December 9, 2023

Blue Jays visit Rockies, look to gain more ground in wild-card chase

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Every game matters in a playoff chase, and the Toronto Blue Jays made theirs count Friday night.

Toronto took advantage of losses by the three other American League wild-card contenders by beating the Colorado Rockies 13-9 on Friday night. The Blue Jays will try to gain more ground in the second contest of a three-game set in Denver on Saturday night.

The Blue Jays will send Yusei Kikuchi (9-4, 3.63 ERA) against Colorado’s Ty Blach (1-1, 3.94) in a matchup of left-handers.

The Rockies (49-85) have lost four straight. Toronto (74-61) has won two in a row to move within 1 1/2 games of Texas for the last AL wild card spot.

For Toronto, the win on Friday night wasn’t pretty but all that matters is it was a victory. The Blue Jays had an eight-run lead in the ninth so it appeared to be a perfect time for Chad Green to make his first appearance in more than a year following Tommy John surgery.

It didn’t go great — he allowed four runs — but Toronto survived thanks to a big offensive night.

One of the big hits came off the bat of Danny Jansen, who crushed his 17th homer of the season, which was a nice change after he has been hit by pitches so often (10 times) this season. He takes it in stride, however.

“I know teams are going to want to attack me inside — they’ve kind of done that the last two years, tried to get in on me,” Jansen said recently.

The Blue Jays hope Kikuchi can pitch well enough to let them outscore Colorado. He has faced the Rockies just once in his career, on Aug. 7, 2020, when he was with Seattle. He took the loss after allowing four runs in 5 2/3 innings.

Blach, who has never faced Toronto, is one of the bright spots in what is becoming a historically bad season for the Rockies. Colorado is on pace to lose 100 games for the first time in its existence and conceded the season.

The Rockies dealt several veterans at the trade deadline to make room for younger players, and they are seeing plenty of action. Nolan Jones has taken advantage of the chance with some big games, including Friday night when he homered, tripled and finished with three hits.

He played 23 games with Cleveland last season and after starting this year in Triple-A Albuquerque, he has been a mainstay in the lineup since late May.

Jones is hitting .284 and has 14 home runs in 78 games.

“We’ve seen it for most of the year, which is exciting for the future for us,” Colorado manager Bud Black said of Jones. “The trick now for Nolan is finish strong, have a great September and feel good about his year. He put up good numbers in Triple-A and he’s come up here against major league pitching and has done very well. He has done more than survived, which is great for a young player.”

—Field Level Media

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