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Blue Jays’ Berrios continues head-scratching season in drubbing vs. Guardians

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TORONTO – That Yusei Kikuchi is an unstable element in the Toronto Blue Jays starting rotation shouldn’t be a total surprise. Sure, more was expected from the left-hander when he was signed for $36 million over three years out of the lockout, but it was a high-risk, high-upside play and the type of season he’s slogging through was very much on the spectrum of possibility.

The Blue Jays, barring a surprise, will need him to make a start next week against the Baltimore Orioles and then, with Ross Stripling likely set for a return after throwing five shutout innings for triple-A Buffalo during a rehab start Friday at Syracuse, they’ll have a decision to make.

Far more jarring for the Blue Jays is the head-scratching season of Jose Berrios, who for the second time in 2022 allowed eight earned runs, this time over four innings of a dispiriting 8-0 drubbing from the Cleveland Guardians on Friday night.

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The latest drubbing for the ace right-hander signed to a $131-million, seven-year extension over the winter came exactly one week after a rough outing at Minnesota, where he allowed five runs in 3.2 innings. In six July starts preceding that one, Berrios had seemingly turned the corner, pitching to a 3.00 ERA with 42 strikeouts in 36 innings.

But while the wide divergence between his home/road splits are often raised as a talking point, a more troubling split is that in 15 outings against teams better than .500, his ERA is 6.61 while in eight starts versus sub-.500 clubs it’s 3.77.

Now, worth noting is that mixed in there are strong performances against Houston, St. Louis, Minnesota, Tampa Bay and Philadelphia. Clearly, though, he isn’t getting away with as much against better lineups.

Take Friday, for example.

Berrios cruised through the first two innings before hitting No. 8 hitter Austin Hedges with one out in the third. Will Benson followed with a single and then Steven Kwan laid down a perfect bunt that just stayed fair down the third base line to load the bases.

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Amed Rosario then roped a curveball just under the zone up the middle for a two-run single and after a Jose Ramirez sacrifice fly to centre brought home a third run, Josh Naylor of Mississauga, Ont., sent this 94.3 m.p.h. fastball over the wall in left to make it 5-0.

Really, it wasn’t a bad pitch.


The next inning, a three-run shot by Ramirez that made it 8-0 was even more audacious, the star third baseman golfing this Berrios changeup over the wall in right-centre.


It’s obscene and while both homers count against his pitching line, it’s reason to believe that Berrios isn’t necessarily in crisis, even though he’s far from being at his best.

Regardless, the Blue Jays, at 60-51 in the rapidly clustering wild-card standings, are facing their first real period of challenge under interim manager John Schneider having lost five times in their past six outings, each against a team above .500.

They’re now 29-39 against teams with winning records, worse than Seattle, Tampa Bay, Baltimore and Minnesota, the four teams closest around them.

Complicating matters is that their offence, in the ongoing absence of George Springer, hasn’t been able to overcome some of the pitching staff’s recent blips.

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Cal Quantrill of Port Hope, Ont., primarily riding a sinker-cutter mix, matched a season-high with seven strikeouts and allowed just one hit, a one-out double to Vladimir Guerrero Jr., in the fourth that extended the all-star first baseman’s hit streak to 21 games.

Digging out of early five-run holes isn’t easy, but seizing a game early at the plate could help ease the burden on the staff at times, too.

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Padres GM Preller says they need to get to a point of trust with Tatis

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Just a week and a half ago, the Padres had to be feeling pretty good about themselves. They were in playoff position and had just had a huge trade deadline, landing multiple big-name players, including 23-year-old superstar Juan Soto. Friday, though, the team suffered a bit of a gut punch. Fellow young star Fernando Tatis, Jr. has been suspended for 80 games for violating the league’s drug policy, as he failed a PED test. 

Keep in mind that Tatis suffered a fractured wrist in a motorcycle accident during the offseason. When asked the date of his accident, Tatis replied with a question: “Which one?” 

Which motorcycle accident? In the same offseason? 

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And now on top of that, Tatis has been suspended into next May. He’ll miss all of the 2022 season, essentially due to poor decision-making. There’s a phrase I learned from a coach long ago that has stuck with me for years. “Control what you can control.” You can’t control the umpires, you can’t control the weather, you can’t control how the opposing team plays. You can control your decision-making, though, among other things. 

Tatis got in a motorcycle accident last offseason and apparently decided to keep riding the bike. His wrist was injured and he didn’t tell anyone about it until reporting to camp in March. These are bad decisions that kept Tatis out of the Padres’ lineup into August. And now, on top of that, we learned that more issues with his decision-making have resulted in him being out another 80 games. 

Padres general manager A.J. Preller had some words that were much more stern than we’re used to seeing from from office execs when addressing one of their stars. 

“I think we’re hoping that from the offseason to now, that there would be some maturity,” said Preller, via The Athletic. “And obviously with the news today, it’s more of a pattern and something we’ve got to dig a little bit more into. I’m sure he’s very disappointed, but at the end of the day, it’s one thing to say it. You have to start by showing it with your actions.” 

“I think what we need to get to is a point in time where we trust,” Preller said, via San Diego Union-Tribune. “Over the course of the last six or seven months, I think that’s been something that we haven’t really been able to have.” 

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Harsh? Probably, but it’s pretty spot on. 

Tatis is only 23 years old, but his father played in parts of 11 seasons in the majors. The concept of being a responsible big-league player shouldn’t be new. 

As one of the most talented players in baseball, Tatis should be responsible to his teammates. Remember, they were in playoff position last year and collapsed down the stretch. They have played well in his absence and were gearing up to add a major talent in pursuit of a deep playoff run and maybe the Padres’ first World Series title. Instead, they’ll have to do without him. 

He’s also on the second year of a 14-year, $340 million contract, which means he needs to be responsible to management and ownership. As Preller alluded to, Tatis hasn’t come through on this one so far. 

The best bet here is the PED suspension scared Tatis straight and he’ll grow a lot between now and when his suspension has been served, moving into the future with better decision-making. Then again, shouldn’t the first motorcycle accident have been the wake-up call? 

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Raquel Rodriguez & Aliyah face Xia Li & Shotzi in the Women's Tag Team Tournament | WWE on FOX

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Raquel Rodriguez and Aliyah went head-to-head with Xia Li and Shotzi in the Women’s Tag Team Tournament on Friday Night SmackDown.



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