MLB: Guardians bid for series sweep of reeling Blue Jays

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After dropping two of three games at Toronto last weekend, the Cleveland Guardians already have gotten their revenge.

Now, on Sunday, the American League Central-leading Guardians eye a fifth straight victory and a sweep of the three-game series against the visiting Blue Jays. Toronto, in turn, has dropped five in a row.

Cleveland totaled nine runs at Toronto last weekend. However, the Guardians, who rank among the AL leaders in average runs (5.04) and on-base percentage (.319), have combined for 13 runs in taking the first two games of this set.

Jose Ramirez and Bo Naylor each belted a two-run homer while Steven Kwan and Daniel Schneemann each added a solo shot during the Guardians’ 6-3 victory Saturday. Cleveland, which improved to 25-9 at home, has outscored the Seattle Mariners and Blue Jays 27-7 during the four-game winning streak that followed three consecutive defeats.

“It’s a pretty dangerous lineup and it’s tough to deal with,” Cleveland catcher Austin Hedges said.

Ramirez has 19 homers this season and two off Sunday’s scheduled Toronto starter Yusei Kikuchi (4-6, 3.65 ERA) in his career. The left-hander has a 0-2 record with a 2.45 ERA against the Guardians in five career starts.

However, three times in his past five outings this season, Kikuchi has allowed five earned runs. That included against Boston on Monday, when he yielded four solo homers and three other hits in four innings of a 7-3 Blue Jays’ defeat.

Kikuchi allowed just seven homers in his previous 14 starts this season.

“In warmups, all four pitches were working and it was like, ‘Yeah, ball is coming out pretty good,’ but it resulted in not a good start,” Kikuchi said.

“This is how difficult baseball is. So, reset and then go with a fresh mind (for the next start).”

Kwan, who is 0-for-6 versus Kikuchi, has reached base in 27 consecutive games. He’s batting .390 on the season with three home runs and 11 RBIs in 16 contests since coming off the injured list with a hamstring issue that kept out nearly a month.

Isiah Kiner-Falefa hit a pair of solo homers Saturday for Toronto, which has totaled 13 runs in matching its longest slide of the season.

Kiner-Falefa is among the few offensive bright spots for the Blue Jays, going 10-for-23 with two homers in the last seven games.

He’s 1-for-3 for against scheduled Guardians starter Triston McKenzie (3-4, 4.48 ERA), who looks to turn things around at home, where he’s 0-1 with an 8.53 ERA in his past three starts. The right-hander yielded four runs, four walks and three hits — including a two-run homer — during a season-low 2 1/3 innings of Cleveland’s 8-5 home loss to Seattle on Tuesday.

“I just wanted to go out there and put my best foot forward, and (didn’t) give the guys my best effort — in my opinion,” McKenzie said.

“I think like it’s something different every start. But I think everybody kind of goes through it.”

McKenzie last faced the Blue Jays in 2022 but has been solid with a 3.20 ERA in three career starts against them.

It’s possible he won’t face Toronto’s Daulton Varsho, who appeared to injure himself while unable to run out a ninth-inning grounder Saturday.

–Field Level Media

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