallas Keuchel (11-11, 3.71) will get the start for the Astros.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.