MLB: Blue Jays aim for three-game sweep of Cubs


The Toronto Blue Jays will shoot for a sweep of their three-game series with the visiting Chicago Cubs on Wednesday night.

The Blue Jays need to sweep the series with the Cubs to escape from a six-game homestand against non-contenders with a split. They dropped all three games against the Los Angeles Angels over the weekend.

Both of the first two games of the current series were tight.

Toronto took the opener 5-4 in 11 innings on Monday. In winning 5-3 on Tuesday, Toronto took the lead in the sixth inning when Teoscar Hernandez hit a three-run home run against left-hander Brendon Little, who was making his major league debut.

Hernandez, who is playing with a sore left ankle from a foul ball, had Monday off.

His return to the lineup on Tuesday became notable in the fourth inning when he ran down a line drive by Franmil Reyes to make a sliding catch in right field, possibly saving a run.

“It’s not 100 percent,” Hernandez said of his ankle. “I feel pain still, but I’m going to give everything I’ve got and even if I feel that pain in my ankle, I will try my best to help the team in any way that I can. I’m going to go until it breaks if I have to. At this point, I’m just trying to do what I can.”

Toronto starting pitcher Kevin Gausman said, “I didn’t think he had a chance to get to (Reyes’ ball). It was a heck of a play.”

Former Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman was removed after five innings with a 2-1 lead even though he said that he could “easily” have returned for the sixth.

The Blue Jays scored all of their runs on Monday against a beleaguered Chicago bullpen, then added four runs in three innings against the Cubs’ relief corps on Tuesday.

The other Cubs pitcher to make his debut Tuesday had better luck than Little. Right-hander Jeremiah Estrada pitched around a walk while striking out two in a scoreless eighth inning.

The Blue Jays will start right-hander Mitch White (1-4, 4.24 ERA) in the series finale. He has faced the Cubs once in his career, allowing two runs (one earned) in one relief outing last season when he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Cubs had not named a starter.

Cubs catcher Willson Contreras, who limped around the bases Tuesday when he hit his 21st homer of the season in the fourth inning, left the game for a pinch hitter in the sixth.

He has had ankle issues for the past three weeks.

“Willson’s a warrior. I’ve never met a stronger human being,” Stroman said. “He’s so strong, like a solid rock. He’s a true grinder, and we’re thankful for him.”

Contreras said that as the game went on, his ankle felt “stuck” and that it bothers him most when he is running.

“At some point you have to take it easy and do what’s best for the team,” Contreras said.

Cubs manager David Ross added, “He feels better after getting some work on it. We’ll see how it looks (Wednesday).”

The Cubs have lost five straight games in Toronto dating to 2014. They are 1-4 to open their three-city, nine-game road trip.

Hernandez reached 100 hits on the season with his homer. Toronto has a major-league-best eight batters with at least 100 hits this season, the first time in team history the Blue Jays have had so many players reach that milestone prior to September.

–Field Level Media

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