Bichette reaches 5th HR in 4 games, Blue Jays beat Rangers 4-3
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Bo Bichette went deep again for the playoffs battling Toronto Blue Jays, who went on to beat Texas late by a small ball.
Bichette homered for the fifth time in the last four games, but the Blue Jays got the deciding run on the RBI single by Danny Jansen in the ninth inning for a 4-3 win in Texas on Friday-evening when Josh Jung, the top Rangers candidate, hitting a home run in his first career at bat.
Raimel Tapia walked in the ninth inning off of Jose Leclerc (0-2), then stole second base after Santiago Espinal was unable to clear a bunt. Tapia moved another base when Espinal flied out deep before Jansen singled into shallow left midfield.
“A great walk and stealing from second base and the long flyout to get him to third base made my job easier,” said Jansen. “I really simplified it at the time… just to get something into play.”
The Blue Jays maintained a 4 1/2 game lead over Baltimore. the first team among the American League’s three wildcard spots, with their 16th win in 22 games. They have won 13 of their last 15 road games, including three of four against the Orioles earlier this week.
“Things that are a bit underrated are the defense of Jackie and Tapia stealing a base there with two strikeouts to get into scoring position,” said Blue Jays interim manager John Schneider. “So little things like that really helped us tonight.”
Texas tied 3-3 on Corey Seager’s RBI double in the eighth inning, but he didn’t score as rightfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. made a running catch near the line of Jonah Heim’s cutting flyball.
Bichette’s 23rd homerun was a two-run shot in the third inning to give the Blue Jays a 3-0 lead. He also batted in a run with a fielder’s choice grounder in the first, a ball that fielded third baseman Jung before making a backhanded flip on the run for a force out at second base.
Tim Mayza (6-0), Toronto’s fourth pitcher, retired the side in the eighth before Jordan Romano worked the ninth for his 32nd save in 36 chances. With a runner on second base, righthander Romano Jung struckout and pinch-hitter Adolis Garcia got out on a game-ending flyout.
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The lone runner to allow righthander Ross Stripling through the Texas lineup the first two times was Jung’s homerun in the third.
“I don’t even think I was consciously running around the bases. Just give it a good swing,” Jung said. “Looking in my lane, and when a pitch appeared there, I was swinging. But I didn’t want to be too timid.”
Second baseman Marcus Semien had a double-out double in the sixth off Stripling to extend the longest active streak on base in the majors to 20 games. Seager followed with an RBI single to make a 0-for-25 slump for the All-Star shortstop.
Jung, Texas Tech’s eighth overall pick in the 2019 draft, is expected to finish as the primary third baseman for the Rangers this season. He may have deserved that opportunity in spring training, but had to have surgery in February to repair a torn labrum in his left (non-throwing) shoulder. He hit six home runs in 23 games last month at Triple-A Round Rock.
Bichette, who added a triple in the eighth before Brock Burke struckout consecutively, hit three homeruns in the second game of a doubleheader Monday in Baltimore and went deep again on Tuesday.
The only other Texas batter to homer in his first MLB at bat was Jurickson Profar in Cleveland in 2012. … Jung is the seventh player to make his big league-debut for the Rangers this season. He is the third player to do so on third base.
START OF STRIPLING
Stripling struckout four while giving up two runs in six innings in his 100th big league-start – and 200th game overall. He threw only 68 pitches.
THE SKY ABOVE
Globe Life Field’s retractable roof was open for the first time since a 3-1 win over Atlanta on April 30. The Rangers had played 54 home games in a row with the roof closed. It was 87 degrees on the first pitch.
Blue Jays: OR Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was placed on the 10-day injured list with a left hamstring injury. Gurriel was injured trying to beat a double-play grounder in their series finale in Baltimore.
Rangers: García was out of the starting lineup for the second game in a row. He is still sore after coming down clumsily when he jumped the wall on Jose Altuve’s homer in Houston on Tuesday night. ….INF/OF Brad Miller was placed on the 10-day injured list with a right hip strain, which put Jung on the list. Miller hadn’t played since August 31.
Righthander Kevin Gausman (11-9, 3.12 ERA) has gone 3-0 in the past four starts – and the Blue Jays have won every one of those games. RHP Kohei Arihara (1-2, 5.29) makes his fourth big league-start since Texas picked him up from Triple-A Round Rock on August 16.