Blue Jays bats break five-game losing streak as bats come to life against the Rays

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Bo Bichette didn’t have to look at the standings to see the carnage inflicted on his team in recent weeks.

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Nor did the Blue Jays shortstop see any point in dwelling on these struggles – or looking for very deep solutions.

“We know what we’ve been through,” Bichette told the Toronto Sun ahead of Saturday’s 5-1 beat the Rays at Tropicana Field. “We know what we can do to try to improve, regardless of what has happened in these games lately.

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“But definitely the guys want to play better and we’re going to keep trying to do that.”

The opening act was to stop a five-game losing streak, something the Jays did Saturday night at the Trop with a big eighth inning from two players who spent most of April on the injured list.

The first of these morale-boosting monsters was a solo homer by Teoscar Hernandez – an imposing beauty that the outer defender stopped to admire. And later in the inning, a two-run burst from Danny Jansen in his first game back from an oblique tension that caused the Jays bench to explode.

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It was a different vibe, starting with a different lineup from manager Charlie Montoyo, who tried to accelerate the turnaround.

With George Springer out with a sprained left ankle, Matt Chapman took the lead with Vlad Guerrero Jr. hitting the second, Hernandez the third and Bichette hitting the clean.

“We’re pushing a little bit, so give them a different look and see if we can get them to work,” Montoyo said. “I felt that today was a good time.”

Yes, timing is everything and it was just what the Jays needed after a tough run where they won just two of the previous 10.

“Danny Jansen looked like he didn’t miss a beat,” said a beaming Montoyo afterwards. “It was nice to see home runs back. (Jansen) only had 11 hits down there (in a stint of rehab) and he looked stuck like he was last September.

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“Having a four-race lead that didn’t happen very often – that was also nice to see.”

Relief has been felt all around and can relieve some of the stress of the last few days.

The key to overcoming that, Bichette believes, was being the same guy at Tropicana Field on a Saturday night and at Yankee Stadium on a Wednesday afternoon.

“Just continue to be consistent,” Bichette said when asked how he handles the inevitable lull in season one. “We don’t have a choice. It’s 162 games, so I think if you go into a season expecting it to be an easy ride all the time, you probably won’t be able to handle anything.

“It’s hard for sure. But at the end of the day, if you believe in your work ethic, your preparation, and the people around you, you can overcome that.”

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It was just an entry into a game, but that eighth of four runs was a blast the Jays had been looking for for the past two weeks. Coupled with a solid effort from Hyun-Jin Ryu in his first match since returning from a month on the injury list and it was an uplifting victory against his AL East teammate.

“I will say that when you start a season playing with as many good teams as we are, it’s hard to get comfortable,” Bichette said. “We’ve fought really hard all season so far. We’ve been in very tight games all season and it’s hard to get your feet under you.

“To be honest, we should be very proud of how we played.”

And with a record that improved to 18-16, maybe another corner turned in the right direction.

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GAME ON

Ryu’s comeback didn’t start in style as he hit a home run to the right of Rays hitter Yandy Diaz. But the big southpaw settled well after that, giving the Jays 4.2 innings and allowing just four hits and that one run won…. “It was great to see Ryu do what he did today,” said Montoyo. “He was commanding his throws and he looked like the Ryu we knew.” … The Jays had a promising first inning scoring a run on a Santiago Espinal fly, but left a pair stranded.

YOU BET?

So you made a preseason bet on the Jays win total, where in most sports books the number is fixed at 92.5 and you bet the over?

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Well, if that’s the case, you’re probably feeling a little queasy. To get to 93 wins (to cash that ticket), the Jays would have to go 76-53 in their remaining 129 games.

Feasible? Of course it is, but remember that the record of 17-16 after 33 games is the same as it was in 2021, which ended in that thrilling 91-win season.

ON THE BASES

Montoyo said Springer won’t be on the injury list, but it certainly looks like the team won’t be taking him back to the team…

Some roster changes to accompany the roster change ahead of Saturday’s game – Jansen and his drum mate Ryu have been activated on the injury list. To make room, catcher Tyler Heineman and pitcher Trent Thornton were chosen for Buffalo… Alek Manoah is scheduled to catch the ball in Sunday’s series finale, a three-game set rubber match.

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