Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Yusei Kikuchi throws during the first inning of a game against the Seattle Mariners in Toronto on May 16. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)

Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Yusei Kikuchi throws during the first inning of a game against the Seattle Mariners in Toronto on May 16. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)

Mariners fall to Blue Jays, former pitcher Kikuchi

Ex-Seattle left-hander Yusei Kikuchi pitches six shutout innings in the series opener.

  • By IAN HARRISON Associated Press
  • Monday, May 16, 2022 9:11pm
  • SportsMariners

By Ian Harrison / Associated Press

TORONTO — Yusei Kikuchi allowed one hit over six shutout innings to beat his former team, Bo Bichette and Matt Chapman backed the left-hander with home runs and the Toronto Blue Jays topped the Seattle Mariners 6-2 on Monday night.

Bichette went 3 for 5 with two RBI and scored twice as the Blue Jays returned home from a 2-7 trip.

Raimel Tapia hit an RBI single in the sixth and pinch-hitter Alejandro Kirk added a two-run single in the seventh as the Blue Jays scored more than five runs for the first time since May 7 at Cleveland. Toronto mustered seven runs over three games at Tampa Bay this past weekend.

“It was good to see our offense score that many runs today,” manager Charlie Montoyo said. “The timely hitting was big.”

The Mariners have not won back-to-back games since victories over Kansas City on April 24 and Tampa Bay on April 26. Seattle is 7-13 on the road.

Kikuchi (2-1) walked three and struck out six to win for the second time in three starts.

“The biggest thing was establishing the fastball and really commanding that pitch in the zone,” he said through a translator.

Kikuchi didn’t pitch past the fifth in any of his first four appearances with Toronto but has worked into the sixth in each of his last three outings. He’s 2-0 with a 1.56 ERA during that span, striking out 20 in 17.1 innings.

“He looks awesome,” Bichette said. “He’s one of the nastier lefties that I’ve faced. To see him being aggressive, going after hitters, I think that’s huge for him.”

Seattle didn’t get a hit until Jesse Winker grounded a double down the first-base line to begin the fifth. Luis Torrens drew a one-out walk, but Kikuchi struck out Steven Souza Jr. and got Dylan Moore to fly out.

Kikuchi went 15-24 with a 4.97 ERA in 70 starts for the Mariners over the previous three seasons before signing with Toronto in March.

“He did a really good job commanding the fastball and mixing it with the slider,” Seattle’s Eugenio Suárez said.

Suárez hit a solo home run for the Mariners, the 200th of his career, off Trevor Richards in the seventh. Richards left after walking Torrens and pinch-hitter Mike Ford, and pinch-hitter Adam Frazier loaded the bases with a single off Yimi Garcia. Toronto escaped when Garcia got Abraham Toro to fly out and retired Ty France on a grounder.

“That was really the only big pressure we had,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said.

Adam Cimber got two outs with two runners on for his fourth major league save and second this season.

Bichette homered in the first, his fourth, and Chapman added a two-out drive in the second, his sixth. Both came off right-hander Chris Flexen (1-6), who lost his fourth straight decision.

“Obviously, he made a couple of mistakes on the home run balls,” Servais said. “Other than that, I thought he threw the ball really well. We didn’t do anything offensively for him.”

Flexen allowed three runs and six hits in 5.1 innings. He walked two and struck out a season-high seven.

RAY ABSENT

Mariners LHP Robbie Ray, who won the 2021 AL Cy Young Award with Toronto, didn’t make the trip to Canada with his teammates after pitching six innings Sunday against the Mets. Servais said Ray will rejoin the team Thursday in Boston. To enter the country, the Canadian government requires a person to have received a second COVID-19 vaccine dose — or one dose of Johnson & Johnson — at least 14 days before entry.

ROSTER MOVES

Mariners: Placed reliever Drew Steckenrider on the restricted list and selected LHP Roenis Elías from Triple-A Tacoma.

Blue Jays: Reinstated INF Cavan Biggio from the COVID-19 injured list and optioned him to Triple-A Buffalo. … Pittsburgh claimed C Tyler Heineman on waivers. Toronto sent Heineman to Triple-A last week.

RAMIREZ TRADED

Seattle traded RHP Yohan Ramirez to Cleveland for cash. The 27-year-old Ramirez went 1-0 with a 7.56 ERA before he was designated for assignment May 13.

UP NEXT

Mariners RHP Logan Gilbert (4-1, 2.13 ERA) starts Tuesday against Blue Jays RHP José Berríos (2-2, 5.82). Gilbert has a 4.60 ERA in three May starts after allowing one earned run in four April outings. Berríos has permitted five earned runs or more in back-to-back starts, both losses.

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