June 13th, 2024

Vogelbach drives in a pair as Blue Jays top Pirates 5-4 for fifth win in six games

By Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press on June 2, 2024.

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Chris Bassitt (40) throws the ball during first inning MLB interleague action against the Pittsburgh Pirates, in Toronto, Sunday, June 2, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

TORONTO – Daniel Vogelbach hit a go-ahead two-run double in Toronto’s three-run fifth inning to help the Blue Jays to a 5-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday afternoon at Rogers Centre.

The veteran designated hitter welcomed reliever Hunter Stratton to the game by driving a pitch to the wall in centre field, allowing Davis Schneider and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to score.

Toronto relievers Chad Green, Trevor Richards and Nate Pearson each threw an inning of scoreless relief. Yimi Garcia gave up a run in the ninth before earning his third save.

Daulton Varsho had two runs and reached base three times as Toronto (28-30) won for the fifth time in six games. The Pirates (27-32) left 13 runners on base.

Blue Jays manager John Schneider tinkered with his lineup for the rubber game of the three-game series and it paid off. Both teams had 11 hits on the day.

Guerrero made his first start at third base since late in his 2019 rookie season. Vogelbach batted fifth, Justin Turner started at first base and infielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa started at second base.

The Pirates put runners in scoring position in each of the first two innings but Toronto starter Chris Bassitt (6-6) escaped both times. He fanned three batters in the opening frame and got Bryan Reynolds to ground out with the bases loaded in the second.

Pittsburgh kept the pressure on in the third with three singles in the inning, the last by former Blue Jay Rowdy Tellez bringing Connor Joe home from second base.

Toronto pulled even in the bottom half after Varsho doubled and moved to third base on a sacrifice fly by Kiner-Falefa. Varsho scored when Pirates starter Quinn Priester (0-5) threw a wild pitch.

Tellez burned the Blue Jays again in the fifth inning with a two-run double. The Blue Jays answered with an RBI single by Guerrero and Vogelbach’s two-out double.

Varsho’s speed helped Toronto pad its lead in the sixth inning. He reached on a bunt single and moved to third base on an errant pickoff attempt before scoring on a double by Schneider.

Guerrero had to wait until the seventh inning to field a ball at the hot corner. He scooped a grounder from Nick Gonzales and made a strong throw to Turner for the out.

Varsho also showed off his defensive skills in the inning by tracking down a Tellez drive with a highlight-reel catch in centre field. Tellez drove in his fourth run of the day in the ninth with a single that scored Oneil Cruz from second base.

Bassitt allowed three earned runs, eight hits and a walk over five innings. He had seven strikeouts and hit three batters.

Priester gave up four earned runs and eight hits, didn’t issue a walk and struck out three.

Announced attendance was 34,887 and the game took two hours 57 minutes to play.

CAREER MILESTONE

Bassitt reached the 1,000 mark for career innings pitched when Cruz flew out in the third.

The right-hander, who’s in his second season with the Blue Jays, made his big-league debut with the Chicago White Sox in 2014.

LOU GEHRIG DAY

The No. 4 was emblazoned on game uniforms Sunday for Lou Gehrig Day.

The Yankees legend died in 1941 from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disease that now bears his name.

It has been four years since Major League Baseball established Lou Gehrig Day. The Iron Horse wore No. 4 during his playing career.

COMING UP

The Blue Jays will continue their seven-game homestand Monday night with the opener of a four-game series against Baltimore.

Kevin Gausman (4-3, 4.14 earned-run average) is tabbed to start for Toronto. The Orioles have yet to announce their starter.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 2, 2024.

Follow @GregoryStrongCP on X.

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