Chapman 2 HRs, Kikuchi wins in return as Jays top Tigers 5-3
TORONTO (AP) — Matt Chapman hit two home runs, Yusei Kikuchi came off the injured list to pitch five solid innings and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Detroit Tigers 5-3 on Thursday night for their 10th victory in 12 games.
Chapman hit a two-run homer off left-hander Tyler Alexander in the fourth and a solo shot off Angel De Jesus in the sixth, the ninth multi-homer game of his career and first this season. The home runs were his 17th and 18th of the year.
Fourteen of Chapman’s 18 homers have come at home. He’s batting .306 with seven home runs in July.
“I feel comfortable,” Chapman said. “I see the ball well here.”
Jonathan Schoop and Willi Castro each hit a solo home run for the Tigers, who have lost five of eight since the All-Star break.
Kikuchi (4-5) last pitched July 5 at Oakland, when he walked five batters in 2 1/3 innings. The left-hander went on the injured list the next day because of a strained neck.
“I think today went really well,” Kikuchi said through a translator. “The biggest thing was being in and around the strike zone early and often.”
Robbie Grossman hit a leadoff double in the first and Castro launched a two-out homer in the second but those were the only hits off Kikuchi.
“When we had an opportunity, especially in the first after a leadoff double, he was able to squash it,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said.
Kikuchi walked one and struck out five to win for the first time since beating Tampa Bay on June 30.
“For coming back from an injury, he looked really sharp tonight,” Detroit catcher Eric Haase said. “Little extra giddy-up on his heater, getting his breaking ball below the zone, keeping us guessing. He looked really sharp. There wasn’t a whole lot of pitches to hit.”
Detroit used a double, an error and a walk to load the bases against Yimi Garcia with nobody out in the eighth, but Garcia got Miguel Cabrera to fly out before Eric Haase hit a sacrifice fly. Toronto closer Jordan Romano came on and retired Candelario on a first-pitch groundout.
After Danny Jansen gave Toronto some insurance with a sacrifice fly off Alex Lange in the bottom of the eighth, Romano wrapped it up with a 1-2-3 ninth for his AL-leading 22nd save in 25 chances.
Starting for the fifth time this season, Alexander (2-4) allowed three runs, two earned, in four innings.
“This is not an easy lineup to navigate,” Hinch said. “I thought he did a good job of challenging them enough but not just throwing middle-middle balls.”
Castro’s third homer opened the scoring in the second, but Alejandro Kirk tied it with a two-out RBI single in the third.
Chapman’s two homers put Toronto up 4-1. Schoop cut it to 4-2 when he connected off Tim Mayza in the seventh for his seventh home run.
Tigers: RHP Matt Manning (shoulder) is expected to rejoin the rotation after pitching 5 2/3 scoreless innings Wednesday for Triple-A Toledo. Manning allowed five hits, struck out six and walked two. He hasn’t pitched for Detroit since April 16.
Tigers: Detroit put unvaccinated LHP Andrew Chafin on the restricted list and selected RHP Bryan Garcia from Triple-A Toledo. Chafin will lose $142,857 from his $6.5 million salary.
Blue Jays: To make room for Kikuchi, Toronto optioned RHP Jeremy Beasley to Triple-A Buffalo.
Earlier Thursday, the Blue Jays announced plans for a $230 million renovation of Rogers Centre, their downtown home since 1989. The change will not involve replacing the artificial turf surface with grass, but will include new bar, restaurant and patio areas in the outfield, elevated bullpens, a reduction in foul territory, and expanded clubhouse and training facilities for players.
CATCH OF THE DAY
Blue Jays outfielder George Springer made a diving catch to retire Jeimer Candelario in the fourth, racing in and leaving his feet to snare a sinking liner.
New Toronto FC star Federico Bernadeschi attended the game wearing a Blue Jays jersey with his name and No. 10 on the back. Bernadeschi left Italy’s Juventus to sign with Toronto on July 15.
Bryan Garcia will make his first career start Friday against Blue Jays RHP Alek Manoah (11-4, 2.24 ERA). Garcia is 5-3 with a 6.12 ERA in 72 relief appearances over three seasons.
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