May 27th, 2024

Alejandro Kirk’s first homer of the year lifts Blue Jays over Dodgers 3-1

By Mike Stephens, The Canadian Press on April 28, 2024.

Toronto Blue Jays catcher Alejandro Kirk and closer Jordan Romano celebrate after defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in MLB action in Toronto on Sunday April 28, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

TORONTO – Alejandro Kirk went 3 for 3 at the plate and hit his first home run of the season to lead the Toronto Blue Jays past the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-1 on Sunday to snap a five-game losing skid.

Daulton Varsho and Isiah Kiner-Falefa had back-to-back groundouts in the second inning to score runners for Toronto (14-15) before Kirk hit his first homer of the season 381 feet.

Kevin Gausman (1-3) allowed one run and five hits while striking out five across seven innings in his best performance of the season.

He didn’t issue a single walk and saw his fastball reach 96 m.p.h. in a return to form for the 2023 CY Young runner-up after a shaky start to the year.

Canadian-American first baseman Freddie Freeman had a home run in the sixth inning as Los Angeles (18-12) had its six-game win streak snapped.

Toronto avoided being swept in the three-game interleague series. The Blue Jays have earned at least one win in every ne of their series so far this season.

Gausman kicked things off by holding the Dodgers’ all-world top of their batting order at bay in the first inning courtesy of a Mookie Betts ground-out and a Shohei Ohtani fly-out to deep centre — assisted by some acrobatics from Varsho — before sitting Freeman down on strikes to end the frame.

The Blue Jays didn’t fare much better on their first trip to the batter’s box, though, as a potentially dangerous single by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was quickly erased by the 24-year-old slugger when he lost focus on the basepath and got picked off to end the inning two at-bats later.

Baserunning misadventures continued to tell the story early on as the game shifted to the second inning. After Max Muncy doubled to give the Dodgers their first hit of the game, the star third baseman misjudged a hit-and-run sequence with centre-fielder James Outman one at-bat later, breaking for third with one out only for Outman to strike out swinging and gift Kirk an easy throw-out to catch Muncy and secure the double play.

Having lain dormant for most of the weekend series, the Blue Jays’ bats came alive in the bottom of the second thanks to some uncharacteristically effective hitting with runners in scoring position from the bottom half of the lineup.

After Justin Turner and Davis Schneider found their respective ways home, Kirk’s solo shot to deep right field put Toronto up 3-0. That home run would also spell the end of starter Michael Grove’s afternoon after two innings and three earned runs, with left-hander Alex Vesa replacing him out of the bullpen in the third.

Versa, Ryan Yarborough, and Nabil Crismatt combined for seven innings of scoreless baseball fto give the Dodgers a chance of making their way back into the game.

The comeback bid began on the bat of Freeman, whose solo shot in the bottom of the fifth finally got the Dodgers on the board. The home run was Freeman’s second of the season and the sixth of his career to come at the Rogers Centre.

The comeback would stop there, however.

Despite loading the bases in the bottom of the eighth, L.A. couldn’ solve the duo of YImi Garcia and Tim Mayza, setting the stage for Jordan Romano of Markham, Ont., to close out the game with a scoreless ninth.

ON DECK – The Blue Jays will continue their homestand on Monday when the Kansas City Royals come to town, while the Dodgers will head west to Arizona to take on the Diamondbacks.

Yariel Rodriguez (0-1, 3.86 ERA) is expected to get the start for the Blue Jays as he seeks his first career MLB win.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 28, 2024.

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