Blue Jays break back into win column in the best way versus Marlins

Toronto Blue Jays v Miami Marlins
Toronto Blue Jays v Miami Marlins / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

Boy, oh boy, was Tuesday night's victory for the Toronto Blue Jays a big one. The club is now 4-6 in their last 10, and some of the ballgames have been tough watches lately. With Yusei Kikuchi on the mound, the Jays were able to jump back into the win column in shutout fashion.

Kikuchi, 32, has been frustratingly inconsistent for the Blue Jays throughout the first two years of his tenure on the club. After experiencing one heck of a decline all of last season, he has bounced back in 2023, but not without his fair share of faults. While he's still surrendering entirely too many home runs and way too much hard contact, the crafty southpaw went out there and absolutely dominated against the 42-32 Miami Marlins.

For Kikuchi, his night consisted of six shutout innings, holding the Marlins, who only trail the always-dangerous Braves in the NL East, to two hits while striking out six and not walking a single batter. What we saw in this game was Kikuchi at his finest, and this outing could not have come at a better time. Behind him, the defense was in sync and had little to no issues making nice catches and keeping the ball out of play.

For the Marlins, 20-year-old (yes, you read that right) Eury Pérez took the mound and was pound-for-pound just as solid as Kikuchi was. The right-hander held the Blue Jays offense scoreless through six innings of his own, while punching out nine batters. It was not until the Marlins bullpen took over that the Jays finally began to manufacture some runs.

What's best about last night's much-needed victory is that some unheralded heroes were the ones to step up for the Blue Jays and scrap together some runs. In the top of the eighth inning, John Schneider made the risky move to lift both Spencer Horwitz and Kevin Kiermaier for pinch hitters to play matchup, as the Marlins had just put in left-hander Tanner Scott.

Santiago Espinal, hitting for Horwitz, promptly doubled down the left field line which allowed the next batter, Ernie Clement, who was hitting for Kiermaier, to drive him in with a bloop single into the outfield. Just like that, it's 1-0 Jays. George Springer followed that with a run-scoring single of his own and the 2-0 lead is how the night wrapped up as the Blue Jays moved to 40-35 on the year.

While it's been a tough start to the year for the Blue Jays, it's important to remember that the season is long and that we haven't even hit the All-Star Break yet. There's still so much more baseball left to play and, for what it's worth, this club is still only 1.0 GB of an AL Wild Card spot. All a team needs to do is make it to the WC Series and they have their foot in the door for a World Series run!