Vladimir Guerrero Jr. led a revived offense with two home runs on Monday, and the host Toronto Blue Jays hope the trend continues Tuesday night against the Baltimore Orioles.
Guerrero was one of several Blue Jays hitters to have slowed in August. He had four RBIs on Monday with his 37th and 38th homers of the season in a 7-3 victory over the Orioles in the opener of a three-game series.
It was just the second time in 11 games that the Blue Jays scored more than three runs in a game.
Even with the big night, Guerrero has dropped off on offense this month in comparison with his sensational first four months of the season. The 22-year-old is batting .268/.349/.420 in August with five home runs and 12 RBIs.
Through the end of July, Guerrero was batting .327/.424/.654 with 33 homers and 83 RBIs.
Guerrero, however, is on an eight-game hit streak in which he is batting .375 (12-for-32) with six RBIs.
George Springer returned to the Toronto lineup Monday after missing more than two weeks with a sprained knee and was 1-for-2 with a walk and a hit by pitch. He served as the designated hitter and batted leadoff.
“We’ve been grinding a little bit,” Springer said. “We haven’t got the results we want offensively, but that’s the game.”
The Blue Jays moved within 4 1/2 games of the Boston Red Sox, who occupy the second American League wild-card spot and lost 6-1 to the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday.
“If we keep pitching that way, whenever our offense gets hot — and we expect it to happen — we’re going to have a good run,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “I can feel it.”
Toronto leads the season series with Baltimore 7-3 with nine games remaining.
The Blue Jays will start left-hander Hyun Jin Ryu (12-7, 3.88 ERA) on Tuesday. He is 3- with a 2.89 ERA, against the Orioles this season. In six career starts against Baltimore, he is 4-0, 2.95.
Ryu struggled in his most recent start, allowing seven runs in 3 2/3 innings Thursday against the Chicago White Sox.
Baltimore will start left-hander Keegan Akin (1-8, 7.26 ERA). He earned a win over the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday, allowing one run in seven innings.
He allowed six runs in 4 1/3 innings in taking the loss June 26 against Toronto. He is 0-1, 7.71, in three career starts against the Blue Jays.
Orioles center fielder Cedric Mullins was limited to a pinch-hitting appearance Monday, striking out in the ninth. Ryan McKenna, recalled from Triple-A Norfolk, started in center field. McKenna’s promotion will allow manager Brandon Hyde to rest his outfielders more frequently.
“It’s needed right now with our guys,” Hyde said. “To be able to have an extra bench player is important right now. (Anthony) Santander is … playing with the (ankle injury) lingering still, and Cedric’s played a ton this year and played in the middle of the field. He’s run all over the place. So to be able to give guys a break is important.”
With Springer’s return, Toronto optioned outfielder Josh Palacios to Triple-A Buffalo.
Baltimore also recalled right-hander Zack Burdi on Monday. Right-hander Spenser Watkins and left-hander Paul Fry were optioned to Norfolk.
–Field Level Media