Guerrero Jr., Bichette deliver as Blue Jays beat Royals; move 1.5 up on Rangers
TORONTO (AP) — Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit a tiebreaking double in the seventh inning, Bo Bichette had two hits and two RBIs in his return from injury and the Toronto Blue Jays held on to beat the Kansas City Royals 5-4 on Friday night.
Guerrero’s two-run double off right-hander Carlos Hernández (1-10) helped the Blue Jays (78-63) hold onto the final AL wild-card berth with their fourth win in five games.
Toronto matched a season best by moving 15 games above .500. The Blue Jays are 23-19 in one-run games. Kansas City, at 44-98, fell behind Oakland for the worst record in major leagues.
Bichette went 2 for 5 and scored once after being activated off the 10-day injured list before the game.
“When he has runners on base, he does anything to bring them in,” Guerrero said of his fellow All-Star through a translator. “It’s great to have him back.”
Bichette, the two-time AL hits leader, returned after missing nine games because of a strained right quadriceps.
“Just having him back in the lineup is definitely huge,” Blue Jays left-hander Yusei Kikuchi said through a translator. “It puts a lot of pressure on the other teams. He’s a big presence in our lineup and also a leader. It’s really good to have a leader like him back.”
Blue Jays manager John Schneider called Bichette “an instant shot of energy to our offense.”
“He hasn’t seen live pitching in 10 or 12 days and he’s taking tough pitches,” Schneider said. “It’s impressive what he can do in the box.”
Royals manager Matt Quatraro wasn’t as pleased to see Bichette back.
“I would have been a lot happier if he had a few more days off,” Quatraro joked.
Blue Jays rookie Davis Schneider reached base four times. He doubled in the second and fourth, and walked in the sixth and seventh.
Chad Green (2-0) got two outs for the win and left-hander Tim Mayza got one out in the eighth. Closer Jordan Romano recorded the final four outs for his 33rd save in 36 chances despite giving up an RBI single to Salvador Perez in the ninth. Edward Olivares flied out to end it, stranding runners at first and second.
Kansas City left-hander Austin Cox had to be helped off the field in the seventh after injuring his left knee while covering first base.
“He’s in some pain,” Quatraro said. “We’re going to get more diagnostic testing and see exactly what it is.”
Cox struck out pinch hitter Santiago Espinal to begin the inning, but went down while trying to get to the base on Alejandro Kirk’s infield single.
“It’s really tough,” Royals infielder Nick Loftin said. “Saying a lot of prayers for him.”
Hernández came on to replace Cox.
Tyler Heineman pinch ran for Kirk and advanced on a wild pitch before Kevin Kiermaier flied out. George Springer walked and Bichette tied it with a first-pitch single.
Guerrero followed with a two-run double. He has 16 RBIs in 24 career games against Kansas City.
Pinch-hitter Ernie Clement capped the four-run rally with a two-out RBI single off left-hander Tucker Davidson.
Bobby Witt Jr. cut it to 5-3 in the eighth when he doubled and scored on a fielder’s choice grounder by pinch-hitter Olivares.
Royals outfielder Dairon Blanco hit a two-out solo homer off Kikuchi in the third, his second.
It was the second homer off Kikuchi in 10 starts since the All-Star break. Kikuchi allowed one run and three hits in five innings. He walked one and struck out eight.
Toronto tied it against right-hander Alec Marsh in the sixth when Kiermaier led off with a triple and scored on Bichette’s one-out double.
Kansas City reclaimed the lead with a two-out rally against right-hander Trevor Richards in the seventh. Freddy Fermin singled and scored on Loftin’s first career triple. Richards left after walking Kyle Isbel and Green came on to strike out Blanco.
Right-hander Collin Snider opened for the Royals and allowed one hit in two scoreless innings.
Royals: Kansas City activated 1B Nick Pratto (left groin) off the IL and optioned INF Matt Beaty to Triple-A Omaha.
Blue Jays: John Schneider said C Danny Jansen will miss the rest of the regular season after having surgery Thursday on his fractured right middle finger. Jansen’s status for the playoffs will be evaluated if Toronto advances to the postseason. … 3B Matt Chapman resumed hitting and fielding drills Friday after having a splint removed from his sprained right middle finger.
To make room for Bichette, Toronto optioned INF Mason McCoy to Triple-A Buffalo.
Toronto has won eight of its past nine home meetings with Kansas City.
The Royals are a major league-worst 18-52 on the road.
RHP Kevin Gausman (10-8, 3.39 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Blue Jays on Saturday. Kansas City hasn’t announced a starter.
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