Toronto ends 3-game skid in Whit Merrifield's return to KC

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Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Yusei Kikuchi throws to the Kansas City Royals during the fifth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, April 4, 2023, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Yusei Kikuchi and four relievers limited the Kansas City Royals to one run on four hits, and the Toronto Blue Jays snapped a three-game losing streak with a 4-1 victory in Whit Merrifield's return to Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday night.

Matt Chapman was 3-for-4 with a double for Toronto, and Merrifield doubled and scored the go-ahead run in his first game back in the city where he spent most of seven seasons before he was traded last August.

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“Awesome job by (Kikuchi),” Toronto manager John Schneider said. “Efficient with his pitch count. (He was) around the zone. A few less strikeouts than we saw in the spring, but it was an outstanding job.”

Kikuchi (1-0) allowed one run on three hits and retired the side in order three times over his five innings.

“I think I threw well overall,” Kikuchi said through an interpreter. “I felt pretty good for it to be the first start of the season. We obviously had a plan, but we didn't want to over-think it. We wanted to find what was working today.”

He was also helped by his defense, with left fielder Daulton Varsho throwing out Matt Duffy at the plate in the second inning.

“We're focusing and priding ourselves on that (play),” Schneider said. “It was a great throw and a great tag by Jano (Danny Jansen). It kind of squashed a little bit of momentum. Those things add up.”

Jordan Romano pitched a perfect ninth for his second save.

Kris Bubic (0-1) worked around trouble most of the night, only retiring the Blue Jays in order in the fifth, his last inning. He allowed two runs on seven hits and one walk. He was relieved by Carlos Hernandez, who yielded a home run to Varsho on his first pitch.

The Royals never could get the momentum back after the second.

“I thought we took some pretty good swings (against Kikuchi)," Royals manager Matt Quatraro said. "He's tough. I think we laid off some of the tougher change-ups he threw. We put some swings on balls; we just missed a few. But overall he was efficient.”

Franmil Reyes got the Royals on the board in the second with his first hit in a Kansas City uniform, a 455-blast over the fountains in left center. Reyes had been 0-for-6 in his first two games with the Royals.

The Jays tied it in the top of the third. Bo Bichette, Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Chapman stroked consecutive singles, with Chapman driving in Bichette. Toronto added another run in the fourth. Merrifield led off with a double down the left-field line, went to third on a fly ball and scored on a wild pitch.


The Blue Jays will send RHP Alek Manoah (0-0, 13.50 ERA) to the mound to face Kansas City’s RHP Zach Greinke (0-1, 3.38 ERA) Wednesday night in the third game of a four-game series. Manoah got a no-decision on opening day when the Blue Jays defeated the Cardinals 10-9. Greinke allowed two runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings as the Royals lost to the Twins 2-0 on opening day.


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